The Alternative and Dropouts

Richmond Alternative School serves “students with academic, attendance and behavior challenges.”  Their Web page says they “use positive norms and positive peer pressure from the group in order to maintain a positive learning culture.”

RPS hired Community Education Partners in 2004 to run this receptacle for disruptive students.  In 2013, Richmond took the school over, saving about $2 million per year.  They now have hired Camelot Education to run it. 

The original contractor was doing a decent job, given the tough clientele. 


RPS picked a bad year to take over the school; the new math tests had lowered scores statewide in 2012 and new tests in English and science did the same thing in 2013, albeit more in Richmond.  

Alternative didn’t bounce back until the new contractor was in charge.  For instance:



There is a wrinkle in those data, however: The state and Richmond averages include the elementary school pass rates while Alternative has only the middle and high school grades.  The Alternative trends in the graphs are accurate enough but the comparison to the state and Richmond numbers is not.

If we pull the data by grade, we are hindered somewhat by the VDOE suppression rule that omits data for groups of <10 students.  Even so, there is information here:



(“EOC” is the end of courses tests that are required to obtain “verified credits” toward the graduation requirements.)

There are some details missing but the Richmond Alternative jump in 2017 is clear enough.  Either the contractor is cheating prodigiously, the dropouts are having an exceptional effect on the scores of the remaining students, or its it’s time for our School Board to admit its own incompetence and hire outsiders to run all the schools.  I lean toward that last explanation. 

In any event, something stinks here.

. . .

Maybe two somethings:  Those Richmond EOC numbers are suspiciously high.  Time for some more digging.