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Interim Alternative Settings: Questions and Answers

How does a student qualify for an interim alternative education setting (IAES)?

Enrollment is usually required in alternative education programs designed to remove students who have antisocial or violent behavior, in part to keep expelled and frequently suspended youth off the streets.   A student’s IEP team has the responsibility of defining the nature of the specific IAES that the student will be assigned.

What is alternative education?

Refers to non-traditional educational services, ranging from separate schools for students who have been expelled to unique classes offered in a general education school building.

What should be offered in an IAES?

1. Low ratio of students to teachers

2. Highly structured classroom with behavioral classroom management

    - Level systems provide predictable structure

    - Self-management skills are taught

    - High rates of positive reinforcement

    - High academic gains

    - Students are able to move to less restrictive settings

3. Positive rather than punitive emphasis in behavior management

4. Adult mentors at school

5. Individualized behavioral interventions based on functional behavioral assessments

    - Identify causes of the behavior

    - Identify what is “keeping it going”

    - Identify positive behaviors to replace problems

    - Interview and involve the student

    - Use multi-component interventions

6. Social Skills instruction

    - Problem solving

    - Conflict resolution

    - Anger management

    - Empathy for others

7. High-quality academic instruction

    - Direct instruction plus learning strategies

    - Control for difficulty of instruction

    - Small, interactive groups

    - Directed responses and questioning of students

8. Involving parents

   - Frequent home-school communication

   - Parent education programs, provided either at school or in the community


What types of Alternative Programs exist?

  • Traditional Alternative Programs

These typically are programs that have been run by many schools-often for a long period of time-and are designed primarily to serve students who have dropped out, are considering dropping out, or are at risk of dropping out of school.   Some programs primarily for high school-aged students, also serve students who are pregnant or have a history of drug or alcohol abuse.  Often, the students in these programs are, for various reasons, highly motivated to complete their high school education through completion of either the high school diploma or a general equivalence program.

  • School-Within-School Programs

These programs are offered for students who are not successful-academically or socially-within the typical school environment are offered most typically in middle and high school.   These programs tend to reflect a more structured school environment tailored to the academic needs of struggling students.

3.   Discipline Schools or Programs

These programs have been created for students without disabilities who are suspended long term or expelled.  Participation in these programs are typically voluntary and depends on the initiative of students and parents.

4.    Specialized Special Education Programs

Many school districts have self-contained special education programs, some within schools and others located in separate facilities.  Districts that do not have their own programs access these types of programs through contracted arrangements.  In either case, the intent is to provide students with more intense and structured programs than can be provided in less self-contained settings.  In contrast to the first two programs discussed, student participation

What if my district does not make these services available?

- Interim alternative educational settings may be able to have a more individualized approach.   Here are some suggestions:

 - Academic instruction provided by a visiting teacher in a site such as a library or public building.

 - Assignment of an adult mentor to meet with the student and to supervise the student on a variety of out-of-school field trips.

 - Assignment to a work experience site in the community, with an on-site adult supervisor and a school staff member who supervises the overall work experience setting.

 - Participation in a therapy group.

A student who has been at an interim alternative educational placement is coming back to my class, what should I do?

When a student is returning to his/her school, it is recommended that a meeting should be held before the student returns and should include a representative from the alternative setting.

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