From a 1994 study of district data, a committee of Rockwall ISD staff members proposed piloting an alternative educational program for academically and behaviorally at-risk middle-school students. Based on the identified need, a proposal for a new program was accepted by the Board of Trustees in the mid 1990s. A new alternative program emerged as a tiny “one-room schoolhouse” located on the campus of the district’s middle school. The focus of this small program was on identifying and implementing alternative instructional and curricular strategies that would address the needs of young potential dropouts.
From the seed of the original pilot program, the secondary-alternative school emerged and developed into what is known today as Rockwall Quest Academy (RQA). The middle-school academic pilot program evolved into today’s “Choice” program, which serves grades 9-12. It was soon after the creation of the “the original” Choice program that a GED program was founded on the alternative school campus. Today a GED Testing Center is conveniently available at Quest Academy for area residents seeking high-school equivalency diplomas.
In 1995, in an effort to address disciplinary concerns across the state, the Texas State Legislature mandated that all school districts create a Discipline Alternative Education Program (DAEP). As stated previously, the district had already created a program that focused on disciplinary issues for some middle-school students. Because of the early groundwork of the pilot program, RISD incorporated the state’s mandate by melding the requirements of a DAEP into the original disciplinary program. The district’s DAEP, serving grades 7-12, became the third program of the alternative school and joined the Choice and the GED programs. By adding a few portable classrooms to accommodate the growing number of programs and student populations, RISDs Alternative School began to flourish. In 2003, the original school received the name Rockwall Quest Academy and moved from its first location to a new building. The current location of Rockwall Quest Academy is in the Rockwall Administration /Education Center.
The charge of the district’s Rockwall Quest Academy adheres to the requirements of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) by emphasizing school success for all students. According to the National Education Agency (NEA), NCLB intends to have all students performing at a proficient level or above on state reading and math assessments by the 2013-2014 school year. Aiming to meet the NCLB goal and drawing from research, Rockwall Quest Academy supports the philosophy of providing students with a caring, nurturing, yet firm environment that emphasizes close student/teacher relationships in a challenging academic setting. Teachers at Quest, along with being certified in their content areas, make necessary connections so that they can identify where students “are” in order to lead them to “where” they need to be in the educational system and beyond.
Today’s Rockwall Quest Academy is the professional home for many extraordinary educators who focus on the needs of the school’s at-risk population. Although the enrollment numbers are misleading since they only reflect the number of Choice students enrolled on specific dates, many students find success at the district’s secondary alternative school. The slogan “We are not successful if students are not successful” can be felt as one observes the dedication of the RQA educators as they relate to their students.