Alternative High School Program Evaluation by qyd44618



 Alternative High School Program

August 2005
                                                                 Alternative High School Program Evaluation

                                           Executive Summary

   •   The present alternative program at Montrose has proven to work for many students, affording them
       graduation opportunities they may not have had in the traditional high school setting of CHS.
   •   Students complete courses based on a portfolio of work rather than seat time.
   •   The individualized program allows students to graduate when they have earned enough graduation
       credits and passed all required courses and state assessments.
   •   The racial breakdown at Montrose is somewhat different than at Columbia High School.
   •   First year ninth grade students are not eligible for the Alternative Program.
   •   Most students who attend the Alternative Program successfully attain a high school diploma.
   •   The number of students graduating were: 17 in 2004-2005; 22 in 2003-2004 and; 23 in 2002 – 2003.
   •    The average time a student spends at Montrose is 1.125 years.
   •   The average credit attainment of graduated students at Montrose is 38.7 with a range of 15 to 61.25
   •   There is a waiting list of students requesting seats in the Alternative Program.


The Alternative Program at Columbia High School dates to 1974 when the program was initiated in order to
provide additional support to regular education students who were at risk for dropping out of school. The
program was housed at Columbia High School and provided separate classes in math, language arts,
history, and physical education for approximately 20 – 25 students each year. Most of the students were
juniors and seniors, although some were sophomores. Students took Alternative School classes in the
morning and, in the afternoon, took elective classes or participated in the Cooperative Education program.

During the 1994-1995 school year, the CHS principal appointed a Faculty Discipline Review Committee to
assess discipline procedures and practices at Columbia High School and to make recommendations for
improvement.      After months of studying the literature and evaluating various models for alternative
programs, the committee recommended that the Columbia High School Alternative Program be moved off-
site to the building formerly used as Montrose Elementary School. The committee believed that an off-site
model would better address the needs of at-risk students and provide a more positive atmosphere at
Columbia High School.

The Board of Education endorsed this recommendation and invested in refurbishing the property for use by
the Alternative Program. The Board contracted with an outside agency, Innovative Educational Programs,
to staff and administer the Alternative Program at Montrose. The projected opening of the program in the
fall of 1999 was postponed until April 2000. September 2000 marked the beginning of the first full year of
                                                                Alternative High School Program Evaluation
operation of the Alternative Program at Montrose with approximately 30-35 students. At the end of that
academic year, the contract with Innovative Educational Programs was terminated and the Alternative
Program was once again staffed and supervised by Columbia High School teachers and staff located at the
Montrose campus.

The Alternative Program at Montrose is designed for students who are at risk of dropping out of high school
because of their lack of success in a traditional high school setting such as Columbia High School. The
reasons for their lack of success include academic, attendance, and behavior problems. Many of these
behaviors stem from personal issues which impact on the students’ educational progress. While attending
a traditional program at Columbia, these students are often frustrated and discouraged which leads them to
engage in disruptive and unproductive behaviors at school. Despite the investment of considerable time
and energy by teachers and administrators, the students are not able to earn the credits required for
graduation while on the Columbia campus. The Alternative Program is not punitive nor is it a program for
students with severe behavioral problems. It is flexible and individualized so that students have a realistic
chance to attain their high school diploma in a reasonable amount of time. Enrollment in the program is
currently capped at 50 students in order to preserve the personal attention that is crucial to the program’s
success. There is a waiting list for admission to the Montrose campus and each year this list grows. Many
students who are not successful at CHS view the Alternative Program as a last chance and arrive hopeful of
a new beginning.

