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The current study grows out of earlier research–conducted by one of us (with a collaborator) and published in book form in 2006–on the following problem: In many public programs that seek to improve social conditions and increase opportunity for low-income people, a relatively small number of participants, whom the study termed "bad apples," so severely disrupt those programs that they prevent the rest of the participants from gaining the programs' full benefits. The public school system is the most important venue in which the bad apples problem occurs, and the current study seeks to increase our understanding of how the system tries to manage this problem.

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