sealPurdue News

July 1997

Dean: Education reform should follow alternative schools' lead

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- The dean of Purdue University's School of Education says successful alternative schools are an excellent example for education reform to follow.

"Alternative schools developed out of the need to educate a growing number of children who have dropped out of regular schools or are in our juvenile court systems, but many of the methods that are working for at-risk youths can and should be applied in traditional school settings," says Marilyn Haring, who is also a professor of counseling and development at Purdue.

Haring has identified several characteristics of successful alternative schools that already are meeting the goals of educational reform.

"These schools have placed increased emphasis on experiential learning," Haring explains. "The students in alternative schools are more engaged as active learners, so they find schooling much more relevant."

Another characteristic Haring noted is extraordinarily caring teachers who involve themselves very closely with their students. Haring further says that instruction in alternative schools is typically innovative and varied, and the teachers in these successful schools are skilled at individualized teaching methods in order to meet the widely varying needs of their students.

"These are precisely the characteristics we need to adopt in all of our schools if we are going to transform them into effective institutions," Haring says. "I believe we can address the needs of at-risk youths and facilitate educational reform for all students by developing alternative programs rather than separate schools. By incorporating the best features of alternative schools into the traditional schooling designed for most students, everyone wins."
CONTACT: Haring, (765) 494-2336; e-mail,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; e-mail,

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