Case Study of an Alternative Education Program for At-risk Students
Jackson, Shelia P. IV
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This was a case study analysis of the Opportunity School, an alternative public education program in Danville,Virginia that serves students who are considered academically at-risk, grades six through twelve. A case study analysis of the Opportunity School was implemented to provide specific information regarding the overall effectiveness of the program. In addition, the analysis attempted to: reflect on the worthiness of the program since its inception in 1993; assess the program's strengths and weakness; ascertain students' level of satifaction; address areas that needed further expansion and suggest recommendations, based on indicators of effectiveness cited in the literature. The case study analysis, which was qualitative and quantitative was the methodology implemented in this research. The case records included, focus group sessions, interviews, student questionnaire, typology--using Kellmayer's indicators, and analysis of students' records. The sample population for this study was students who participated in the Opportunity School's program in 1996-97. Sixteen students participated in three focus groups and 41 students responded to a questionnaire designed to determine their satisfaction with the Opportunity School. In addition, school records of 153 students who participated in the program for a least one year between 1993-1997 were analyzed using: paired t-Tests, correlation coefficients, standard deviations, means and cross tabulations. Analysis of student data revealed the Opportunity School's program may have contributed to the positive change in students' academics performance and disciplinary behavior. Other factors that may have contributed to this change are maturation of students and repetitiveness of the Literacy Passport tests, which was used as a barometer to gauge academic performance. Collectively the Opportunity School's program has provided at-risk students with a second chance to continue their education. However, to more effectively serve students, there are areas that should be strengthen and expanded. Some of these areas included: use and integration of technology in the classroom, more variety in curriculum courses, adding a vocational education component, flexibility around the time of day students attend school and a comprehensive counseling program. The Opportunity School in Danville, Virginia should continue serving students who are considered at-risk of dropping out of school. Students in the school perceived the program as meeting their needs, and were very satisfied with the program and the school's staff. However, if alternative program for at-risk students are to have have real benefits, merely labeling them alternative will obviously not do. A program design must incorporate quantitative attributes. To further assess the effectiveness of alternative education programs for at-risk populations more longitudinal studies are needed.
- Doctoral Dissertations