Model Program

ACE Learning Centers

209 Rue St. Louis
Florissant, MO 63031

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Contact Information:
Mr. Sam L. Gulotta, III
Director of Marketing and Program Development

Program Specification:






Moderate Evidence of Effectiveness

Age/Grade Level:

Target Settings:

Target Groups:

Middle School
High School

Inner City

Grade Level
School Wide


Other Participation Criteria:

All Ethnicities

Our partner school districts determine participation criteria.


Since 2001 ACE Learning Centers has been helping students at risk of dropping out of school become high school graduates. ACE is dedicated to achievement, commitment, and excellence. ACE is a unique, nontraditional school that has successfully helped thousands of at-risk students graduate high school. We establish strong partnerships with school districts and collaborate with them to help students achieve their graduation goals. Caring teachers, safe campuses with a 6 to 1 student/teacher ratio,individualized student learning plans, and computer based instruction, help ACE students reach their graduation goals. ACE teachers give our students the individual support and attention they need to progress in their lessons. Our teachers value differences and help nurture our students' social, emotional, and academic growth. Students' success is measured by mastery of their learning goals. Students' must achieve at least 80% on their lessons before moving on to the next learning objective. Students that have switched from traditional time-based learning to mastery learning now are functioning at the levels of A's and B's.

Program Descriptors Include:
Academic Improvement, Alternative Education, Attendance/Truancy, Behavior Management/Discipline, Bi-lingual/ESL, Career Education, Community Collaboration, Computer Assisted Instruction, Counseling/Advisories/Coaches, Credit Recovery, Extended-School/Summer Program, Family/Parental Involvement, Literacy Development, Mentoring/Tutoring, Professional Development, Service Learning, Students with Disabilities, Study Skills, Virtual Learning, Life Skills Training

Strategies for Locating Students:
Phone calls, Home visits, Personalized letters, Newspaper ads, Television ads/radio announcements, Online videos, Website with reenrollment options, Reengagement/resource fairs, Materials distributed in public venues, Posters displayed in public places, Outreach conducted at locations/events attended by youth, Public events focused on dropout recovery, Current students asked to recruit friends, School or district teams to track students, Collaboration with other schools/districts, Collaboration with social service agencies/community-based organizations, Collaboration with law enforcement

Starting Date: 2001
Students Served Per Year: 500+
Reenrolled Students with Disabilities: 25% or more
Last Verified: 2010

Risk Factors:

Protective Factors:

Program addresses the following:

Individual factors

  • High number of work hours
  • Parenthood
  • High-risk peer group
  • High-risk social behavior
  • Highly socially active outside of school
  • Low achievement
  • Retention/overage for grade
  • Poor attendance
  • Low educational expectations
  • Lack of effort
  • Low commitment to school
  • Misbehavior

Family factors

  • Low socioeconomic status
  • High family mobility
  • Low education level of parents
  • Large number of siblings
  • Not living with both natural parents
  • Family disruption
  • Low educational expectations
  • Sibling(s) has dropped out
  • Low contact with school
  • Lack of conversations about school

School factors

  • Limited resources: expenditures per student/ teacher salaries/ student-teacher ratios
  • School size: too small/too large
  • Race/ethnicity
  • School math achievement
  • School policies and practices
  • Student engagement
  • Teacher expectations

Community factors

  • Family composition/socioeconomic status
  • Local labor market/neighborhood stability
  • Youth social attitudes

Program promotes the following:


  • Presence and involvement of caring, supportive adults
  • Opportunities and rewards for pro-social involvement
  • Clear social norms
  • Good relationships with parents, peers, and teachers
  • Involvement with positive peer activities
  • Perception of support from adults and peers


  • Healthy/conventional beliefs and standards
  • Positive/resilient temperament


  • Social competencies
  • Self efficacy


  • Problem-solving skills
  • Flexibility


  • High expectations by community, family, school, and self
  • Optimistic


  • Comprehensive diagnostic systems
  • Early warning systems
  • Personalized instruction and learning
  • Rigorous and relevant instruction
  • Academic support
  • Instruction on behavior and social skills
  • Supportive school climate
  • Development of vocational skills
  • Encourage family involvement/community supports
  • Teach self-determination and self-advocacy skills including student/person-centered planning
  • Eliminate practices that push students out of school
  • Help students to address problems that interfere with learning

Program Resources:

Annual Cost:

The annual cost range of the program is over $500,000 or over $2000 per student.

