All Standards, All Students: Alternative Education
Alternative education usually means high school dropout prevention programs. Not a lot of data exists about how successful these schools are at helping students who are on the verge of dropping out or those who are coming back to school.What the research does show, however is that because the students are at risk of giving up on their education, strong engagement strategies are critical to success for these students. Most of these students also benefit from many of the other strategies used to support diverse student populations, since most of the students are poor students of color and/or ELL students. Five strategies for alternative education were highlighted in case study 6:
- structured after-school opportunities.
- family outreach.
- life skills training.
- safe learning environment.
- individualized academic support.
One of the important ways to keep students engaged is to give them exposure to real-life experiences where people use science in real life. In this vignette, focused on a chemistry class, the students visited a STEM Career Workshop. While there, three students attended a Forensic Science workshop in which they made observations in an office converted to a crime scene. The teacher used the white powder on a shoe as a jumping off point for chemistry lessons the following day. Understanding that forensics uses chemistry is an important life skills connection for the students. Back in the lab class, the students helped each other work through an investigation, also important for promoting engagement. Some of the students stayed after school to do even more on the lab. Their teacher often made herself available after school to help her students, since structured after-school activities are considered effective ways to keep students engaged. They also provide opportunities for individualized academic support. While they worked, the teacher made sure the students were handling their materials properly, one aspect of creating a safe learning environment.
While family connections are considered important to student success, this strategy was not addressed in the vignette.
For more details about the relationship of the specific strategies to the NGSS standards, view the entire case study.
Back to All Standards, All Students