Breaking the Mold

By Shannon Flumerfelt and Eric Follo

Many districts offer alternative programs for students who are not successful in a traditionalhigh school, but they provide
no comparable alternatives for able students. Comprehensive high schools may meet the needs of many high achievers, but some will be even more successful in an educational setting that meets their needs and aspirations.

Three such public schools can be found in Oakland County, Mich. These schools represent a variety of pedagogy styles, governance structures, and funding sources. They use a variety of admissions criteria, including lotteries, interviews, test scores, and self-selection. But all three schools provide specialized settings that match students? learning interests and styles, and all three recognize students? desires and inclinations and enrich the academic programming available to them.

We were involved in developing two of these schools and offer the following brief profiles as possible models for districts that are interested in providing alternative programs for their able students. The profiles are structured around a series of questions about the schools? purpose and culture: 

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