The Urban Review

, Volume 51, Issue 5, pp 699–723 | Cite as

The Impact of Race, Gender, and Socioeconomic Status on School Counselors’ Alternative Learning Program Placement Decisions: An Experimental Study

  • Merry Leigh DameronEmail author
  • Sejal Parikh Foxx
  • Claudia Flowers


As a form of exclusionary discipline, student placement into an alternative learning program (ALP) may lead to negative outcomes for students (e.g., lower academic achievement, attrition, involvement in the juvenile justice system; Anderson and Ritter in Educ Policy Anal Arch 25(49):1–33, 2017). School counselors are called to address inequitable policies, procedures, and conditions that may limit students’ personal/social and academic development, college access, and career readiness (ASCA, The ASCA national model: a framework for school counseling programs, 3rd edn. American School Counselor Association, Alexandria, VA, 2012). Additionally, school counselors should be unbiased in their decision-making (ASCA, Ethical standards for school counselors. American School Counselor Association, Alexandria, VA, 2016). The researchers utilized a true experimental design to examine the impact of student race (African American or White), gender (male or female), and socioeconomic status (SES; economically advantaged or disadvantaged) on practicing school counselors’ (N = 334) decisions to place students in ALPs for disciplinary reasons. A factorial analysis of variance revealed no statistically significant differences in school counselors’ likelihood of placing students in ALPs for disciplinary reasons based these student demographic factors. The study also revealed a statistically significant positive relationship between school counselors’ belief in a just world, as measured by the Global Belief in a Just World Scale (GBJWS; Lipkus in Personal Individ Differ, 12(11): 1171–1178., 1991), and likelihood of referring students to ALPs for disciplinary reasons. Implications for school counselors and educational stakeholders are discussed.


School counseling Discipline disproportionality Alternative education School discipline Belief in a just world Advocacy 



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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of CounselingCarson-Newman UniversityJefferson CityUSA
  2. 2.Department of CounselingThe University of North Carolina at CharlotteCharlotteUSA
  3. 3.Department of Educational LeadershipThe University of North Carolina at CharlotteCharlotteUSA

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