Student Improvement Program in Alternative High School

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This study examined program completion and student motivation among students within one particular alternative education high school program. Exiting students of the program are expected to have done so within 65 days. Based on the most recent student exit date prior to this study, only 18 of 29 students successfully completed the program within 65 days. Surveys were given to determine the motivational levels of the students failing to exit within the expected timeframe. A low level of motivation was determined for students failing to exit the program within 65 days. A six week intervention, known as Better Alternative, was implemented to increase student motivation and improve the numbers of students completing the program within the expected 65 days. This intervention included student mentors and motivational speakers, as well as lessons seeking to improve academic skills and enablers.


The site for this proposed project is a small, alternative high-school located on the west side of a school district in the central Florida area. The student enrollment of 30 includes 53% European American, 30% African American, and 17% Latin American. The teaching faculty includes 50% African American, 25% European American, and 25% Latin American. Of the 30 students at the site school, 43% receive free/reduced lunch, 27% receive services in the Exceptional Student (ESE) programs, and 10% receive services in the reading improvement program, Reading 180.

Students in the alternative program are expected to complete the program within 65 school days. In December, 2005, 29 students completed the program. Of these exiting students, only 62% (18) finished within 65 days. Since all students are expected to complete the program within the stated time frame, there was a 32% discrepancy (11 students). To determine the motivational levels of students failing to exit the program within 65 days, students will be given a survey.

Table 1. Sixty-five day Program Completion

SubjectsExpected number exiting program in 65 daysObserved number exiting program in 65 daysDiscrepancy Students attending Alternative Education Program

Based on the discrepancy presented in Table 1, the writer developed a Student Motivation Survey (see Appendix A) in order to determine motivation levels of students in the program.

Table 2- Student Motivation Survey

Student ResponseMinimum ExpectationsActual ObservationDiscrepancy *N= 11x= 44x= 18.73-25
*N= Students not completing Alternative Education Program within 65 days

Literature Review

Many past research studies have addressed the issue of alternative education. There have been many studies and articles relating to the alternative setting and its effects on students, both positive and negative. At the target school of the writer, students are not meeting the expectations of administrators and teachers. Students at this alternative high school are expected to complete the program within 65 days. The latest exit included only 18 of the 29 students who actually completed the program within the expected time. The writer presents a brief review of the literature in an attempt to understand why some students do not complete the program within 65 days, and what can be implemented to increase overall success in the program. The writer believes that a student who has a positive outlook on the alternative setting and understands its purpose will be more motivated to complete it in a timely manner.

In their study relating to intrinsic motivation among students in special, regular, and alternative education settings, Weist, Wong, Cervantes, Craik, and Kreil (2001) stated, "Behavior is seen not simply as a response to a stimulus, nor only as an attempt to fulfill internal and often unconscious drives…behavior depends on such factors as perceived competence and autonomy." (p.112). The researchers also note "…intrinsic motivation is primarily influenced...
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