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What Alternative Ed Means To Students

Does It Really Help Students Graduate?

By Mary Alsop, alternative high school teacher, Salt Lake City, Utah

As a teacher in alternative education, I work hard with my students daily, but I wonder: If we cannot save them, why are we here? What is our charge?

Here are some things we've faced at my school recently:

  • Students in the yearbook class are embarrassed to put the word "alternative" on the cover.

  • Students painfully ask what "alternative" means and find the label heavy with meaning.

  • Teachers worry about what lies ahead after many years dedicated to developing a program now being questioned.

  • The only alternative high school in the area to make Annual Yearly Progress, we are now being asked to provide data that what we do works, that our students learn what we teach, and that we are highly qualified to do what we have always done.

Morale is low.

About the Author
Mary Alsop teaches English at Granite High Alternative in Salt Lake City, Utah. Over the past ten years, she also has taught at Albion Middle School, Eisenhower Junior High, and Central High School. Alsop earned an advanced teaching credential, National Board Certification, in the specialty area of Early Adolescence/English Language Arts.