“Alternative” defined: one of two or more available possibilities.
One of the beautiful realities of humanity is our similarity while another is our uniqueness. Within our designs for education, we can certainly recognize some application of patterns of delivery, structures and curriculum. But, we can also identify differentiation within a classroom, across various levels of curriculum or via special programs. One such special program model in the Belton School District provides students an alternative means of earning their credit toward their high school diploma.
Throughout history, there have been those who have found the “experience of school” to be a greater challenge than they are either willing or able to muster. These, often bright and capable, individuals fail to “do school” and as a result fall short of earning a high school diploma which can obviously have some crippling effect on the opportunities available to them when compared to those who were more successful in school. As a result, school systems attempt to provide “alternatives” to the traditional and comprehensive high school experience which most navigate. We have such a program in Belton and we have a percentage of our student population who are working toward earning their diploma through this vehicle.
Within our alternative setting, there are various levels of intervention and placement depends upon the degree of credit deficit and the age of the student. There are those who simply need to “re-take” some coursework while others may have significant credit deficit and greater interventions are necessary. The varying degrees of deficit are addressed either with computer-driven curriculum or a combination of computer-driven curriculum and some modified “face to face” instruction. For some students, the academic day involves reporting to the program, which is housed at Yeokum, all day. There are others who simply report to the program at Yeokum in either the morning or afternoon for “credit recovery” and attend on the BHS campus the remainder of their day. Another option is “night school.” “Night school” conducts sessions on Monday - Thursday and is also housed at Yeokum. In addition to those who seek to simply recover credit and earn their diploma outright, there is “Missouri Options.”
As was mentioned in an earlier issue of this series, the State of Missouri offers a program known as Missouri Options. Again, Missouri Options is a program available for those 17 years or older and at-risk of dropping out… the requirements of Missouri Options combines select coursework, attendance hours (school and work) and one’s achieving a specific score on the HiSet test. By successfully completing this program, the Belton High School student is able to earn his/her high school diploma. This “MoOps” option is available to students and districts across Missouri. We are pleased to be able to facilitate this option for select students.
As a point of information… Should one pass the HiSet, but fail to complete the coursework and attendance requirements of the MoOps program… he/she earns their “GED” - their General Equivalency Diploma.
In closing, “alternative education” models provide options for those who, for varied reasons, have “underperformed” during their high school experience. Many school system who do have students finding themselves in this predicament lack the resource or the attention to the challenges some face. As a community, we are both thankful and proud of the foresight and the response to this need.