The Alternative Program graduated 23 students during the 2002 – 2003 school year and, 22 students during
the 2003-2004 school year.     In total, 17 students graduated during the 04-05 academic year. Some of
them were eleventh grade students able to earn enough credits to graduate with their CHS cohort. Table 1
depicts the breakdown of students who exited Montrose during the 2004-2005 year by the reasons for
                     Table 1. Montrose students Who Exited During 2004-2005
                   CHS Diploma           GED       Non-Attendance         Total Students Exited
                     17 61%          3    11%            8 28%                       28

                                                                 Alternative High School Program Evaluation

The Alternative Program at Montrose offers courses in the four core academic disciplines of language arts,
mathematics, social studies, and science as well as required courses in physical education, health, and
driver education. In 2003-2004, for the first time, art classes were offered in a limited Fridays-only program
in cooperation with the district art department. During 2004-2005 art and music was offered on Tuesdays
and Fridays. However, during the 2005-2006 school year, due to budget cuts, these offerings will be cut
back to ½ day on Fridays. As state graduation requirements are phased into high schools across New
Jersey, the alternative program will be faced with a shortage of course offerings necessary for students to
complete graduation requirements. CHS resources will be allocated to allow students at Montrose to meet
all graduation requirements.

As there are no special education or ESL services provided at Montrose, the alternative program is not an
option for these students. Preparation for the High School Proficiency Assessment is integrated into the
regular curriculum and the Special Review Assessment (SRA) is provided in math and language arts for
those students who do not pass the HSPA.

Instructional strategies at Montrose include traditional teacher-directed instruction, one-on-one teaching,
cooperative learning groups, and computer-assisted instruction.          Courses can be individualized and
students often work independently in order to accelerate their progress in earning credits. Credit is earned
upon completion of a portfolio of prescribed work that is evaluated both by the Montrose teacher and by the
appropriate subject chair at Columbia. A student who has not achieved proficiency in required skills or
completed a satisfactory amount of work at the end of an academic marking period receives a grade of “In
Progress” (IP) rather than a failing grade. The students can then continue to improve their skills, revise their
work, or complete their assignments and receive a satisfactory grade and credit toward graduation.
Because of the individualized nature of the instructional program at Montrose, the student can then
immediately begin work on another course without waiting for the next semester or the next school year to
commence. This continuous reinforcement of student effort motivates students to work diligently because
they believe that they can be successful in reaching their goal of graduation.

This year students have participated in field trips in connection with social studies classes. Resources for
academic research continue to be limited by the lack of a library, but Internet access has been improved for
on-line investigations, and students are able to use the library at CHS after school.          Computers are
available for word-processing and other applications.

                                                                  Alternative High School Program Evaluation

One Columbia High School guidance counselor serves as the guidance counselor for Montrose students.
She visits the campus regularly to discuss course work, academic planning and post-graduation plans with
students. A Student Assistance Counselor also visits Montrose campus regularly to advise students and to
conduct group discussions of pertinent issues. Next year’s budget includes a .2FTE guidance counselor
whose sole assignment will be to work with students in the Alternative Program.

The Alternative Program students may participate in Columbia High School events such as student
government, sports teams and assemblies. They also are able to participate in the school lunch program.
Their photographs are taken and included in the school yearbook.            The events most prized by these
students are the prom and graduation that they anticipate with hopeful enthusiasm.

                                             Selection Process
Deans, guidance counselors, teachers, parents, and students initiate recommendations for transfers to
Montrose. The primary criterion for selection is student failure to make normal progress toward graduation.
The flowchart attached (attachment 1) illustrates the collaborative process of determining whether a student
is a good candidate for the Alternative Program. Participation is voluntary and parents are always involved
in the decision-making process. Older students are given priority with the hope of helping them to graduate
with their class, if possible. Montrose is not intended for first-year ninth graders. An essential step in the
transfer process is the discussion between the student and the program supervisor regarding a plan for
completing the student’s course requirements and earning a diploma. The student enters the Alternative
Program with a destination in mind and a clearly marked map to reach that destination.

