The Alternative Learning Center model:
Today’s 21st Century Learners often require alternatives to the traditional school setting; these variations include multiple learning modalities and schedules as well as independent, online and accelerated learning opportunities. In addition, there is a significant need to serve at-risk students who are often not successful in the traditional education setting.
These students are susceptible to being suspended or expelled; in addition, they often struggle with attendance and / or social emotional issues. Economic concerns, scheduling conflicts, transportation difficulties and childcare needs are among the daunting issues that interfere with students participating in a traditional school system and schedule.
Left unaddressed, these students become part of our at-risk population and increase the district’s dropout rate. In addition to providing an alternative educational setting, the Alternative Learning Center Model seeks to provide families with community agency support as well as family outreach and education opportunities. Finally, the model also addresses college and career readiness by offering dual enrollment with the community college as well as by incorporating internship and employment opportunities in the local community.
Who Could Benefit?
· Non-medically fragile Home Hospital Students
· Special Education Students
· Students with Attendance Concerns (SARB)
· Administrative Transfer Students
· Students At-Risk of Being Expelled
· Expelled / Suspended Expulsion Students
· On-Line Learners
Students enrolled in the ALC receive their educational services utilizing an on-line, digital platform; they attend an instructional block in the ALC classroom for two hours each day to work on their courses. Students are required to complete three additional hours of course work each day, outside of their instructional block, in order to be able to complete one course every three weeks. In addition, each student attends individual and / or group counseling each week.
Alternative to Suspension (ATS) Model:
Research states that students who are home suspended have significant academic and social / emotional setbacks which are often insurmountable. In addition, nationwide statistics show that at home suspensions disproportionately affect students of color, socio-economically disadvantaged and special education students.
Not only do home suspensions discriminate, but they also do little to nothing to positively affect a student’s propensity not to reoffend. From the time a student is kicked out of class, he blames the person who “got him in trouble.” The home suspension is designed as a punitive consequence for wrongdoing in an isolated setting but there is no opportunity for the person who caused harm to examine his behavior and make amends for it. In addition, the loss of instructional time has the potential to negatively impact the student’s academic achievement for the remainder of the course or even the school year!
In January 2013 the California Legislature passed AB 1729 which prohibited administrators from suspending students for first time education code 48900 f-r infractions. Instead, administrators were charged with providing interventions including a decision making course, before home suspending students. In response, districts throughout the state directed administrators not to suspend students. Ironically, however, in most cases, districts gave little to no advice on what administrators should do instead.
The Alternative to Suspension (ATS) Program strives to accomplish two primary goals: to support students in completing work from their regularly assigned classes and to guide the students through a specific Restorative Practice Curriculum designed to assist students in owning and recognizing behavior, making amends with those harmed, creating and implementing replacement strategies for behavior and to successfully reintegrate into their schools and classrooms. The five day Restorative Practice Curriculum focuses on a specific goal each day:
· Day One – Self Reflection and Accountability
· Day Two – Strategies for Academic and Social / Emotional Success
· Day Three – Goal Setting
· Day Four – Recognition of Those Harmed
· Day Five – Reintegration Plan
Restorative Practice Curriculum includes: daily student surveys, essays, power point projects, apology letters, commitment cards and more…
Restorative Workshop Model:
As schools and districts successfully facilitate a cultural shift away from the traditional punishment and consequences to behavioral accountability and support, there is a definite need to shift away from utilizing the traditional lunch and after school detention to the Restorative Workshop (RW) Model. Restorative Workshop utilizes a circle format to assist students in clearly understanding their behavior and why it was wrong; moreover, the RW coaches students to creating replacement strategies – often with the assistance of other group members – that they can utilize in similar situations in the future. Tailored to the particular needs of each student, a key component of the RW is the individual follow up students receive from site level staff after they have participated in the RW.