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Blueprint for Accountability Systems for Alternative High Schools

“Students at transfer schools are often called at- risk because of a system that treats them unequally”

–Principal of a New York City transfer school

Partner: Center of American Progress

Blueprint for Accountability Systems for Alternative High Schools provides analysis and recommendations for researchers, practitioners, and policymakers to better evaluate alternative high schools, schools established to serve the unique needs of students who have struggled and fallen behind in other high schools. Alternative schools are currently held to similar standards as those evaluating traditional high schools, resulting in over-identification of failure and under-identification of success. School accountability systems must be better designed to measure the nuances of student experience in alternative schools.

The report reviews alternative schools on a national level and within New York City, using data from the National Center of Education Statistics and the NYC Department of Education. Based on the findings, the report proposes detailed new metrics for evaluation of alternative schools, and makes the following recommendations to states and local districts:

  • Consider developing measures suggested in this report: indices for graduation rate; academic proficiency; school quality; and student success.
  • Develop a uniform definition of alternative schools for the state.
  • Work in partnership to combine data of sufficient size and scope to make statistical analyses reliable and more sophisticated benchmark comparisons realizable.
  • Pilot and validate measures before committing to them as part of an accountability system.

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