The individualized program at Montrose permits students to graduate when they complete the process of
earning their required graduation credits. As some students leave the program, new students are admitted
and integrated into the program. Although the practice of transferring students in the middle of a semester
creates some difficulties for the teaching staff, the introduction of individual students into the program one at
a time accommodates the acculturation of new students into the Montrose environment.

                                                                          Alternative High School Program Evaluation

Many Montrose students presented serious attendance problems prior to transferring to the Alternative
Program. A few of the students continue to attend erratically. Table 2 reflects the attendance at Montrose
to date. Although these numbers are less than desirable, they represent a significant improvement for
many students.
                                    Table 2. 2004-2005 Montrose Attendance
                                    Month              Enrollment        Monthly
                                    September          36                86%
                                    October            40                81%
                                    November           40                78%
                                    December           40                72%
                                    January            42                73%
                                    February           42                72%
                                    March              44                72%
                                    April              53                83%

                                                     Student Population

Tables 3 and 4 contain the ethnic background of students at Montrose as well as students at Columbia High


       Table 3. Self-Reported Ethnicity of the Most Recent 60 Students as of May 2005

                        White         Black           Mixed*       Hispanic     Asian     Other**       Total

       Total            11    18%     27      45%     6 10%        3    5%      0         13 22%        60

               •       * Mixed = Haitian/White ,Asian/Black, Hispanic/Black, Trinidadian/Black, Jamaican/Black
               •       ** Other = Jamaican, Trinidadian, Haitian, African, anyone from the West Indies

                        Table 4. Ethnicity of Students at Columbia High School 2005

                        White                 Black                Hispanic         Other*              Total

       Total            708     35%           1150      58%        85    4%         55    3%            1998

                   •     *Other is American Indian, Pacific Islander or Asian

                                                                Alternative High School Program Evaluation

Students in the Alternative Program can earn more credits than typical Columbia High School students in a
similar time period. That is one reason why students do not usually refer to themselves as ninth grade
students or tenth grade students, etc. Rather, both staff and students categorize students by their
motivation and intention to graduate within a certain time frame. For example, during the course of this
academic year many grade 11 students will earn a sufficient number of credits to graduate in June. The
graduation requirement of 120 credits, including all required courses and state assessments would be met
by these students. Table 5 is presented to illustrate the grade level as determined by credits earned for the
population. It also depicts the average time each grade level spent at Columbia or other high schools and
the average time spent at Montrose. It can be seen from this chart that, on the average, students do not
spend a lot of time finishing at Montrose. They are able to complete their graduation requirements quickly
and successfully. All grade 12 and some grade 11 students earned enough credits to graduate in June

          Table 5. Grade Level of Students in the Alternative Program as of May 2005
 GRADE 9                     GRADE 10            GRADE 11             GRADE 12            GRADUATED
 (< 30 credits and not first (30 -59 credits)    (60-89 credits)      (90 + credits)
 year students)
 Number of Students
 11                             20               15                   4                   10
 Average Time Spent at CHS or Other High Schools
 1.6 Years                      1.75 Years       2.6 Years            3.35 Years          4.42 Years
 Average Time Spent at Montrose
 .6                             .8               .8                   .8                  1.125

Table 6 provides a summary of the 10 students who have graduated from Montrose as of May 2005, and
their credit attainment history. (Seven other students met the graduation requirement but their histories
were not included at the time of this report.)

                                                                 Alternative High School Program Evaluation

            Table 6. Credit Attainment History of Ten Current Montrose Graduates
Student     CHS & Other           Time        Montrose            Time            Graduation       Years in
            HS Credits                         Credits                               Date          System
    1         109.75            4yr.2mo.         15              3 mos.            Jan 2005          4.5
    2            60.5             4 yr           61.25             1 yr           March 2005           5
    3            64.5             5 yr.           56           1yr. 5 mos         March 2005          6.5
    4             72             4.4 yr.          55           1 yr. 5 mos.       March 2005           6
    5           96.75             4 yr.          26.25           4 mos.           April 2005          4.4
    6           102.5            5 yrs.           20             3 mos.           Dec 2004             5
    7            107          4 yr. 3 mos.        20            3 months          Dec 2004            4.6
    8           59.75            4.5 yr.         63.5          1yr. 6 mos.        Dec 2004             6
    9           91.25            4.5 yr.          45             6 mos.           March 2005           5
   10          104.75              4.2            25             6 mos.           March 2005          4.8

These profiles illustrate the difference in earned credits between these students while they were at
Columbia and while they were at Montrose.         They indicate the positive academic changes for many
students when they become part of the Alternative Program.

                                    Operating Costs of the Program
The additional cost of the Alternative Program at the Montrose campus is the cost of operating the facility.

        Operating Expenses 2004-2005

                                     ELECTRIC                       $14,000
                                     Gas                             31,284
                                     Water                                1,400
                                     Telephone                             700
                                     Internet Services                    6,100
                                     Copier                               2,100
                                                       TOTAL       $55,584*

*This figure does not include any maintenance or repairs to the building, lawn service and snow removal.

                                                                  Alternative High School Program Evaluation

When the district announced its intention to locate the Alternative Program at Montrose, several vocal
residents of the neighborhood expressed their concerns about the presence of teenagers near their homes.
The practice of bussing all Montrose students was intended to keep the students off the neighborhood
streets, thus allaying the fears of the residents. Over the past three years, the school administration has
worked diligently and successfully to cultivate cooperative relationships with the people residing nearby.
There have been very few complaints from the neighbors, and those issues have been promptly addressed.
Because of the more relaxed attitudes of the neighbors, students are permitted to walk to Montrose if they
choose. A district school bus provides transportation to and from the Montrose campus for those students
who need it. The bus collects the students from three points along Prospect Avenue in Maplewood and
South Orange and drops the students at the same points in the afternoon.                Some parents provide
transportation for their children.

        1 FTE Physical Education Teacher/Program Supervisor
        1 FTE Mathematics Teacher
        1 FTE Science Teacher
        1 FTE English Teacher
        1 FTE Social Studies Teacher
        .2 FTE Fine Arts Teacher
        1 FTE Instructional Aide
        1 FTE Secretary
The primary purpose of the Alternative Program at Montrose is to provide social, emotional and academic
support to at-risk students so that they can earn the high school diploma that is critical to their later success
in life. The graduating class of 2005 included 17 students, many of whom seemed destined to become
dropouts before they transferred to Montrose. Their success was made possible by the personal attention,
individualized programming and flexible scheduling that distinguish the Alternative Program. The program
is based on sound principles of research and provides a more flexible program for at-risk students. This
program combines independent student work with teacher direction. Both the course instructor and the
subject chair review the students’ portfolios. This ensures that the student has demonstrated mastery of the
material and work that would be acceptable if the student were on the main campus at Columbia High
School. There is flexibility in how courses are offered and how credit is attained, not with the quality of the
student work.

                                                               Alternative High School Program Evaluation

The success of the Alternative Program can be measured in two ways. The first measure is the number of
students who exit with a high school diploma.    In 2004-2005 28 students exited the program. 61% (17)
students received CHS diplomas. 11% (3) students received GEDs, and 28% (8) students were dropped
due to non-attendance. 20 students, who had not been successful prior to Montrose, were able to get a
high school diploma and move on to the next phase of their lives.

A second measure of success is the long list of students who are hoping that they can take advantage of
the Alternative Program. This is a testament to the need to continue this program in order to provide
opportunities to students who cannot be successful in a traditional high school program. The investment of
resources required is amply justified by the success of the Alternative Program in helping students reach
their goal of earning a high school diploma.

                                                              Alternative High School Program Evaluation

Staff Report and Analysis

The staff at Montrose wanted to share their thoughts, philosophies and research with the Board of
Education. These are attached as Interim Analysis of the Montrose Alternative Program.

