To download dissertations and theses, please click on the appropriate "Download" button for your campus to log in and be e-verified. When you reach the "Sign into your JWU email" page, enter your JWU username and password.

Non-JWU users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this dissertation through interlibrary loan.

Applying research -based criteria to Rhode Island's public alternative schools and programs

Paul Scott Haughey, Johnson & Wales University


Alternative education programs (AEPs) have been operating in public schools for over thirty years, and there is considerable research testifying to their effectiveness. As a result of these long standing programs, the literature and research identifies criteria for exemplary alternative schools/programs. The purpose of this study was to identify the essential criteria for exemplary alternative education in public school settings via the literature and research findings, and the barriers that prevent the criteria from being fully addressed by the educational leaders of these schools/programs. Multiple case study methods were employed to conduct the research. Individual interviews were the primary data collection methodology. The coding of qualitative data and other appropriate analysis techniques, including the use of QSR N5 software, were conducted simultaneously with the data collection, interpretation, and the writing of the research report. The process of reduction and interpretation was used to identify themes, categories, and patterns from the data collected. From the review of related literature and research, three essential criteria of exemplary alternative education emerged: (1) positive school climate; (2) customized curriculum and instruction; (3) personal, social and emotional growth. Sub-categories of each criterion emerged. The data was then compared to the research. From this comparison, agreements, conflicts, and gaps were identified. The strongest agreement between the data and the research related to positive school climate emphasizing the importance of a caring, demanding, and well-prepared teacher. The strongest conflict between the data and the research existed in the area of personal, social, and emotional growth and the best praxis necessary to promote and develop citizenry. The gap which raised the greatest amount of concern was evident in the customized curriculum and instruction criterion. John Kellmayer (1995a) emphasizes Bloom's taxonomy in curriculum development because of a failure to emphasize higher order thinking skills. In addition, the development of affective skills is often overlooked in alternative school curricula (p. 79). This gap needs to be addressed in subsequent research of public school-based alternative education. Findings, summaries, conclusions and recommendations from this study are to be made to the Rhode Island Department of Education, a major client of this research.

Subject Area

School administration|Secondary education

Recommended Citation

Haughey, Paul Scott, "Applying research -based criteria to Rhode Island's public alternative schools and programs" (2002). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI3042727.