Is alternative education meeting the academic, social, and emotional needs of at-risk students?

Alternative education schools are meant to meet specific needs of students who are not successful in a traditional comprehensive school environment. The purpose of this study was to determine if alternative education is meeting the emotional, social, and academic needs of at-risk students. Also, this study determined what improvements, if any, need to be made in alternative education to promote student success. The participants in this study were five students from a comprehensive alternative high school who graduated during the 2015-2016 school year. The participants attended at least two or more alternative models within a comprehensive alternative school including court appointed, charter, community day, and independent study. The interviews focused on three overarching research questions. Participants were asked nine interview questions highlighting their experiences at a comprehensive alternative school. The participants noted effectiveness of small class sizes, flexible scheduling, organization of planning for each student's future endeavors, and the strong support of teachers and counselors. The participants suggested strengthening the rigor of the curriculum, larger supplies of textbooks, and more traditional direct instruction courses in advanced subject areas.