Funding Sources Include:

Program Staff Includes:

School Districts

Social Workers
Graduation Coaches
School Administrators

Materials Used:

Supporting / Partner Organizations:

Instructional Texts/Manuals
Computer/Internet Based

Mr. Mark Behlmann, President, Hazelwood Board of Education, 15955 New Halls Ferry Rd. Florissant, MO 63031 (314) 953-5000 Dr. Grayling Tobias, Assistant Superintendent Hazelwood School District, 15955 New Halls Ferry Rd. Florissant, MO 63031 (314) 953-5064 Dr. Cheryl Compton, Superintendent, Ritenour School District, 2420 Woodson Rd. St. Louis, MO 63114 (314) 493-6010 Ms. Shelly-Mills Walker, Assistant Superintendent, Ritenour School District, 2420 Woodson Rd. St. Louis, MO 63114 (314) 493-6055 Mr. Mike Fulton, Superintendent, Pattonville R-III, 11097 St. Charles Rock Rd. St. Ann, MO 63074 (314) 213-8000 Ms. Donette Green, Assistant Superintendent, Pattonville R-III, 11097 St. Charles Rock Rd. St. Anne, MO 63074 (314) 213-8090 Dr. Maureen Clancy-May, Superintendent, Bayless School District, 4530 Weber Road St. Louis, MO 63123-5798 (314) 631-2244 Dr. Dan Edwards, Assistant Superintendent, St. Louis Public Schools, 801 N. 11th St. Louis, MO 63101 (314) 565-1453 Ms. Betty Shackelford, Director of Innovative Pathways, St. Louis Public Schools 801 N. 11th St. Louis, MO 63101 (314) 345-4464 Dr. Rhonda Key/Dr. Natalie Feder-Thomas, Co-Superintendents, Riverview Gardens 1370 Northumberland St. Louis, MO 63137(314) 869-2505 Dr. Robert Mitchell, Assistant Superintendent, Riverview Gardens 1370 Northumberland St. Louis, MO 63137 (314) 869-2505 Dr. Todd White, Superintendent, North Kansas City School District, 2000 NE 46th St. Kansas City, MO 64116 (816) 413-5000 Dr. Paul Fregeau, Executive Director Educational Support Services, North Kansas City School District, 2000 NE 46th St. Kansas City, MO 64116 (816) 413 5000 Dr. Perry Hilvitz, Director of Alternative Education, North Kansas City School District, 3100 NE 46th St. Kansas City, MO 64116 (816) 413-6060

Evaluation Information:

ACE Learning Centers has been collaborating with Missouri school districts to help at risk students stay in school and graduate since 2001. Our evaluation measures are: persistence to graduation, average daily attendance, reading, language arts, math grade level improvements, and student satisfaction surveys. ACE Learning Centers has had a positive impact on our partner districts at risk students by increasing graduation rates, decreasing dropout rates, raising student achievement, and providing a safe and supportive learning climate. Since 2001 the persistence to graduation rate has averaged 88%, meaning that students beginning the school year as seniors graduated that same year. Annual average daily attendance has been 89%. On average students annually progress 1 to 5 grade levels in reading, math, and language arts. Our 2009 student surveys reported that 81% of our students look forward to coming to ACE every day, and 94% reported that "teachers provided me the help that I need." More detailed information (including graphs and surveys) can be accessed through our web site

How evaluation data was collected:
Data collected and analyzed at school/district level

Additional Evaluation Information: