A Study of Alternatives in American Education

Vol. VII, Conclusions and Policy Implications

by Lynn Doscher

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Summarizes the background and conclusions of a six-volume RAND study of educational alternatives at Alum Rock and three other sites, drawing implications for federal and local policies. The conclusions describe interaction between educational-alternative programs and (1) district policies, (2) the principal's role, (3) teacher responses, (4) family choice, (5) educational diversity, and (6) student outcomes. They imply that federal leadership is neither essential nor sufficient to establish diversity and choice in local education. Unless districts need educational changes and have community support for them, alternative programs will not prosper. Alternative programs generate heavy, extra workloads for staff and may generate controversy. Thus, districts must carefully weigh the need, costs, and benefits when considering them and must make implemented programs a formal part of the district structure. The federal government could best encourage innovation by supporting districts whose plans indicate careful examination of needs and a commitment to educational change and improvement

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