Who Attends Outreach?
Students from a wide variety of educational backgrounds choose to attend Outreach schools; most are considered at-risk students, meaning they are at risk of not graduating or of leaving school without an acceptable level of basic skills (Brown, 2000). There are a wide variety of reasons that students may be at risk, including mental health or behavioral issues, substance abuse, homelessness, full-time employment, or adolescent pregnancy (Lagana-Riordan et al., 2011). Outreach students are a diverse group that have typically experienced minimal success and many see themselves as “misunderstood and unfairly treated” (Housego, 1999, p.85). Some students may be attempting to complete high school while working part-time or full-time, or want to work at their own pace while other students prefer to avoid traditional schools for social reasons (Housego, 1999, p.85). A large percentage of at-risk students have either a learning or behavioural disability and Lange (1998) suggests that looking for more innovative ways to teach will help address individual student learning needs. When looking at the variety of circumstances and situations students are coming from, the measuring of student success in an Outreach school will vary on a student by student case but could include measurements of course completions, academic achievements, attendance, engagement and graduation rates. The studies referred to in this paper most commonly use academic achievement and graduation rates as the measures of student success.