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Teaching Youth With Disabilities in Alternative and Correctional Settings

NCJ Number
Journal of Correctional Education Volume: 50 Issue: 3 Dated: September 1999 Pages: 84-89
Gil Guerin; Lou Denti
Date Published
September 1999
6 pages
An estimated 42 to 60 percent of youth in alternative educational settings have physical, emotional, or learning disabilities; equally striking is the large proportion of youth who are poor, minority, and bilingual.
The unique teacher skills required in alternative programs include the ability to optimize alternative environments and cultures, improve literacy and transition outcomes, achieve behavioral growth, and understand multicultural and multilingual issues. Good teaching practices cluster around four themes: classroom climate, teaching methods and curriculum, parent involvement, and instructional features. Few teacher preparation programs provide the range of skills and experiences needed to teach in alternative educational programs. Therefore, it is important to identify students with disabilities in alternative education settings and employ instructional and social practices that promote student and teacher success. A problem closely associated with alternative education is the problem of school dropouts. Researchers and practitioners believe alternative school programs with the following four features have the highest retention rates: (1) intensive instruction in reading and mathematics; (2) explicit instruction in survival skills; (3) successful completion of courses required for graduation; and (4) explicit planning for life after high school. Challenges and rewards associated with teaching in alternative school settings are discussed. 41 references and 1 table