Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Hare, Dwight

Committee Member

McGrath, Vincent R.

Committee Member

Obringer, Stephen J.

Committee Member

Elrod, George F.

Committee Member

Prince, Debra L.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Secondary Education

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Education


Department of Curriculum and Instruction


Alternative school models should represent options for students characterized as disenfranchised and/or underachievers. Mississippi?s Alternative School Education Program Standards were established to provide a framework for local school districts to use in developing the alternative school?s design to meet the unique needs of the students it would serve. It was established by Mississippi Law to serve as a learning alternative placement for students who had difficulty adjusting to a regular classroom environment or who experienced disciplinary problems in the classroom or at school. Raywid (1999) suggested that unless alternative schools have sufficient freedom to do things differently from the traditional high schools ? organize themselves differently, offer different curriculum or at least a different articulated curriculum, provide a different school climate with flexibility ? then they are not going to be any more successful with their charges than the regular traditional high school has been. Five alternative schools identified by the Mississippi Department of Education as operating an exemplary Alternative School Education Program were examined in this study. A case study approach, which utilized observations, interviews and a report, was conducted to investigate eight areas identified as critical indicators necessary to operate an effective alternative school. These eight areas were: (a) a clearly and focused school mission, (b) a safe and orderly environment, (c) program expectations, (d) alternative educational opportunities, (e) instructional design, (f) a monitoring and evaluation system, (g) support services, and (h) parental/community involvement. Each alternative school visited met all eight indicators. However, the state?s program design falls short of rendering sufficient and appropriate services to young people with opportunity to obtain an education. The state?s program does offer an alternative school setting to children that will allow them to remain in school and not be deposited on the streets as a result of suspension or expulsion from the regular school setting. However, the way the Alternative School Education Program is designed goes a long way toward shaping the nature of its establishment and its prospects for success. There is an immediate need for the state to engage in a paradigm shift for its alternative school program?s design in order to better meet the needs of the public school system and the people it serves.