Alternative high schools for at-risk students
- Alternative high school programs aim to increase the likelihood that students at risk of academic failure receive either a high school diploma or a General Educational Development (GED) diploma.
- Programs take many forms and may be delivered in schools or alternative community facilities affiliated with an accredited school.
- Programs may have a single focus, such as mentoring, or they may include multiple services such as regular academic instruction, counseling, behavioral services, social skills and support, and career education.
- Many school districts provide services in collaboration with the justice system, community mental health agencies, child protective services, substance use clinics, and crisis intervention centers.
- Referrals to alternative schools are often based on recommendations from school staff; committees of teachers, administrators, and counselors; district-level administrators; or parent requests.
Strength of evidence
Evidence level: Proven (highest tier)
Proven (highest tier)
Ranked as having the highest level of evidence by County Health Rankings and Roadmaps
High school-aged children
$1,700 to $12,900 per student
Outcomes and impact
- Strong evidence of improved high school graduation rates
- On average, improved graduation rates among high-risk students by 15.5 percent
Keys to successful implementation
- Note: This content is under review
- Unified databases that track student progress in alternative schools are essential as student attendance and participation are often intermittent.
- Specialized training and professional development can improve teacher effectiveness in alternative high schools.
- Student capacity is often constrained by lack of staffing or physical space.