Experts regard removing a student from their general education as a last resort measure. When students are removed from the general education classroom for even a short period of time, they lose instructional time, which may negatively impact the student’s academic achievement. Being removed from their classroom on a more permanent basis may cause students to feel isolated and less engaged, and overall feel less positively about school and their education.
While research is clear that students should be kept in the general classroom as much as possible, alternative options are a necessity for some students. Some students need more attention than traditional classrooms provide, and others might exhibit violent and destructive behavior that creates a distressing negative classroom environment for all students. As such, some students may need to be removed from the general education classroom and placed in a program for severe behavior or an alternative school.
Unfortunately, while these programs are touted as opportunities for students who need additional support, the expectations about these programs often do not match reality. Students from historically underserved groups are disproportionately sent to these programs, with teachers and counselors referring minority students to these programs at higher rates than white students.
To give students the support they need without unnecessarily removing them from the general classroom, alternative programs and programs for severe behavior should only be used as a last resort, with a full understanding of the gravity of the decision to refer a student and with the most stringent, clear, and unbiased guidelines possible.
Download the full report to uncover more insights on programs for severe behavior.