Reinventing Alternative Education
Jobs for the Future
Most states are moving too slowly toward implementation of new dropout legislation and the creation of alternative education options for those who struggle in traditional classroom settings, Jobs for the Future (JFF) says in these two reports.
Some states stand out in their efforts to develop new policies and programs: Mississippi, North Carolina and Texas, for example, have implemented all six of the JFF “policy elements” to diminish dropout rates. However, the study states, most states’ policies “focus on dropout prevention rather than recovery,” and very few states actively encourage “high-performing” teachers to help with the strengthening of new schools and alternative education programs. Although many states have evaluated the extent of the dropout problem in their area, addressing the issue has proved to be more difficult, due to a lack of funding.
The six policy elements for reducing the number of dropouts include extending the right to a free public education beyond age 18, using data to identify students who are “off track” and steering services to them, and providing accelerated education options, such as courses for college credit, to students who are struggling, as well as those who are advanced.
The authors also recommend seven policies that would aid in the creation of successful alternative programs, from securing increased funding to broadening the eligibility guidelines for participants. The most important step states can take, the authors suggest, is to “rewrite policy to help ‘normalize’ alternative education, establishing it as a viable, proficiency-based pathway.”
Free, 36 pages. www.jff.org/publications.