- The 1993 General Assembly directed the Board of Education to establish and implement regional pilot projects to provide an educational alternative for certain students.
- The General Assembly provided funding to establish and maintain programs towards a goal of making regional alternative education programs available statewide.
- No local matching funds are required.
- School divisions provide in-kind support for such items as instructional materials, additional staff, pupil transportation and facilities.
- A VDOE formula based on staffing patterns and the composite index of local ability to pay determines funding.
Each program involves two or more school divisions working in collaboration to establish options for students who: 1) no longer have access to traditional school programs, or 2) are returning from juvenile correctional centers. Specifically targeted are those students who:
- have a pending violation of a school board policy,
- have been expelled or long term suspended, or,
- have been released from a juvenile correctional center and identified by the superintendent of the Department of Correctional Education and the program's local division superintendent to be in need of an alternative program.
While there is some variation in programs, all use best practices and provide for:
- annual assessment of placement;
- intensive, accelerated instructional program, with high standards for academic achievement and student behavior;
- low pupil-teacher ratio (average ratio is one teacher for every 10 students);
- collaborative efforts with parents and the community;
- program evaluation; and
- staff development and training.
The delivery of services ranges from classroom instruction to distance learning, from day and after-school programs to evening programs.
Services to Students
- Educational (core subject instruction, vocational, remediation, tutoring)
- Counseling (individual, group, family)
- Social skills training
- Career counseling (work adjustment, job shadowing, mentoring, work/study agreements)
- Technology education (direct instruction, networking, Internet, research)
- Field trips
- Conflict resolution and mediation
- Drug prevention education
Best Practice Indicators
- Differentiated instruction
- Flexible scheduling
- Required dress code
- Small class size
- Use of behavior modification
- Computer-assisted instruction
- Use of conflict mediation strategies
- Hands-on assignments
- Students in specially designed settings
- Individual attention
- Parent/school/business/community partnerships
VDOE strives to provide continued opportunities for project directors to share best practices as well as concerns in order to build effective programs to meet the needs of students requiring alternative educational settings. Currently, directors submit annual evaluations and reports that are used to guide the future direction of the program.