The Ministry of Education in Ontario (MOE) clearly outlines the essential role of the ‘alternative school’ for students who have not been successful in the conventional school system. In its outline, the MOE describes the the students’ need for such a program and, as well, describes succinctly the goal of the alternative program: “An alternative school may be established, for example, for students at risk of not completing their diploma requirements. It can provide these students with opportunities to develop the skills and confidence they need to re-enter the regular system. An alternative school can also benefit students who wish to take an individualized program.” (Ontario Secondary Schools, Grades 9 to 12: Program and Diploma Requirements,1999) Comprehensive Educational Research informs our development of an Alternative Program in several ways. First, and most importantly, it supports the knowledge we have gained from our own individual experiences. Secondly it provides us with invaluable insight into the depth of information that others in our profession have developed so that we may stand on their shoulders as we strive to support our school’s at-risk population.
1. It is critical that students in this program make the decision to participate; research unanimously supports the fact that students who are conscripted into such a program are destined for disruption and failure;
2. Students will be referred to the program in two ways. The first will be by self-referral – a process that will expand as the program develops and grows in success. The second will be by nomination from classroom teachers, parents, social workers and psychologists, special education teachers, student success teachers, counsellors and the administration of the school. Upon both self-referral and nomination for the program, the MAP staff will make a comprehensive review of the student’s school records, interview the student and make a decision to invite the student to participate in the program.