Student Support and Remediation: State Provides Alternatives for At-Risk/Out-of- School Youth
Education Commission of the States • 700 Broadway, Suite 810 • Denver, CO 80203-3442 • 303.299.3600 • Fax: 303.296.8332 •

Student Support and Remediation: State Provides Alternatives for At-Risk/Out-of- School Youth

to Earn a Standard High School Diploma

Why does it matter?
  • States and students benefit when there are alternative pathways for at-risk or out-of-school youth to earn standard diplomas.

    ECS has identified policies in 16 states that provide alternatives for at-risk or out-of-school youth to work toward graduating from high school with a standard diploma. These policies are distinct from traditional alternative schooling options in that they feature an emphasis on returning students to the regular classroom, provide options for students to earn their diploma at postsecondary institutions, allow for flexibility in a student's schedule or allow students to earn credit through demonstrated mastery of content.

    Listed policies do not include competency-based credit programs aimed at all students, early college high schools or programs that lead to a GED or an adult high school diploma. (An upcoming ECS database will examine early college high schools in the states.)

    Methodology: This information was collected from state statutes, rules and regulations, and will be updated as new policies and programs are enacted.

    Sources for all data points are accessible through this link.

    Last updated: June 7, 2007

    Research conducted by Melodye Bush and Kyle Zinth. Please contact Jennifer Dounay Zinth at 303.299.3689 or with comments or questions about this database.

State provides alternatives for at-risk/out-of-school youth to earn a standard high school diploma
Alabama None identified
Arkansas None identified
California None identified
Colorado None identified
Connecticut None identified
Delaware None identified
Florida Yes, districts are required to adopt policies that provide students with:
  • Alternative methods to demonstrate competency in required courses and credits.
  • Credit recovery courses and intensive reading and math intervention courses based on student performance on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT).
  • Creative and flexible scheduling designed to meet student needs.
  • Georgia

    Yes, state's Gateway to College Academy is designed to recover high school dropouts ages 16-20. Participating students have the option of completing high school while concurrently receiving credit towards an associate's degree in either academic transfer or technical education options.

    Illinois None identified
    Indiana Yes, two programs.

    School Flex Program
    Allows eligible students to attend school for a minimum of three hours a day as they pursue their diploma. Eligible students are 11th or 12th graders who have: (1) failed the ISTEP+ graduation exam at least twice; (2) been determined to be chronically absent; (3) been determined to be a habitual truant; (4) been significantly behind in credits for graduation, as identified by an individual's school principal; (5) previously undergone at least a second suspension from school for the school year; (6) previously undergone an expulsion from school; or (7) been determined by the their principal and parents to benefit by participating in the program.

    Participating students must: (1) attend school for at least three hours of instructional time per school day; (2) pursue a timely graduation; (3) provide evidence of college or technical career education enrollment and attendance or proof of employment and labor that is aligned with their career academic sequence; (4) not be suspended or expelled while participating in a school flex program; (5) pursue course and credit requirements for a general diploma; and (6) maintain a 95% attendance rate.  

    Fast Track to College
    Authorizes state higher educational institutions to establish fast track to college programs that offer qualified individuals an opportunity to earn a high school diploma while earning credits for a degree. To be eligible for program participation, individuals must be either: (1) at least 19 and not enrolled in a school; or (2) at least 17 and have consent from the high school of most recent attendance.

    To receive a high school diploma through this program a student must pass (1) the state graduation exam; (2) an examination for a GED; (3) an exam equivalent to the graduation examination or (4) an examination that demonstrates the student is ready for college level work. Students must also complete the coursework necessary to meet: (1) the minimum high school course requirements established by the state board; and (2) the requirements of the participating state higher educational institution.

    Upon completion of the program, individuals are awarded a high school diploma that states the name of the educational institution where they earned the diploma.
    Kentucky Yes, the Kentucky Virtual High School offers a nine-week credit recovery program. The flexibility of online courses allows students to focus on the content not yet mastered and is easily adapted to local school policies for credit recovery.

    Louisiana Yes, 2006 legislation directs the state board and the board of supervisors of community and technical colleges to establish a means for schools to award postsecondary technical college credit and high school credit for units taken at either a community college, technical college or high school. Encouraging the participation of students who appear to be likely dropouts is a goal and main focus of partnerships between local boards and community and technical colleges.

    The state board is directed, during the 2007-08 school year, to select at least two partnerships to undertake sharing at least 10% of potential dropouts identified by a local board and providing for their dual enrollment. Participating schools and institutions are required to report the effect of the implementation on students and difficulties encountered during the partnership. Based on information gathered during the pilot year, the board is authorized to extend the pilot and increase the number of partnerships for a second school year, or scale dual enrollment partnerships up to include any number of partnerships that appear viable and supportable.
    Maryland None identified
    Michigan None identified
    Minnesota Yes, the graduation incentives program is designed to allow students who have experienced or are experiencing difficulty in the traditional education system to enroll in alternative programs.

    Eligible students include those under 21 who:
  • Perform substantially below the performance level for pupils of the same age in a locally determined achievement test.
  • Are at least one year behind in satisfactorily completing coursework or obtaining credits for graduation.
  • Have been excluded or expelled from school.
  • Have withdrawn from school or have been chronically truant.