The following pages were prepared by Montrose staff.        The Business Office cannot substantiate the
accuracy of the conclusions regarding dollar savings. We do however agree that it is a wiser use of
resources to offer the Alternative Program to these at-risk students, than to attempt to maintain them at

       Interim Analysis of the Montrose Alternative Program
                                                                      Version: 05/05/2005 12:48 PM

A report based upon analysis of on-going statistical and ethnographic data collected from a number of
sources including student case studies; student and parent responses to program experiences; achieved
credit, grade, and graduation data; per credit cost projections; current year graduation lists; and staff
observations covering the Montrose off-site experience from 1999 to the present.

       Overview of Inherent Benefits of the Small School Model
       Table 1: Cultural Breakdown of Most Recent Student Database
              Actual Student Extrapolations from Supporting Tables 2A, 2B, 2C
              Actual Student Extrapolations from Supporting Table 3
       Tables 2A-C: The Montrose Campus Accelerated Credits Model -
              Table 2A: Hypothetical Intervention #1 – 20 – 100 Credits
              Table 2B: Hypothetical Intervention #2 – 40 / 80 Credits
              Table 2C: Hypothetical Intervention #3 – 60 / 60 Credits
       Table 3: School Year 2004 – 2005 Cost Savings Projected
       Table 4: Some Current Examples of Actual Credit Deficiencies
       Table 5: Program Satisfaction Survey Results: Student / Parent Responses
       Text Addendum, Staff Comments, Overview, and Conclusions

                                                                 Alternative High School Program Evaluation

Overview of Inherent Benefits of the Small School Model

Small schools are not an unproven strategy. There is substantial evidence within the annals of educational
research to confirm their effectiveness. Such schools are more often than not populated with adolescents
facing astonishing individual and familial hardships. These are the very students identified as at risk for
falling into the “achievement gap” pool of the No Child Left Behind Act. Most significantly, students
appearing on our growing list of graduates were once considered potential dropouts at Columbia. The small
school-within-a-school model creates the supportive community these students need to master a rigorous
academic curriculum, to experience personal and academic success, and to gain the maturity necessary to
thrive in college and in the workplace.

These are teenagers who, for a variety of reasons, falter in one environment but flourish in another. A few
years ago a proposed sudden removal of the program back to the Columbia campus to make room for the
students and staff of the Marshall School brought to the surface a multitude of serious concerns of our
students. A resounding 96% of the students who would have been affected by that move confirmed that
they were seriously concerned about their inability to avoid trouble once back at Columbia High School.
They pointed out that being physically separated within one wing of Columbia would not provide any
defense against the pressures to roam the halls, disappear from the building, or simply cut altogether as
they once did.

While programs such as Montrose can be analyzed from an economic standpoint, where such schools do
exist, they confirm the moral and ethical commitment made by the education community to serve all
students under their charge. It is understandable that fiscal responsibility requires a careful monetary review
of the Montrose program and includes considerations of the apparent additional costs of an off-site facility.
This report should open a necessary dialog that refocuses fiscal analysis to consider soft as well as hard
dollar costs. In actuality, there are substantial monetary advantages to the off-site model. The Montrose
Campus has become a significant success story within the Columbia community. Some of the most needy
students ever to attend Columbia have had their lives turned around because it exists. We should all revel
in these successes.

                                                                      Alternative High School Program Evaluation
Cultural Breakdown of Most Recent 60 Student Database*

                   White         Black         Mixed**        Hispanic         Asian     Other***     Total

       Total       11 ( 18%)     27 (45%)      6 (10%)        3   (5%)         0 (0%)    13 (22%)     60

*Student Database: No less than 50% of the current student body meet several “achievement gap” markers
and critical concerns of the No Child Left Behind Act (i.e., free or reduced lunch, poor scores on
standardized assessments of math and language prof9iciencies, cultural ethnicity, etc.).
**Mixed = Haitian/White, Asian/Black, Hispanic/Black, Trinidadian/Black, Jamaican/Black
***Other = African, Jamaican, Trinidadian, Haitian, Anyone from West Indies.

