High school is tough for a lot of kids. The trudge through disconnected courses that seem irrelevant. The social scene is debilitating. Life challenges may include food và shelter insecurity. This combination of challenges, boredom, frustration, and social humiliation is more than they can take. Some ultimately drop out or look for an alternative.

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Trying lớn push all kids through a content-centric, compliance-oriented Mã Sản Phẩm just won’t work. A variety of alternative sầu approaches have been attempted. Following are a few approaches educators have sầu to lớn develop for youth that haven’t been successful in traditional schools.

Ten years ago, many of us were hopeful about blended alternative high school programs—but (like credit recovery programs before them) many of those half-day, sit in a computer lab and clichồng through online nội dung learning experiences turned out to lớn be boring và not very effective. There are still a handful of regional chains operating these kinds of programs, but many are under attaông xã given weak performance (even considering growth).

The best of blends are typically not more than một nửa online, feature small group, teacher-led instruction, real world connections, and strong youth and family supports.

Engaging Alternatives

Bronx Aremãng cầu High School serves over-aged, under-credited youth who have sầu dropped out or are not on track khổng lồ graduate; these are typical characteristics of a transfer school in NYC. The small, relationship-based school (with no more than 200 students) partners with nonprofit SCO for youth và family services. Each student is paired with an advocate counselor, who provides guidance và support for individual goal setting in the personalized, self-paced environment.

Boston Day và Evening Academy is a student-centered, competency-based school where students progress based on demonstrated mastery rather than seat time. Enrollment begins with an intensive orientation including post-secondary planning. Groups of about 18 students spover time every day with an advisor. Students benefit from wraparound services và a school open 12 hours a day. Teachers use a variety of digital tools that help create a personalized approach. The school year includes breaks for community-connected projects (see feature).

Health Leadership High School in Albuquerque is a small project-based high school for students not well served by traditional schools. The hands-on, community connected, project-based school prepares young people to lớn become community health advocates & leaders in the healthcare industry.

Each summer the staff solicits project ideas from community health providers. Most students work on three per day. Every project must have sầu deliverables valuable to lớn the community. Students meet with their advisor for an hour each day, where they kiểm tra in on projects & build social và emotional skills using asset-based resources. Students also participate in a paid internship (see feature).

ACE Leadership High School, an affiliate of Health Leadership in Albuquerque, serves about 400 students who have sầu already or were on their way lớn dropping out of high school. The project-based approach provides authentic & meaningful learning experiences for young people who love sầu to lớn kiến thiết & build things & want lớn become leaders in the construction profession (see feature).

Liberty Academy, north of Kansas City, organizes learning in six-week bursts of interest-based learning often connected to one of 100 community partners. Students phối goals in about four success skills during each burst. Teachers in this competency-based school help students lớn document their growth weekly.

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Integrated Supports

RISE High, a program of DaVinci Schools, serves the chất lượng needs of Los Angeles youth navigating foster care, housing instability, probation, or other circumstances that have disrupted their academic journeys. The integrated flex-schedule, credit recovery mã sản phẩm gives youth the voice và choice necessary lớn pursue their academic goals while honoring the responsibilities they have sầu in their lives. Opened in năm 2016, RISE won an XQ grant.

RISE High works with a network of youth-development agencies, municipalities and tư vấn centers to provide counseling, case management, tutoring, job readiness training, career pathways, internships, extracurricular opportunities, leadership development, và more. RISE sites are co-located with service providers across the đô thị.

Eagle Rock (
EagleRockSchool) in Estes Park, Coloravì chưng (above), an initiative sầu of American Honda, is both a tuition-không tính phí private residential high school và a professional development center for educators (và a very cool place khổng lồ visit). There are five expectations that guide course & project design: developing an expanding knowledge base, communicating effectively, creating & making healthy life choices, participating as an engaged global citizen, và providing leadership for justice.

High Dose Tutoring

Brooklyn LAB personalizes learning with a next-ren platsize và two hours of small group tutoring daily (see feature). The middle và high school serves students in the heart of the Brooklyn Tech Triangle. While not considered an alternative sầu school, about 40% of LAB learners have complex needs. Opened in 2017, the high school won an XQ grant.

Fusion Academy, founded in Solano Beach, California, is a network of 52 one-on-one private schools educating middle và high school students with particular attention khổng lồ social-emotional learning.

Alternative sầu Networks

The Upstream Collaborative is a project led by Big Picture Learning và supported by the Stuart Foundation to lớn redesign alternative education schools in California. This community of practice includes schools across the state classified as ‘alternative’ & supports strategies that offer students equitable access to lớn deep & sustained learning.

Another Big Picture partnership in a high-challenge community is Vaux High School. Big Picture works with the School District of Philadelphia, the local housing authority, the teacher’s union, Community College of Philadelphia, & youth & family services. Ninth graders take a Real World Learning class to lớn gain work-ready competencies và they start internships in tenth grade. Students present public products at exhibitions at the over of each semester.

The Internationals Network for Public Schools serves immigrant youth who are new lớn learning the English language. The 29-school network integrates language development và academic content while building student và family capađô thị for integration inlớn American society (featured on CompetencyWorks và EdSource).


I am an advocate for better learning for everyone.

As CEO of Getting Smart, I advise schools, districts, networks, foundations và learning organizations on the path forward. I"ve written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers includingGetting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, và The nguồn of Place. I served asa public school superintendent và thefirstExecutive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. I serve on the boards of nonprofits including EducationBoard Partners, 4.0 Schools, Digital Learning Institute, eduInnovationand advise One Stone, Teton Science Schools, Whittle School & Studtiện ích ios, & Mastery Transcript Consortium.

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