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Alternative Education: Voices of Those Who Graduated Open Access

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The goal of this study was to allow high school graduates who attended both traditional and alternative education schools to speak about their experiences in both schools. The purpose of this study was to explore the experiences of high school graduates who attended an alternative school and explore how they made meaning of their experiences. This research was a basic, qualitative study exploring the voices of graduates. All graduates spent at least nine weeks in an alternative school to be deemed fully able to gauge their experience in an alternative school. Interviews were semi-structured and in-depth, allowing the graduates to speak freely in response to the questions. The graduates were also asked to write a letter to a student who may have been in the same situation they were in before being attending the alternative school. A set of a priori codes was developed before interviewing, which was based on information from the literature.The findings of the interviews and letters provided rich information as to the importance of alternative education. A recurring theme observed in the results was the impact of instructional personnel on their experience at both the traditional and alternative high schools. Graduates credited the environment to their success, both in terms of the physical and emotional feeling in the building. When asked about making meaning of their experience, four themes emerged from the participants in their interviews: the way the graduates viewed themselves and others at the alternative school, their self-evaluation, their determination, and the role of their family. This research can provide practical applications in the field of education. Principals and educational administrators can use this research to help students in alternative high schools, using the information to design programs to fit the needs of their students based on the information provided by the graduates. Teachers at both traditional and alternative schools can use this research to help them reach students who may be struggling as the graduates in this study did.

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