Success for Nontraditional Students. (Meeting Students' Individual Needs)

Article excerpt

How and why is success achieved with students who have been unsuccessful in traditional settings? If you were to walk into an average elementary/secondary school, you would see students attending classes, using their lunch period to socialize and possibly participate in an after-school sports activity. Many of these students are completing their class work and homework every day, and sometimes participating in an after-school tutorial program if they need extra assistance.

However, there are students who rarely attend school, and when they do, they cut classes or are tardy, and are typically not prepared for school. Teachers find that dealing with these students is not pleasant and often results in a written referral to the assistant principal's office.

Most educators find these students lack a personal commitment to learning. They need an environment where their individual needs are met at a different level, and they need to be motivated to remain in school and become productive citizens.

There are school districts in the State of California with programs that do just that. Stockton Unified School District has an alternative/continuation high school that is called Model Alternative. Principal Andres R. Torres and his staff promote student success through a rigorous curriculum combined with electives that help meet students' educational and vocational needs. Many of the students need personal and occupational guidance as a part of their everyday program. All of them have at one time or another attended a typical setting in which they were not successful.

At Model Alternative/Continuation High School there are special programs to ensure the best possible education and success for all of these nontraditional students. These programs include pre-employment job skills training; Gateway Program, a district program for pregnant minors in grades 7-12; an Infant-Toddler Center that offers free child care to students enrolled at the school site through the Parent and Child Education Program; S.T.A.R (Strategies and Techniques for the Advancement of Reading), a program for students who read below grade level; and Regional Occupational Programs in the areas of public safety and computer-based office training. …