Alternative School

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:

  • Small size
  • Close student-teacher relationship
  • Student decision-making
  • Diverse curriculum
  • Peer guidance & Parental involvement

An alternative school, sometimes referred to as a mini school, or remedial school, is any public or private school having a special curriculum, especially an elementary or secondary school offering a more flexible program of study than a traditional school. Alternative schools is geared towards students whose needs cannot be met in the traditional school such as underachievers who do not qualify for special education. Generally an alternative school serves as an extension to a larger traditional privately or publicly-run primary or secondary school, although similar programs exist in higher education settings that serve adults returning to school. They generally function as stand-alone schools, or in the case of mini schools, as a "school within a school", where they physically operate within the walls of the larger school. Sometimes, particularly in the United States, the phrase alternative school can refer to a school which practices alternative education. This is a much broader use of the term, covering all forms of non-traditional educational methods and philosophies, including school choice, independent school, home schooling, and alternative school as described in this article.

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