Alternative education programs close the gap certain at-risk students fall thought. However, current funding stipulations for alternative education in Indiana restrict school corporations from receiving state funding for their programs if the student does not meet all the criteria.
Blended learning programs like the Warrior Academy, the program discussed in the feature article Blended Learning Programs Help Indiana Students Graduate On Time, help students who need an alternative to traditional classroom settings. Any program a school offers costs money, and Indiana offers financial help to schools for students who qualify to participate. Yet there are still students in need who do not meet all of the qualifications. These are the students still falling through the cracks.
“We have students who need this program, yet don’t meet all the requirements for funding,” says Karen Butler, teacher for the Warrior Academy. “These students are falling through the cracks.”
According to the Indiana Department of Education’s Frequently Asked Questions, a student must meet one of the following criteria to be eligible for an alternative education.
- Student intends to withdraw for has withdrawn before graduation
- Student has failed to comply academically and would benefit from instruction offered in a different manner from the traditional school
- Student is a parent or expecting parent
- Student is employed and employment is necessary for support
- Student is disruptive
These five criteria, set throughout Indiana Code 20, identify the student as eligible or at-risk. However, to be eligible for funding, the code also requires the student attend the program for a minimum of three hours. There are students at the Warrior Academy who only need help in one class or subject to be able to graduate on time. Then there is the question of students who are not at-risk.
“The State of Indiana does not recognize alternative education, or alternative students, unless they are at-risk. They don’t recognize the student who is doing a C job, who could actually be doing an A job if the material was presented in a different format,” says Butler.
Butler sees the future of education, particularly the Warrior Academy program, as a way for students to be able to work at their own pace, and on subjects they want as well as need, a program without restrictions on class size or availability.
“Teach to the student’s ability, not to where you think they should be, or where the state mandates they should be.”