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Student at risk
A student at risk is a young person who, because of a wide range of individual, personal, financial, familial, social, behavioral or academic circumstances, may experience school failure or other unwanted outcomes unless interventions occur to reduce the risk factors. Circumstances which often place students at risk may include but are not limited to:

  • not meeting state/local proficiency standards
  • grade retention
  • unidentified or inadequately addressed learning needs
  • alienation from school life
  • unchallenging curricula and/or instruction
  • tardiness and/or poor school attendance
  • negative peer influence
  • unmanageable behavior
  • substance abuse and other health risk behaviors
  • abuse and neglect
  • inadequate parental, family, and/or school support, and
  • limited English proficiency

Alternative Learning Programs
Alternative Learning Programs are defined as services for students at risk of truancy, academic failure, behavior problems, and/or dropping out of school. Such services should be designed to better meet the needs of students who have not been successful in the traditional school setting.

Alternative Learning Programs serve students at any level who are

  • suspended and/or expelled,
  • at risk of participation in juvenile crime,
  • have dropped out and desire to return to school,
  • have a history of truancy,
  • are returning from juvenile justice settings or psychiatric hospitals,and
  • whose learning styles are better served in an alternative setting.

Alternative learning programs provide individualized programs outside of a standard classroom setting in a caring atmosphere in which students learn the skills necessary to redirect their lives.

An alternative learning program must

  • provide the primary instruction for selected at-risk students,
  • enroll students for a designated period of time, usually a minimum of one academic grading period, and
  • offer course credit or grade-level promotion credit in core academic areas.

Alternative learning programs may also address

  • behavioral or emotional problems that interfere with adjustments to or benefiting from the regular education classroom,
  • provide smaller classes and/or student/teacher ratios,
  • provide instruction beyond regular school hours,
  • provide flexible scheduling, and/or
  • assist students in meeting graduation requirements other than course credits.

Alternative learning programs for at risk students typically serve students in an alternative school or alternative program within the regular school.

Alternative School
An alternative School is one option for an alternative learning program. It serves at-risk students and has an organizational designation based on the DPI assignment of an official school code.