Non-college-bound youth and others who for a variety of reasons have not done well in traditional public schools have been turning to alternative education programs in record numbers in a "last best chance" to succeed academically. Despite that large growth in the numbers and types of alternative education programs, there is still no commonly accepted (or commonly understood) definition of these programs. Nor do we have a basic typology or classification of the many types of programs that are being run across the country. Drawing on a variety of sources, this paper synthesizes what is known about defining and characterizing alternative education schools and programs, and identifies a number of dimensions along which one or more typologies can be built.
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