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Public Policy and Administration
Inconsistent findings within the existing literature tend to confuse the ability of behavior-focused alternative schools to address behavior problems of at-risk juveniles. Recent studies have suggested that juveniles who successfully commit to greater self-regulation skills display both academic success and positive classroom behavior. Although self-regulation skills have been positively associated with behavioral success among juveniles placed in behavior-focused alternative schools, it remains unclear as to what aspects of these programs that juveniles experience as facilitating the development of such skills. This phenomenological study used semistructured interviews of 5 students in Grades 10 through 12 enrolled in a behavior-focused alternative school to improve the understanding of how juveniles experience and perceive alternative school programs as facilitating the development of self-regulation skills in promotion of positive behavior outcomes. Structural functionalist theory provided an appropriate lens through which data of juvenile experiences and perceptions of the functions of an alternative school program could be interpreted. Data analysis consisted of a process of open coding, categorizing, and interpreting data for meaning. The findings of the current study revealed that when aspects of alternative schools function to develop reasoning skills and a willingness to adhere to school standards, such functions may be beneficial in juvenile commitment to behavioral self-regulation. The data provided by this study may be valuable for stakeholders and policymakers in assessing the influence of behavior-focused alternative schools.