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Alternative High Schools: Options for At-Risk Teens

Teens at Risk of Dropping Out of High School Can Attend an Alternative School


High school students sitting in classroom
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Teens at risk for dropping out of high school due to academic or behavioral problems have the option of earning a valid diploma by transferring to an alternative high school set up to specifically support troubled teens who are struggling to succeed in school.

Understanding Alternative High Schools

Initially, these schools were developed to serve the needs of teens with behavioral problems. At that time, alternative meant, "get'em out of our school," due to defiant and disruptive behaviors the public schools were ill equipped to handle.

Alternative high schools have evolved, there are more of them and what they have to offer has broadened. Troubled teens struggle in traditional school environments for many reasons, and there are now numerous academic programs designed to address these varied needs.

The Options

An alternative high school offers unique learning opportunities in a more individualized environment for teenagers who aren't succeeding in traditional high school. Most communities offer the following:

Alternative Education Programs are offered within the teen's home school district. These alternative programs use the same curriculum followed in the public school system- what is different is the way it's taught. Programs include independent study, continuation programs, on-line and teen parent schools.

Charter schools are defined differently across the country as each state sets it's own standards. Charter schools operate independently from the public school system, are usually more innovative, and are publicly funded based on enrollment.

Virtual or online schools utilize internet technology, including online textbooks. Educational programs range from being completely independent and self-paced, to teacher taught programs that follow traditional semester scheduling. Most public school districts offer this option, and for a fee, community colleges, universities, and private schools do too.

Magnet schools which were originally opened in many communities to de-segregate schools, now offer specialized classes to include advanced science, engineering, performing arts, vocational or agricultural education.

Today's alternative high schools provide unique learning opportunities for a broad range of teenage students who aren't having success in the traditional public school system.

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