IALA E-News March 2009

 Alternative Education: Standards, Descriptions, Action

Several helpful documents are available for describing, implementing and evaluating alternative education programs. The first three refer to alternative education broadly, that is, providing a choice of programs for all students. The last one is more attuned to at-risk students.

Ray Morley and the Iowa Association of Alternative Education prepared a thoughtful document, Alternative Learning Environments: a Checklist of Quality Indicators. This offers a program the opportunity to examine its practices for their alignment with some of the best thinking about alternative education.

The Seattle Public Schools under the leadership of Elaine Packard adopted a well-worded document, Quality Indicators for Alternative Schools in the Seattle School District.

Member John Loflin wrote a valuable document which is part of our resource bank of materials. His Pseudo-Alternative School Checklist identifies numerous aspects of alternative education which are not truly “alternative” practices. It is a thoughtful and provocative document.

A Tennessee official has written what they describe as the first national standards for alternative education which have been adopted by the National Alternative Education Association. The standards cover 10 areas: Mission, Leadership, Climate, Staffing, Curriculum, Assessment, Planning, Parents, Collaboration, Program Evaluation.

Alternative High School Initiative (AHSI) is a network of youth development organizations with over 258 sites nationwide for creating educational opportunities for young people for whom traditional school settings have not been successful. AHSI was launched in 2003 with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Here are useful resources with links to other sites:
Brief descriptions in Summary of Educational Models include: Accelerated Schools, America’s Choice, Big Picture, Communities in Schools, EdVisions, Job Corps, Youth Build and 17 more.

The Financing Alternative Education: Profiles and Policy  by The National Youth Employment Coalition with the support of major foundations and the U.S Dept. of Labor recognizes that some of the most promising and innovative practices are taking place in our nation’s community-based and alternative education schools and programs serving youth between the ages of 16 and 24 and describes innovative practices and funding mechanisms. 


 National and State Alternative Education ConferencesMark your calendar for any of the following conferences about alternatives of interest to you or colleagues.

The 20th annual National Service learning Conference will be held March 18-21, 2009 in Nashville, Tennessee.
The Virginia Alternative Educators Association conference will be March 22-24, 2009 in Chartlotesville.
The 31st annual Connecticut State Alternative Education conference will be March 25, 2009 in New Britain, CT.
The Iowa Association of Alternative Education will hold its spring conference March 26-27, 2009 in Des Moines.
The National Coalition of Alternative Community Schools will hold its annual conference April 23-26, 2009 in Glenmoore, PA.
The Magnet Schools of America will hold its 27th annual conference April 26-29, 2009 in Charlotte, NC.
The Michigan Alternative Education Organization will hold its annual conference April 29-May 1, 2009Â at the Crystal Mountain Resort in Thompsonville, MI.
The 9th annual national Charter Schools conference will be June 21-24, 2009 in Washington, DC.
The North American Democratic Education Conference will be June 23-35, 2009 at Russell Sage College in Troy, NY.
The AERO 6th annual conference will be June 25-28, 2009 in Albany, NY.
The National Center on School Choice will hold its 2nd conference October 25-27, 2009 at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN.


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