Alternative Education in New Jersey High Schools: An Analysis of Policy and Practice
There is no denying it: America has a dropout crisis. According to research, 30 percent of young adults in the United States fail to graduate high school. To combat the dropout crisis, one solution that has been explored is alternative education, which targets students who are high risk for dropping out. In New Jersey, a state with little alternative education regulations, there is enormous variation in these programs and no state-level information available. It is unknown how many programs exist in New Jersey, if any, and what types of students are served. Without this information, it is then difficult to say what type of program works best, or even if these programs work at all. This project studies alternative education programs in New Jersey, Oregon, and Indiana to answer several research questions. First, what types of programs exist in New Jersey high schools and what type of students are served? Second, what state policies exist, if any, pertaining to alternative education? Third, what are other states practices and policies with regard to alternative education? The first two questions create a more complete picture of the state of alternative education in New Jersey high schools. The third question allows for a comparative analysis to better understand what students are best served by alternative programs. A survey on alternative education practices was administered to a total of 22 schools within New Jersey. Legislative research was completed to understand New Jersey policies pertaining to alternative education. Finally, research was gathered from multiple sources on policies and practices within Indiana and Oregon to allow for a comparative analysis. This project covers results as well as policy and research recommendations.