Alternative Education: Two Examples In Rural New Hampshire

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Masters of Education

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This descriptive research paper investigates general characteristics of at-risk populations, the extent and effect of the U.S. dropout epidemic, and how alternative learning environments can effectively address individual, family, peer, school, and community needs of students at-risk of academic failure. Ten to twenty percent of adolescents in this nation are considered at-risk of not graduating high school or obtaining the necessary skills to become productive citizens. Large, traditional school environments may have contributed to this failure because of the challenges they face in differentiating instruction for each student and the pressure to achieve state and federal performance standards. Alternative learning environments have become an increasingly popular option for students who struggle to find success in traditional settings. However, these environments have their own challenges. Findings in this study are supported by interviews with students and faculty from two alternative learning environments in rural New Hampshire. It compares how a private alternative boarding school, Oliverian School, and a public charter school, Ledyard Charter School, address the needs of targeted populations. These schools have small student-teacher ratios, dedicated staff, focused school mission, flexible curriculum. By connecting education to real-world scenarios they promote confidence building and academic achievement.