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Alternative Education Options: A Descriptive Study of California Continuation High Schools


This study draws on survey results and state administrative data reviewed by staff at WestEd and detailed in a supporting technical report (Austin & Dixon, et al., 2008), and on technical reports (McLaughlin, Atukpawu & Williamson, 2008; Ruiz de Velasco, 2008; and Perez & Johnson, 2008) that detail results from field research undertaken during the winter and spring of 2007 in nine California counties. Researchers visited 26 school districts and 40 schools (including 3 sending schools and 37 continuation high schools) that differed in focus, student outcomes, size, and metropolitan status. Researchers also interviewed individuals associated with county and community youth-serving agencies, such as juvenile justice, mental health, child protective services, and foster care. The study takes the continuation high school as the central point of analysis, but situates this analysis within state, county and district systems. Taken together, the size, scope and legislative design of the continuation high school program make clear that these schools are a cornerstone of the state's drop-out prevention strategy. This study concludes, however, that these schools of last resort may be the last schools ever attended by large numbers of California students because they are not getting the academic and support services they need to succeed. What seems to make the difference is prior capacity in the form of experience and strong leadership from both principals and teachers.

Suggested Citation:

Ruiz de Velasco, J., Austin, G., Dixon, D., Johnson, J., McLaughlin, M., & Perez, L. (2008). Alternative Education Options: A Descriptive Study of California Continuation High Schools. An Issue Brief from the California Alternative Education Research Project.


Alternative Education Options Issue Brief.pdf

Jorge Ruiz de Velasco
Greg Austin
Don Dixon
Joseph Johnson
Milbrey McLaughlin
Lynne Perez
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