The affect [i.e. effect] of high school disciplinary alternative education programs on students with long-term multiple referrals
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Public school districts in Texas are required by law to operate alternative school programs for children who commit discipline infractions in violation of state law or local policy; the programs are called “disciplinary alternative education programs” or “DAEP” schools. The prevailing question driving this study was whether children who spend significant periods of time in DAEP schools are affected differently by their educational experience than the general population of students, who spend little or no time in the schools. This research is guided by the assumption that students who are assigned to DAEP facilities for greater numbers of days will be affected more than students who spend less time in the facilities. The primary findings from the study indicate that the alternative school has a different impact on the students enrolled, depending on their social and cultural characteristics. This study identifies three distinct groups of students who matriculate in the DAEP program. The study further describes how the students function and perform in the setting, from the perspective of both students and faculty. The alternative school has an immediate impact on some students, who have good educational values when they come to the campus. They perceive their entire tenure as punishment, and they know from the beginning that they will do whatever is possible to avoid getting repeat referrals. The school has no impact at all on another group of students. These students are extremely obstinate and frequently commit disciplinary infractions while at the alternative school that lead to more serious consequences. There is a third group of students for whom the alternative school has a substantial impact, which affects the goals they set for themselves and their educational values. These students develop a sense of belonging at the alternative school, and some students said they would have dropped out, if they were still attending school at their regular campus. Regrettably, this positive impact is contrary to the goals at the alternative school, which are to deter kids from committing subsequent infractions, and equip them to be successful on their regular campus. The study has revealed that no single policy or program can address the various social, cultural and academic needs of all the students attending the DAEP. The best approach to developing DAEP programs and policies is to use a model that accounts for the differences in social, cultural and academic characteristics of the students attending.