Presentation Title

What Are the Stories of Students Who Attend an Alternative High School?

Brief Biography

Carrie Kane is a 4th-year doctoral student working on a degree in special education. Her research is focused on students with learning and behavior disabilities in alternative school settings.

Highest Degree of Presenter(s)

Carrie Kane MEd

Zachary Johnson MEd

Mora Pressley MEd

David Houchins PhD

Kristen Varjas PhD

Presentation Abstract

Students who attend alternative school have typically had a greater number of factors in their lives that put them at risk for failure in school than do their peers in traditional schools. (Fulkerson, Harrison, & Beebe, 1997). These students have a variety of stories about their experiences in school and life that contributed to their attendance in an alternative setting. Through this mixed-methods study, researchers conducted the Three Interview Series of in depth phenomenological interviews (Seidman, 2006) with high school students to identify their experiences that have led to them attending alternative schools, what school is like at the alternative school and what are their prospects for the future and what control do they have over that. Quantitative data was collected using a demographic survey, Psychological Sense of School Membership (Goodenow, 1993), and the Gehlback’s Teacher-student relationship scale: Student Survey, and Nowicki-Strickland Locus of Control Scale for Children (Norwicki & Strickland, 1971). Alternative schools are often the last chance oppertunities for students who have been unsuccessful in traditional schools to be successful (Foley & Pang, 2006; Leah & Lange, 2003; Lehr et al., 2009; Tobin & Sprague, 2002). Secondary students who attend alternative school are often either at risk of dropping out, have a history of truancy, physical abuse, substance abuse, homelessness or disruptive behavior, and have higher rates of suicide attempts, sexual activity, and pregnancy. These students have stories to share about their journeys through school and life. This research was conducted to gain information from these stories that may make it possible to find ways to help these students succeed in school. Research often examines the behavior and academic performance of students who attend alternative schools but rarely does it ask students about their experiences.

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What Are the Stories of Students Who Attend an Alternative High School?

Students who attend alternative school have typically had a greater number of factors in their lives that put them at risk for failure in school than do their peers in traditional schools. (Fulkerson, Harrison, & Beebe, 1997). These students have a variety of stories about their experiences in school and life that contributed to their attendance in an alternative setting. Through this mixed-methods study, researchers conducted the Three Interview Series of in depth phenomenological interviews (Seidman, 2006) with high school students to identify their experiences that have led to them attending alternative schools, what school is like at the alternative school and what are their prospects for the future and what control do they have over that. Quantitative data was collected using a demographic survey, Psychological Sense of School Membership (Goodenow, 1993), and the Gehlback’s Teacher-student relationship scale: Student Survey, and Nowicki-Strickland Locus of Control Scale for Children (Norwicki & Strickland, 1971). Alternative schools are often the last chance oppertunities for students who have been unsuccessful in traditional schools to be successful (Foley & Pang, 2006; Leah & Lange, 2003; Lehr et al., 2009; Tobin & Sprague, 2002). Secondary students who attend alternative school are often either at risk of dropping out, have a history of truancy, physical abuse, substance abuse, homelessness or disruptive behavior, and have higher rates of suicide attempts, sexual activity, and pregnancy. These students have stories to share about their journeys through school and life. This research was conducted to gain information from these stories that may make it possible to find ways to help these students succeed in school. Research often examines the behavior and academic performance of students who attend alternative schools but rarely does it ask students about their experiences.