Many pedagogical experts strongly suggest an end to “leveling” as an effective strategy to offset student
underachievement. Since the inception of the “off-site” location, Montrose students have not been subject
to the grade level or ability leveling policies of the larger Columbia campus. Instead, they attend classes
predicated only upon their credit deficiencies or the required sequence of specific classes (ie., Algebra I,
Algebra II, US History I, US History II).

Actual Student Experiences Extrapolated from Tables 2A, 2B, 2C

                                       2 YEARS AT        2.5 YEARS              2 YEARS AT
                                       CHS               AT                     MONTROSE
       From Table 2A
              Credits Attempted                    60                    100                N/A
                 Credits Earned                    20                    100                N/A
       From Table 2B
              Credits Attempted                    60                    N/A                 80
                 Credits Earned                    40                    N/A                 80
       From Table 2C
              Credits Attempted                    60                    N/A                 60
                 Credits Earned                    60                    N/A                 60

Actual Student Experiences Extrapolated from Table 3

       STUDENT        GRADUATION            CHS         CHS   MONTROSE                  MONTROSE       OUT OF
                      DATE                  CREDITS     YEARS CREDITS                   YEARS          DISTRICT
       A              12/23/2004                  72              3                55           1.4            ---
       B              10/15/2004               64.50              2                46           1.3           ----
       C              10/22/2004               59.75              2             63.50           1.6             1
       D              11/12/2004              109.75              3                15      2 months             1
       E              11/30/2004              104.75              4                25      2 months            ---
       F              12/10/2004                 107              3                20      3 months             1
       G              03/18/2005               91.25              1                45      6 months             3

                                                              Alternative High School Program Evaluation

Montrose Campus Accelerated Credits Model
(Two Year and Accelerated Time Frames)

Program Characteristics:
   • Independent studies allow for credits acceleration
   • Multiple core curriculum scheduling allows for credits acceleration
   • Investigating credits potential for fine arts curriculum
   • Investigating credits potential for community service projects
   • Investigating credits potential for foreign language courses/college preparatory model

Hypothetical Intervention #1 – 20 Credits at CHS/100 Credits at Montrose

                                              FIRST 2 YRS @ NEXT 2.5 YRS AT
                                              CHS             MONTROSE
                     Total Credits Earned                  20            100
                          Total Cost/Year             $11,490        $12,000
                   Total Cost (2/2.5 years)           $22,980        $30,000
                           Cost Per Credit             $1,149          $300

Hypothetical Intervention #2 – 40 Credits at CHS/80 Credits at Montrose

                                              FIRST 2 YRS @ NEXT 2 YRS @
                                              CHS             MONTROSE
                     Total Credits Earned                  40            80
                          Total Cost/Year             $11,490       $12,000
                   Total Cost (2/2.5 years)           $22,980       $24,000
                           Cost Per Credit              $ 575          $300

Hypothetical Intervention #3 – 60 Credits at CHS/60 Credits at Montrose

                                              FIRST 2 YRS @ NEXT 2 YRS @
                                              CHS             MONTROSE
                     Total Credits Earned                  60            60
                          Total Cost/Year             $11,490       $12,000
                   Total Cost (2/2.5 years)           $22,980       $24,000
                           Cost Per Credit              $383           $400

                                                                    Alternative High School Program Evaluation

Cost Savings Projections, 2004-05 SY

Note: Actual graduation dates for students enrolled 9/04 at Montrose. One student graduated in less than
4 years, others avoided attending for a full fifth year. Some students have begun attending county college

      A        12/23/2004           $ 6,894            $ 7,200
      B        10/15/2004             9,192              9,600
      C        10/22/2004             9,192              9,600
      D        11/12/2004             8,043              8,400
      E        11/30/2004             8,043              8,400
      F        12/10/2004             6,894              7,200
      G        03/18/2005             3,447              3,600
                   TOTAL           $ 51,705           $ 54,000

*Assumes cost of $1,149/month/student as per NJDOE 2003-04 School Report Card dated February 9, 2005. Also
assumes CHS per credit costs and Montrose per credit costs are identical.

