Alternative Educational Programs: Accommodating
Tertiary Level, At-Risk Students

Tary J. Tobin
Jeffrey R. Sprague
University of Oregon


In this chapter, ideas from descriptive literature and findings from recent studies are organized in response to four major questions:

What is known about alternative programs for very at-risk students, some of who are committing delinquent acts?
What are best practices for keeping these students engaged in schooling?
What are best practices for meeting their complex needs?
What are the essential features of proven programs for these students at elementary and middle school levels respectively?

Before these questions are addressed, search strategies are explained, terms defined, the need for alternative programs described, and concerns about alternative programs discussed.

Search Strategies

Information was located by searches of electronic databases (e.g., ERIC, PsychINFO) using variations on, and combinations of, terms such as "alternative education, at-risk, antisocial, delinquency, dropout, expulsion, placement, prevention, school-based intervention, suspension." Hand searches of recent issues of journals that report studies related to behavior disorders and/or school-based interventions were conducted (e.g., Behavioral Disorders, Career Development for Exceptional Children, Child and Family Behavior Therapy, Exceptional Children, Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, Journal of School Psychology, Proven Practice, Psychology in the Schools, School Psychology Review). Abstracts and/or introductions were read to determine if the material addressed the research questions listed above and, if so, which question was addressed most fully. Additional sources were identified from references of selected articles.