Alternative Public School Models

  • David J. Shernoff
Part of the Advancing Responsible Adolescent Development book series (ARAD)


Because private schools have superior resources, examples of highly engaging alternative or nontraditional public schools, presented in this chapter, are particularly important. In this chapter, we present three models of alternative public high schools that research has shown to be engaging: The Murray High School in Charlottesville, Virginia (a Glasser Quality School); The Nova High School in Seattle, Washington; and The Mango High School (a pseudonym) in Australia. The Murray High School model is based on William Glasser’s (Choice theory: A new psychology of personal freedom. New York: Harper Perennial, 1988) choice theory. Choice theory provides a useful paradigm for considering the way in which adolescent social and academic development can be nurtured by making responsible choices having immediate consequences within their learning environment. Glasser Quality Schools like Murray intentionally design their school around supportive relationships, and provide numerous opportunities for students to improve their relationships such as mediations with teachers. The Nova High School is a nontraditional public school in Seattle that is democratically governed by students and staff, and fosters a community climate among teachers, students, and administrators. In one study, students attending the Nova High School spent a higher percentage of time in student-centered activities, and reported greater engagement, than comparable students in traditional public schools. The Mango High School in Australia illustrates that public schools can reinvent themselves by recognizing the inadequacies of a punitive educational approach and replacing it with the relational work necessary for establishing boundaries for respect. These models illustrate that positive relationships are the product of authentic learning communities, as intentionally designed into the structure of schooling.


Public School Collaborative Learning Choice Theory Mastery Goal Public High School 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • David J. Shernoff
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations College of EducationNorthern Illinois UniversityDeKalbUSA

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