|dc.description.abstract||The National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE) reported that there were 10,900 public alternative schools and programs in the United States of which 12 percent of the student population were students receiving special education services. According to the NASDSE, the educational polices in most states define alternative education as programs designed for students who are not progressing in, or adjusting adequately to, the programs in traditional schools. The types of students who are admitted to alternative programs are those who have been suspended or expelled, those at risk of failure, those who have behavior problems, and those who have been academically unsuccessful (Ahearn, 2004, p. 2).
Alternative education programs (AEPs) have existed for several decades. Research conducted by Dugger and Dugger (1998), Katsiyannis and Williams (1998), Kochhar-Bryant and Lacey (2005), Lange and Lehr (1999), Lange and Sletten (2002), Lehr (2005), Powell (2003), Raywid (1994), Rutherford and Quinn (1999), and Young (1990) suggests that AEPs may be the most viable educational option for students with disabilities who are at risk of school failure in a traditional school setting. However, Ahearn (2004) and Lange and Sletten (2002) noted that there is limited research documenting the effects of alternative education programs on students with disabilities.
The purpose of this research was to identify procedures and services that would enable students with specific learning disabilities and students with emotional behavioral disorders enrolled in Georgia’s AEPs to successfully transition to their traditional school and complete high school. A mixed-methodology research design was used in this study. The participants for this study included principals of Georgia’s alternative education programs and Georgia Department of Education administrators. From the study, six key findings emerged as procedures or services needed or not needed to facilitate a successful transition: student involvement in governance, mentoring programs, childcare programs, rite of passage programs, a sense of belonging, and family outreach strategies. This research also identified educational strategies that may improve the academic progress, discipline, instruction, and graduation rate for students with disabilities.||en_US