In the spring of 2008, a task force was established to study the educational program at Alternatives for Individuals (AI) High School. Although AI High School provided students with a nurturing, supportive and caring environment, district officials saw a trend of low student achievement and graduation rate; and, a majority of students focused on the state’s 19 credit diploma versus the district’s 30 credit diploma.
The task force investigated whether the AI program, as designed, met the needs of students as they prepare for college, career and citizenship. The task force worked through a structured process to arrive at their recommendations:
- Where are we now;
- What can we learn from research about the problem;
- What can we learn from model programs; and
- What makes sense for this school and the district?
The task force studied effective alternative learning programs for more than a year and made recommendations for changes to the AI High School program. The recommendations included establishing a strong academic focus for the program, putting a strong visionary leader in charge of the school, and determining appropriate district supports.
As a result of those recommendations, coupled with a budget shortfall for the 2009-10 school year, the current AI High School program will close June 19.
“Over the next school year (2009-10), we will develop an effective, research-based alternative learning program, where students will complete a full (30 credits) high school diploma,” explained Clover Park School District (CPSD) Superintendent Debbie LeBeau. “In addition, we plan to offer students a wide variety of options to keep them engaged in learning, including earning college credits and developing career/job- related skills.
School district and Clover Park Technical College representatives are developing a partnership that will allow students, beginning in the 2010-11 school year, to:
- earn a high school diploma and potentially an AA degree, or a high school diploma and college credit;
- have access to high tech equipment at the technical college; and
- choose from a number of educational experiences and fields of study.
“Our community has clearly said it supports the district’s collaboration with partners for the support of students,“ said LeBeau. “Clover Park Technical College is a great community asset and we are excited to explore educational program opportunities for high school students with the college.“
As a new alternative learning program is developed next school year, current AI students who want to earn a CPSD high school diploma (30 credits) may remain at AI High School and earn credits for graduation by participating in the new online learning program. This program requires students to be on-site daily with teachers available to assist and help them make expected progress in the online courses.
Several other educational options are available to AI High School students as well. AI High staff is working with students and families to determine which option best fits their needs.
“We are committed to providing alternative programming that is relevant, engaging and available to as many students as possible,“ LeBeau said. “By partnering with Clover Park Technical College, we can develop a quality alternative program for students that saves taxpayers money. In these financially difficult times, it is important to maximize our resources.“
For more information on changes to CPSD’s AI High School program, please call assistant superintendent for secondary education Gary Wilson at 253-583-5165.