Alternative School

Alternative school is the name used in some parts of the world (in particular the United States) to describe an institution which provides part of alternative education. It is an educational establishment with a curriculum and methods that are nontraditional. These schools have a special curriculum offering a more flexible program of study than a traditional school.

A wide range of philosophies and teaching methods are offered by alternative schools; some have strong political, scholarly, or philosophical orientations, while others are more ad-hoc assemblies of teachers and students dissatisfied with some aspect of mainstream or traditional education.

In 1970, there were only a few alternative schools in operation in the United States. They originated to serve a growing population of students who were not experiencing success in the traditional schools. Today there are thousands, and the number continues to grow. The term "alternative" is now used to describe nearly every type of school imaginable, but many share certain distinguishing characteristics:
    Average or smaller classroom size
    Close student-teacher relationship
    Student decision-making and skills gained daily
    More involvement with school activities and around the community
    Diverse curriculum
    Peer guidance and parental involvement
    Prepares for a successful future and students can obtain skills inside and outside the classroom

This type of school is not only intended to accommodate students who are considered at risk of failing academically, but also students of all academic levels and abilities who are better served by a non-traditional program. Many programs are specifically intended for students with special educational needs, but others address primarily social problems that affect students, such as teenage parenthood or homelessness.

Students are typically referred to as at-risk students, and may have one or more of any several reasons such as challenging behavior, a need for special remedial programs, emotional disabilities, or problems that destabilize the student's personal life, such as homelessness or, in the case of migrant farmworkers, moving very frequently.