Alternative Education Strategies:
Reducing Violence in School and the Community

Tary Tobin, Ph.D.
Jeffrey Sprague, Ph.D.

The University of Oregon
Institute on Violence and Destructive Behavior


Alternative education programs are expanding in the United States due to zero tolerance policies, changes in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), increases in youth violence and school failure, and knowledge of the developmental trajectories leading to antisocial behavior. At the same time, there is little research evidence of the efficacy of these programs due to great diversity in approach, populations served, and location of the program. In this article we provide a review of teaching strategies expected to be effective in alternative education programs for students who are at risk for school failure, dropout, delinquency, and violence. We discuss the need for alternative educational programs for students in both special and general education, describe research-based and recommended alternative education strategies, and offer suggestions for program development.