**Assumes a Montrose hypothetical cost per credit of $1,200, extrapolated over a 10-month school year.

Current Examples of Credit Deficiencies/Time Invested

   1.      Student AA attended CHS for two years at a cost of $22,980 and received 2.5 credits

                               Per Credit Cost:        $9,192

   2.      Student CC attended CHS for 2 years at a cost of $22,980 and received 7.5 credits

                               Per Credit Cost:        $3,064

   3.      Student BB attended CHS for 2 years at a cost of $22,980 and received 10 credits

                               Per Credit Cost:        $2,298

               Student BB has now earned 90 credits to date at Montrose over 1.75 years

                               Per Credit Cost:        $ 230

Program Satisfaction Survey Results: Student and Parent Responses

               EXCELLENT         GOOD           ACCEPTABLE          NOT SATISFACTORY            TOTAL NO.
STUDENTS 14         (41%)        18 (53%)        2   (6%)           0 (0%)                      34  (100%)
PARENTS  8          (44%)         7 (39%)        3   (17%)          0 (0%)                      18  (100%)

                                                               Alternative High School Program Evaluation

Text Addendum, Staff Comments, Overview, and Conclusions

These observations and conclusions are based upon staff interviews, student statements, parental
comments, and observational empirical data. There are no supporting hard statistical data that can be
offered to support them. We do know that visitors and substitute teachers who expected to encounter a
multitude of negative incidents when they first arrived at Montrose instead left with dramatically changed
positive impressions.

   1. The most dramatic alterations of student behavior witnessed at the Montrose Campus include
      significantly improved attendance patterns, increased sociability skills, increased time on task,
      achievement of required credits, and numerous instances of matriculation to higher educational
      institutions as well as acceptance to trade schools and the military services.

   2. Time and again Montrose students identify the physical separation between Columbia and the Clark
      Street address as one of the most important positive characteristics of the program. They have
      identified their inability to process successfully the unusual abundance of educational, social, and
      structural stimuli of Columbia High School.

   3. Students cite the many instances of trouble they got into in the past under the influence of their
      peers at the high school. They do not blame those peers for their troubles; instead they identify a
      relationship dynamic that the proximity to those peers creates. Our students say it is easy to engage
      in “avoidance” maneuvers at Columbia when your friends are out in the halls or somewhere off
      campus waiting for you.

   4. Our students have stated that it is easier to “fall between the cracks” at Columbia because it is such
      a large system. They mention that at Montrose there are no such cracks. A student might want to cut
      a class, but there is really nowhere to hide. Such cutting is a valueless endeavor since staff
      awareness of their absence would be and has been immediate.

   5. Montrose, because of its class sizes, staffing, and off-site location, is better able to provide the
      personal and extra support services and environment that these students require. Students say that
      they do not feel they are being lost in the shuffle the way they were at Columbia.

   6. They state that they finally feel that they belong and have a share in the dynamic of the school
      community, many for the first time in their lives. They are now interacting with people that they might
      never have even spoken to at the high school.

   7. Academic, behavioral, and personal issues are dealt with on the spot as they occur with little or no
      time lag. Staff members or students may initiate a same day private conference. Keeping all of the
      drama close often keeps small situations from becoming major disciplinary issues.

   8. Students state that they often cannot cope with the pressure to achieve in the competitive
      atmosphere of the high school. Being average is not good enough. They become anxious and
      fearful of failing. Given their degree of disaffection with the educational process and environment,
      they cut classes, withdraw, and frequently succumb to depression.


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