Alternative Schools Have Much to Teach: Michelle Fine and Mica Baum-Tuccillo on The Thought Project

January 29, 2021

Fine, a professor of psychology and urban education, and Baum-Tucillo, a Ph.D. psychology Ph.D. student, discuss the findings of a new study of New York City’s beleaguered transfer schools, by the Public Science Project.

 

The Graduate Center, CUNY · Alternative Schools Have Much to Teach: Michelle Fine and Mica Baum-Tuccillo on The Thought Project

New York City’s 55 transfer schools serve over 13,000 high school–aged students who have dropped out of or stopped attending their traditional high schools. Operating with constrained budgets and under the constant threat of closure, these schools, sometimes referred to as alternative high schools, nonetheless can transform the lives of the students they serve in large and small ways, according to a new study by Graduate Center, CUNY researchers.

Two of the study’s authors, Graduate Center Professor Michelle Fine and Ph.D. student Mica Baum-Tuccillo, join The Thought Project to discuss their findings.

Fine, a veteran social policy researcher and co-founder of the Public Science Project, which produced the study, admits that even she was surprised to find that “these schools were filled with care, but that wasn’t instead of academic expectations, it was a prerequisite.”

Baum-Tucillo is a transfer school success story, having graduated from one and returning to teach at that same school.

Fine and Baum-Tucillo elaborate on the report’s top recommendations. Among them is that requiring a 67 percent graduation rate, based on high-stakes tests, is misguided and that more holistic and tailored assessments should be established. The report, “And Still They Rise: Lessons from Students in New York City's Alternative Transfer High Schools,” is publicly available.

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