  • Eligible programs that students may enroll in include area learning centers which grant diplomas to students successfully completing a program. Additionally, eligible students may enroll in postsecondary courses under the state's postsecondary enrollment options act. Students enrolling in postsecondary courses under this program must indicate whether credits earned will count as postsecondary credit, or as high school credits counting toward a high school diploma.
    Mississippi None identified
    Nevada Yes, districts are authorized to offer alternative programs for at-risk youth that include the opportunity for these students to earn a standard high school diploma. These programs may provide for flexible scheduling, the opportunity for students to gain academic credit through work experience or distance education delivery.

    The state's distance education laws explicitly address drop-out prevention and recovery. Distance education courses are designed for pupils who are participating in a program for students at risk of dropping out of high school. One category of eligibility for participation in distance education courses is that students are participating in a program for pupils at risk of dropping out of high school. (Additional student categories are also eligible for participation in distance education courses.)

    Additionally, 2007 legislation requires districts to adopt policies that would allow for a student to be placed on academic probation and to earn credits required for high school while they are still completing the requirements for promotion to high school.
    New Hampshire Yes, state provides for a dropout prevention and recovery grant program. Eligible applicants are community-based organizations, school districts and private organizations. Among program requirements, applicants must provide: (1) services designed to assist pupils in the successful completion of high school; (2) tutoring, study skills training and instruction leading to successful completion of secondary school, including dropout prevention strategies through a school-site mentor; and (3) alternative secondary school services with high academic standards. Programs must establish an 85% graduation rate and a 90% return to school rate for students most likely to drop out as performance goals for program participants.
    New Jersey None identified
    New York None identified.
    North Carolina None identified
    Ohio Yes, students in a dropout prevention and recovery program may graduate from high school by completing a competency-based instructional program instead of the Ohio core curriculum. (The Ohio core curriculum will become the default graduation requirements for all students starting with the class of 2014.)

    Waivers may only be granted by the department of education if the program:
  • Serves only students between the ages of 16-21.
  • Enrolls students who are at least one grade level behind or experience crises that significantly interfere with their academic progress such that they are prevented from continuing their traditional programs.
  • Requires students to attain at least the applicable score designated for each portion of the Ohio graduation test.
  • Develops an individual career plan for the student that specifies the student's matriculating to a two-year degree program, acquiring a business and industry credential or entering an apprenticeship.
  • Provides counseling and support related to the individual career plan during the remainder of the student's high school experience.
  • Requires the student and the student's parent to sign and file a written statement asserting the parent's consent to the student's graduating without completing the Ohio core curriculum and acknowledging that one consequence of not completing the Ohio core curriculum is ineligibility to enroll in most state universities in Ohio without further coursework.
  • Prior to receiving the waiver, the program has submitted to the department an instructional plan that demonstrates how the state academic content standards will be taught and assessed.
  • Oklahoma None identified
    Oregon Yes, the Expanded Options Program (EOP) allows students to earn dual high school and college credit. School districts must identify and notify all at-risk students and their parents about the EOP. It is a priority for school districts to provide information about the EOP to high school students who have dropped out of school.
    Pennsylvania Yes, Successful Students’ Partnership is a statewide dropout prevention initiative. Districts apply for funds to operate dropout prevention and recovery programs. Funds are granted for three years and the districts receiving the funds provide information on the practices which were most effective in dropout prevention and the approaches which were successful in outreach/recovery efforts.
    Rhode Island None identified
    South Carolina Yes, all high schools are required to implement at least one model program for at-risk youth, which must provide students with the opportunity to graduate with a standard high school diploma. The Education and Economic Development Coordinating Council At-Risk Student Committee has developed an implementation guide that identifies approved evidence-based models, initiatives and programs. The guide was distributed to all elementary, middle and high school principals. In 2007, $4.3 million was allocated to help schools implement approved programs.

    Additionally, the South Carolina Student Loan Corporation has donated $3 million to improve student academic programs for the state’s 16 Palmetto Priority Schools. The funds will be used to establish a Star Academy program at each school to work with overage students who are at-risk of dropping out. Star Academies function as a school-within-a-school and take students through an accelerated, rigorous course of study that enables them to complete 8th and 9th grade in one school year.
    Tennessee None identified
    Texas Yes, policy makes provisions for an optional school day program for high school students who: (1) are dropouts or at-risk of dropping out or (2) attend a campus that is implementing an innovative redesign or early college plan. The program allows districts flexibility in the delivery of the instructional program in terms of the numbers of hours a student attends school each day or the number of days a week a student attends. Students would also be allowed to enroll for less than a full course load. Attendance accounting would allow for accumulations of instructional time to earn state funding. The commissioner has rulemaking authority for the program.

    Additionally, 2007 legislation permits students between 21 and 26 to be eligible for funding under the foundation school program for the purposes of completing the requirements for a high school diploma. Eligible students may enroll in high schools to fulfill the requirements of a high school diploma, and districts receive funding for serving these students. Districts are responsible for keeping students over 21 years old who have not attended school in the three preceding school years separated from students 18 and younger.
    Utah None identified
    Virginia None identified
    Washington Yes, community college high school diploma programs enable students to earn a high school diploma without attending a high school. Programs of study are determined through evaluation of a student's previous educational records. For students over 18 years old, evaluative testing may also be used to determine the student's educational level.

    Students over the age of 18 can earn a high school diploma by satisfying minimum course requirements through one or more of the following methods:
  • Actual completion of courses regularly conducted in high school.
  • Taking courses at a technical college.
  • Taking courses at a community college.
  • Approved correspondence or extension courses.
  • Supervised independent study.
  • Testing in specific subject areas.
  • West Virginia None identified
    Wisconsin None identified

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