Continuation Education, an educational option for students since 1919, is a high school diploma program designed to meet the needs of students aged sixteen and older who have not graduated from high school, are not exempt from compulsory school attendance, and deemed at risk of not completing their schooling. Students enrolled in continuation education programs are often credit deficient. Others need a flexible educational environment because they are employed or engaged in family obligations.
For apportionment purposes, minimum attendance is 15 hours per week or 180 minutes per day. However, many continuation high schools provide full day programs that exceed the minimum daily requirement. In addition to the required academic courses for graduation, the program of instruction emphasizes occupational or career orientation or a work-study schedule and intensive guidance and counseling. Supplemental programs and services may include, but not be limited to, independent study, regional occupation programs, career counseling, concurrent enrollment in community college and/or adult education, and job placement and apprenticeships.
Outcomes include dropout prevention, recovery of out-of-school youth, increased student retention, increased graduation rates for students at risk of failure of completing high school, learning gains for students that are significantly behind in credits, educational services and support for foster youth, diversion from the criminal justice system, support for pregnant and parenting students, and other services that derive from a supportive educational environment.
Funding for Continuation Education was included in the Pupil Retention Block Grant, a state-funded categorical program that was discontinued as of the 2013-14 fiscal year and now part of the Local Control Funding Formula.
Educational services vary widely depending on the resources that each local education agency (LEA) dedicates to the continuation high school. For example, Model Continuation High Schools are typically supported by adequate resources from their districts and are Western Association of Schools and Colleges accredited with small class sizes, individualized learning plans, intensive guidance, strong parent involvement, enrichment programs, expectations of high academic performance, and attendant student outcomes including graduation and advancement to postsecondary education and meaningful careers. When LEAs devote few resources, continuation high school students suffer from the lack of quality educational services and may drop out of school.