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Alternative vs. Traditional

Spaztoid
Posts: 23
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2/11/2010 10:45:05 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
I was reading an E-mail from my younger brother who attends the same high school that I used to attend. In it, he complained about the school district moving towards a traditional style of education by imposing a new district wide student information system that would force other schools to fit into the state guidelines for a school.

Coming from a background in alternative education, I thought it was kind of an odd switch, especially as my old high school is nationally recognized as an exceptional school for it's alternative style. Now, the school district is usurping it to make it fit into the traditional mold of a high school. I am interested to see what other people think of this and on a more philosophical level, which is better, an alternative high school or a traditional one?
bkelley211
Posts: 74
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2/11/2010 11:25:53 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
Do you have examples of differences between alternative and traditional education? For example, how were you taught math and how will your brother be taught it? English?
Spaztoid
Posts: 23
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2/13/2010 4:30:19 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
Here are the major differences that I can think of:

Traditional
- Typical High school
- Grades 9-12
- School from 7:30 - 2:10
- 7 mandatory periods
- Government funded and regulated
- All courses are selected for students
- AP and IB programs are included at almost all traditional high schools
- Large student populations. Usually 5000+
- Courses are regulated at district level
- All course material is taught from standardized material
- All grades and student related information is online and given directly to parents.
- Mandatory attendance
- High adherence to NCLB Act

In a traditional high school, students are assimilated into the student body where they are assigned their classes, they are regulated by school officials, and are given very little individual attention or control of their education.

Advantages of Traditional High school:
- AP and IB programs are included
- Major sports are included
- Large amounts of government funding
- Online access to grades, attendance, behavior, and class homework for parents

Disadvantages:
- Little student involvement
- No diversity in education
- Very limited student freedoms
- Greater gang related violence
- Little to no student voice in policy making

Alternative High schools:
- Grades from 6-12 (depending on the school) [My school was grades 7-12]
- School times vary from school to school. [My school was 8:30 - 2:05]
- Schools differ from standard period system. This may mean less periods, or a different school schedule altogether. [My school had 6 mandatory school periods]
- Limited Government funding and regulation
- Depending on school, student may select their classes. [My school allowed me to select my courses]
- AP and IB may or may not be included. [My school did not have AP or IB programs]
- Extra academic programs may be involved. [My school had two, two week intensives. This is where all students took only one class of their choice for two weeks. Classes are not typical core selections]
- Usually small student populations. 1000 or less. [My school had a cap of 300 students]
- Courses are created by teachers.
- Course material is created and implemented by individual teachers
- Limited information flow to parents
- All grades and student information is accessed by students
- Depending on school, no mandatory attendance. [My school did require me to attend classes]
- Less adherence to NCLB Act
- Many Alternative schools become or are already magnet schools. [My school is not a magnet school]
- IS/Peer Taught Classes. [My school had IS, SDL, Peer Taught, Community Taught, and Passages classes]

Alternative High schools offer programs and education out side of the norm, which allows students to create their own education.

Advantages:
- High student involvement in education
- High student involvement in policy making
- Lots of community service/extra-curricular educational opportunities
- Higher test scores/higher academics
- More educational diversity/specialized education

Disadvantages:
- Less parental involvement
- Easier to abuse
- Less funding
- Limited sports
- No AP/IB programs (depending on the school)

In terms of the question, classes can be very different. At a traditional school, you might be taught "9th grade English". At an alternative school, instead of "9th grade English," you have "Introduction to Shakespeare" or "Sci-Fi Lit." The major differences in terms of classes is that they are not the "Cookie Cutter" class. The teach the same principals, but usually in a different way.

This is just the few things I can think of right away. There are more advantages and disadvantages to both that I am missing, but these are some of the basics.
bkelley211
Posts: 74
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2/13/2010 5:37:50 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
Alternative sounds like a great option for a motivated student. Perhaps if students had options available to choose their own classes, they would be more motivated. The limited availabilty of sports would have a been a big disadvantage for me. I believe in the power of sports to bring people together, to help student/athletes budget time, and the obvious physical benefits.
PervRat
Posts: 963
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2/14/2010 5:39:20 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
Which costs more?

When funding is being slashed, as is happening just about everywhere, the pricier model is likely to go.
Spaztoid
Posts: 23
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2/15/2010 1:33:05 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
With most alternative schools, they put out a student profile to attract students that are self-motivated or who fit the school's image to join.

As for price, traditional schools cost more because they support larger populations of students and house more equipment, but I don't know how much the two models cost per student.

Alternative schools, as a side note, are still public schools. They still are apart of the the main school district, however they usually differ from traditional schools in a significant way which varies from school to school.

Right now, the issue is that the school district is beginning to limit and eliminate programs that make alternative schools possible because they are switching over to a new SIS. As a result, it is easier or them to enter information into the new database and track it if its all uniform. My major issue with that the school district is eliminating one of it's most successful schools because it's easier for them.