California Alternative Education Research Project

California’s continuation high schools, designed for over-age and under-credited high school youth, offer an alternative for students at risk of dropping out from school.   Today almost 10 percent of California high schools students attend a continuation or other “alternative” high school.  An initial phase of study, completed in 2008, focused on providing policymakers with a better understanding of student demographics and various factors that affect student performance in these alternative schools.

A second phase of study, funded in part by the Stuart Foundation, will focus on in-depth case studies of high-performing continuation high schools in 5 diverse California Counties.  This phase will attend specifically to how so-considered “best practices” are enacted in diverse settings.  Data collected at both school and district levels will attend both to concrete examples of best practice, and also to the context conditions that enable or frustrate them. 

With additional support, we plan to do more field work and a special sub-study on interventions in these alternative schools focused on gang youth and young men and boys of color.  (Students in these alternative schools are disproportionally male, and 66% of students in Continuation schools statewide are African-American or Latino.