Degree Name

Education Specialist (EdS)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Larry Janes


This qualitative study developed a model for an alternative education program for disruptive students in grades 6 through 8 in Franklin and Williamson Counties in Southern Illinois. It was facilitated by the issuance of grant funds to the Regional Offices of Education by the Illinois State Board of Education under the Safe Schools Act of 1995.

The desire of the researcher was to develop a program that would lead to changes in behaviors, promote academic achievement, and return students to the regular school environment with fewer incidents of misbehavior. The outcomes of this qualitative study resulted in a comprehensive resource document that could be used in replicating the program. The objectives of this study included the development of four vital parts of the program: a philosophical statement, a program description, policies and procedures for implementation, and some instruments for evaluating student performance and stakeholder satisfaction with the program.

The first objective was the development of a formal, written philosophical statement that defined what is valued, the nature of the youth who participate, the nature of the staff, and the relationship between staff and students. This statement became the foundation for the design of other aspects of the program including the program description and the behavior management system.

The second objective of the study resulted in a comprehensive description of the program design as it related to eligibility criteria, admissions and release, instruction, staffing, and program objectives. The program's objectives addressed five key variables: (a) variety of learning styles and intelligences, (b) school attendance and behavior, (c) behavior management training focusing on anger and aggression control, (d) encouragement of service learning participation, and (e) positive interactions between adults and students. A design for documenting the individualized planning for each student also resulted from the development of the procedures.

The fourth objective developed general policies for guiding the development of the program's procedures and activities. These policies focused primarily on discipline-related issues while the procedures section was developed to assist in the day-to-day implementation of the program and administration of the policies. Student dress, expectations for behavior, use of facilities, and conduct on the bus were among the issues addressed. However, the highlight of the section is the plan for a levels system that moves the students through the program from very directed behavior to self-managed behavior. Movement through the levels is determined by the student's ability and readiness to accept increased responsibilities. The highest level signifies the student's transfer of knowledge of behavioral and social skills to demonstration and exhibition of those skills. The skills are taught in daily group interaction sessions called Aggression Replacement Training using a four-part curriculum that teaches students through participation and practice. This curriculum includes empathy training, anger control training, social skills development, and personal responsibility education.

The fourth objective was to develop a method for evaluation. This objective produced forms that could be used for tracking daily behavior and assessing students' and other stakeholders' satisfaction with the program and perceptions of its effectiveness. An instrument was also developed for use in gathering data about the student's behavior following completion of the program.