GR revamps alternative programs

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Only 33 percent of the students enrolled in Grand Rapids alternative high schools graduated last year, a number the district believes can be improved by switching to online courses, extended days and hours and a lower student-adult ratio, according to The Grand Rapids Press.

Some of the district's 21 alternative high schools will be renamed "Student Success Centers" under the district's reform plan, according to The Press. Beginning this fall, alternative education students will take online courses under the supervision of teachers, paraprofessionals and college tutors, putting the adult-student ratio at 4.6-to-1, the report said. But they also will retain a connection with their "base high school," including receiving their high school diploma from that school and also being eligible to participate in interscholastic sports through that school, The Press reported.

"Our graduation and academic failure rates speak rather clearly as to why we need dramatic, innovative changes," Kurt Johnson, director of alternative education and athletics, told The Press. "We have an obligation to the children and families we serve to re-think, restructure, and reform our alternative education services."

Enrollees could take morning, afternoon, evening or weekend classes throughout an extended school year, the report said.

Grand Rapids Press, "GRPS eyes alternative education reforms," June 8, 2009

Michigan Education Report, "New high school graduation requirements in action," May 6, 2008