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San Jose Schoolsí Alternative Education Program Saves Troubled Students

A Different Kind of Education

San Jose Schools face the same problem that all school districts around the country face, losing at risk students. The San Jose School District has found a solution to this problem while still including these students as a part of the traditional school population. San Jose Schools alternative school program allows for individual attention to the studentsí needs while having them participate in activities at the regular campuses.

For some students the traditional school format doesnít work. Students can become apathetic and risk not graduating. In the San Jose School Districtís alternative education program students can play sports, participate in extracurricular activities and be included in the graduation ceremonies of a regular school. At risk students can have English language proficiency issues, difficulty in motivation, simply moving to a new school or many other seemingly small but crucial reasons. San Jose Schools are successfully meeting the needs of these students.

Helping Students to Learn

The alternative education program of San Jose School District could become a model for the rest of the country. Classes in these programs tend to be much smaller and focus on the needs of the individual student. The San Jose School District has approximately thirty-two thousand students, so has to find a way to manage the needs of all thee students while dealing with the concerns of budget and resource allocation.

San Jose Unified School District has created smaller alternative specialty campuses inside six of its high schools. Each of these campuses has about fifty students being instructed by two teachers and an on-site counselor. The students involved in the program are generally juniors or seniors who are in peril of actually graduating from high school. The aim of the program is to help these students catch up in the academic credits needed to graduate. The students spend about half the day in intensive classes and the rest of the day taking classes at a community college or a vocational training facility.

The principal of San Jose School Districtís alternative program, Linda Ferdig-Riley, uses information provided by the high schools to choose the students who are in need of assistance and will be included in the program. The program provides a distinctive and exclusive curriculum for each student. These specialized plans include monthly reporting of grades, personalized counseling sessions, and career guidance that is specifically designed of the different students.

How San Jose School Districtís Alternative Program Compares

This program appears to be working; San Jose School District has around a seven percent dropout rate as compared to the California state average which is double that rate. The amount of students in the program is smaller than that in other district yet the results seem to be better. The number of students considered for the program is far more than the number of available spaces.

Other alternative educational programs in the state keep the students from actively feeling that they are a part of the school population. San Jose School Districtís alternative program relieves the fears that could keep students from taking advantage of this opportunity. This program allows students to attend school functions at their old high school which helps to keep them as a part of the school population and alleviates the stresses the students feel when changing to the alternate campus. When trying to keep students in school these types of pressures might be key in keeping them in school.

About the Author: Stacy Andell is a staff writer for Schools K-12, providing free, in-depth reports on all U.S. public and private K-12 schools. Stacy has a nose for research and writes stimulating news and views on school issues. For more on San Jose schools visit

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