Catching Butterflies, by Brooke Haycock for the Education Trust, tells the stories of five students who disengaged from school in traditional settings and were drawn back in alternative schools, including a school in a juvenile detention facility.
“Student perspectives, especially from those who have struggled academically, are a largely untapped resource for improving schools,” said Haycock.
By the age of 17, Goldie had attended 11 different schools. Once an average student, she’d stopped caring, showing up regularly or doing any work when she did go. No one seemed to notice. Then she was expelled for fighting.
In a GED program, she set her own goals. “If I need help, I can ask the teacher for help but, basically, I get to do it on my own.”
At effective alternative schools, educators listen to students to find out why school hasn’t worked for them, writes Haycock. These schools offer social-emotional and academic supports, accelerate the development of academic skills so students can “graduate within a reasonable timeframe” and foster leadership skills and independence “by assigning jobs to students and giving them progressively more responsibility in the classroom.”