Returning student characteristics, reasons for reentry, and effective program practices in a selected Texas alternative education program
MetadataShow full item record
The purpose of this research was to ascertain the characteristics of dropouts, their rationale for reentry, and what constituted effective practices within a Texas alternative education program (AEP). While, a number of studies have been conducted to explain why students drop out of school, more research was needed in the area of students that reenter to complete their studies (Fernandez, Paulsen & Hiranko-Nakanishi, 1996; Krashen, 1998; NCES, 1981; Pirog & Magee, 1997; Ramsey, 1988; Rumberger, 1995; Warren, 1996; White & Kaufman, 1997). The study utilized qualitative methodology with a case-study approach by utilizing small groups within the context of an organization (Miles and Huberman, 1994). The study site was purposely selected (Kuzel, 1992; Morse, 1989) using low-socio-economic criteria, ethnic representation, an AEIS rating of Commended, and a high graduation rate. Site participant selection included comprehensive sampling (Goetz and LeCompte, 1984) of the AEP personnel and random sampling of the student participants and their respective parents. The primary data was collected using a modified three-interview method (Dolbeare and Schuman, 1982) with corroborating document review and focus groups. Findings indicated that research participants could identify seventeen different characteristics for returning high school students. Some of the characteristics describing these students also reflect their motivation or rationale for returning back to complete their high school studies. The study revealed four major practices within the AEP that supported the program and its students towards their mission of graduating. These were: hiring the right personnel, monitoring academic progress, providing student support services, and maintaining a safe school climate. A resultant theme indicated that there was a need to promote a positive image of the value of the AEP. Since only ten participants and five students were included in the study, the findings can only be tentatively generalized. Finally, suggestions are made for AEP programs to be designed to entice students not only to return back to school, but to remain until their goal to graduate is realized.