Posted: Fri, 10/07/2011 - 2:05pm Updated: Thu, 05/14/2020 - 1:02pm

Alternative Education is designed to meet the needs of at-risk students who are not succeeding in the traditional setting. Students are provided with a variety of options that can lead to graduation and are supported by services essential to success. While each of Indiana’s alternative education programs is unique, they share the following characteristics identified in the research as common to successful alternative schools:

  • Maximum teacher/student ratio of 1:15;
  • Must operate for a minimum of 3 hours a day (IC: 20-30-2.2)
  • Small student base;
  • Clearly stated mission and discipline code;
  • Caring faculty with continual staff development;
  • School staff having high expectations for student achievement;
  • Learning program specific to the student's expectations and learning style;
  • Flexible school schedule with community involvement and support; and
  • Total commitment to have each student be a success.

Alternative education types include, but are not limited to, the following: alternative classrooms, school-within-a-school programming, separate alternative schools, and second or last-chance schools for disruptive students. Just as there are many types and settings for alternative schools, there are many delivery models based on the programs’ philosophy and the needs of the students they serve. Some follow a school community partnership model that features collaboration with the larger community. Others may combine academics with a vocational intervention that focuses on making school meaningful while preparing students for the workforce. Still others employ a behavioral intervention model. In Indiana, the programs and models designed to meet the needs of disaffected youth are as diverse as the students themselves.

Despite this diversity, however, all alternative education programs are held accountable for helping students master the Indiana Academic Standards and must comply with educational laws and rules or seek appropriate waivers. In 1997, the legislature passed alternative education legislation to provide funding to school corporations, via a state grant, to help cover additional expenses inherent in alternative education. To qualify as an alternative education program, the program must "be an educational program for eligible students that instructs the eligible students in a different manner than the manner of instruction available in a traditional school setting." To obtain alternative education funding based on the formula established in the legislation, public school corporations must:

  • Submit an approved grant for an individual or joint program;
  • Serve eligible students. Eligible students are students who:
    • Intend to withdraw or have withdrawn from school before graduation;
    • Have failed to comply academically and would benefit from instruction offered in a manner different from the manner of instruction available in a traditional school;
    • Are parents or an expectant parents and are unable to regularly attend the traditional school program;
    • Are employed and the employment is necessary for support and interferes with a part of student's instructional day; or
    • Are disruptive (as defined in IC 20-10.1-4.6-1.6).
  • Develop written individual service plans;
  • Employ the teachers providing the academic instruction; and
  • Conduct program sessions for a minimum of three hours.