“The state’s four-year graduation rate is a good example of an important performance indicator that does not work as intended in the alternative school context. Few students attend alternative schools for four years—or even one full school year. Moreover, students may arrive at an alternative school having failed several classes. The state’s methodology for graduation rates makes alternative schools accountable for the academic deficits created while students attended the regular high school.”
The report recognizes that a meaningful accountability system should look at both the alternative school as well as the school of origin. This important study makes three primary recommendations for California that are relevant to all states.
- First, hold both alternative and regular schools accountable by employing more accurate and useful performance indicators, based on the complexities of the alternative school experience.
- Second, performance data for regular schools need to include data on almost all students who attend alternative schools so that regular schools have a stake in their success.
- Third, learn more about the experience of alternative school students to clarify and strengthen its system of alternative schools to ensure that schools are eligible for alternative metrics only when they serve truly at-risk students.
The Public Policy Institute of California's report is available at: http://www.ppic.org/content/pubs/report/R_516PWR.pdf