Student attachment levels in a disciplinary alternative education program compared with an alternative education program and its correlation towards later-life crime
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This study looked at the link between life-course crime and attachment levels in schools. The correlation between high attachment levels and lower adult criminal activity was first explained. Once this correlation was understood, attachment levels in alternative schools were studied. There are two main types of alternative schools: AEPs (Alternative Education Programs) and DAEPs (Disciplinary Alternative Education Programs). AEPs are often self-selected, meaning that the students have to apply and are usually not assigned; they are often long term. The DAEPs are set up by school districts to serve students who commit specific disciplinary or criminal offenses; the students are usually assigned at the DAEP for a short period of time, ranging from one day to six months. This study looked at whether one type of program yields higher attachment levels than the other. One school of each type was surveyed in the central Texas area. The AEP had 261 participants in the survey; the DAEP had 102. The students ranged from 6th to 12th grade. A teacher focus group at the DAEP was also given a survey, as well as a postsurvey questionnaire. The purpose of the teacher focus group was to see if the teacher perception of student attachment was accurate, and if they felt that anything needed to be changed at their school to yield higher attachment levels. The student and teacher surveys were analyzed using SPSS. The results showed that the AEP is more successful than the DAEP at attaining higher attachment levels. The AEP students are happier with their school and like their teachers more than do the students at the DAEP. The focus group illustrated that the teachers at the DAEP perceived that their students were happier than they really were. The focus group also showed that the teachers enjoyed working at their school and wanted to help the at-risk students, but did not want students to like it at the DAEP because they did not want the students to return. However, the teachers felt that success of their program was based on the rate of recidivism not on attachment levels.