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A portrait of a unique alternative education high school program

Shari L Koch, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The Accelere Program is an alternative education program created by the Omaha Public Schools (OPS), a large urban school district in the Midwest, as a dropout prevention strategy to serve students ages 17-21. In the 2012-13 school year, the program supported 160 students to graduation, most of whom were significantly over-age and under-credited, and by statistical indicators unlikely to graduate from high school. As of this writing, Accelere is in its fifth year, and demand for the program has substantially outstripped capacity, as capacity is approximately 150, and the waiting list exceeds 300 students. An OPS Alternative Education Review Committee has recommended replication of the program in order to serve additional students. Given this evidence of the program as an interesting case, this study seeks to provide an in-depth qualitative portrait of the Accelere Program intended to document the program as it has been developed and implemented, and as it is perceived and experienced by participants. Such a depiction should help give information about successes and pitfalls that seem to come with various decision strategies related to this effort. Although Accelere could be described as a design research project (Fishman, et al., 2013) and a depiction of it could be called an ethnography or case study (Creswell, 1998), the best-fitting label for this study is portraiture, a genre developed by Lawrence-Lightfoot (1983) and used by national and international authors (e.g., Duke [2008], Grant [1988], and Vandeyar and Jansen [2008]. This study is conducted by the founder of the Accelere Program who is also the current Program Director. As the author of the study is intimately familiar with the development of the program and the setting itself, this unique perspective provides a depth of insight into the multifaceted program effort which is unparalleled in comparison to that which another researcher could seek (Toma, 2000). Yet, the author acknowledges her concomitant interested perspective and care is taken to include the perspectives of multiple participants, to verify data, and to seek a balanced perspective and thorough description of the Accelere Program.

Subject Area

Secondary education

Recommended Citation

Koch, Shari L, "A portrait of a unique alternative education high school program" (2014). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3632225.