Behavioral Disorders: Identification, Assessment, and Instruction of Students with EBD: Volume 22

Cover of Behavioral Disorders: Identification, Assessment, and Instruction of Students with EBD

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(16 chapters)
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Behavioral Disorders are divided into two volumes; Volume 22, Identification, Assessment and Instruction of Students with EBD, and Volume 23, Practice Concerns and Students with EBD. Since the beginning of the field of emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD), professionals have argued and debated about what society accepts as normal emotional and behavioral developmental patterns of children and youth in school environments. This situation has led to many approaches concerned with the identification, assessment, instruction, and clinical practices applied to students with EBD. Unfortunately, some of these approaches were unwarranted, inappropriate, misguided, misinterpreted, over generalized, unneeded, and lacking in fidelity of treatment. In addition, some of the approaches did not take into consideration how treatment and instruction needs to be modified as society changes in regard to opinions, beliefs, and knowledge base information about children and youth with EBD. Positively, special education EBD professionals have gravitated toward the utilization of scientific and research based analysis to evaluate past and current approaches. Such an approach produces greater fidelity of treatment as the EBD knowledge base evolves. This is the emphasis that is used by chapter authors as they analyze and discern current perspectives and issues in identification, assessment instruction, and practice of working with children and youth with EBD.

Federal and state laws exert an important influence on the education of students with emotional and behavioral disorders. The most important of these laws is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. States and school districts must adhere to the requirements of IDEA when educating students with disabilities in special education programs. In addition to IDEA, other federal and state laws also affect special education programs for students with EBD. Two other important areas are laws that address (a) supervisory responsibilities of teachers of students with emotional and behavioral disorders and (b) issues of bullying in schools. The purpose of this chapter is to provide an overview of Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and to examine the ways that this and other important laws affect the education of students with EBD and their teachers.

Students with emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD) are one of the most underserved populations in today's schools (Kauffman, Mock, & Simpson, 2011). Many of these students also have additional disabilities in conjunction with an EBD identification, such as Learning Disabilities (LD), Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), among other psychiatric disorders (Henley, Ramsey, & Algozzine, 2009; Kauffman, 2005).

Because the identification of EBD examines behaviors that tend to be more subjective in nature than other disabilities and because these pervasive behaviors are manifested in a variety of forms, EBD is one of the most misidentified disability categories (Skiba, Poloni-Staudinger, Gallini, Simmons, & Feggins-Azziz, 2006). For students with EBD, the behavior(s) they exhibit contribute to learning difficulties in multiple academic and functional areas. This chapter provides in-depth information on the common characteristics and behavioral dimensions of this population. Additionally, the in-school performance and long-term outcomes of students with EBD are discussed.

Assessment and identification of children with emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD) is complex and involves multiple techniques, levels, and participants. While federal law sets the general parameters for identification in school settings, these criteria are vague and may lead to inconsistencies in selection and interpretation of assessment measures. Assessment practice across school settings is greatly influenced by clinical guidelines such as the DSM-IV, which more specifically defines emotional and behavioral disorders and highlights the issue of co-morbidity. Before a student is assessed for special education eligibility under the IDEIA category of emotional disturbance, screening techniques and pre-referral interventions are needed. Positive Behavioral Supports and Response to Intervention models provide empirically supported frameworks for establishing the need for formal psychological assessment. Collaboration among members of the multidisciplinary team, including parents, helps to ensure that identification and intervention efforts have ecological validity. Tests and techniques vary considerably, but developmental histories, interviews, observations across settings, and behavioral checklists and rating scales are recommended, along with cognitive and achievement testing. While problems exist in the reliability and validity of projective techniques, they continue to be used in school-based assessment for EBD. Multitrait, multisetting, and multimethod approaches are essential for culturally fair assessment and reduction of bias in identification and placement.

Students with emotional and behavioral disorders (E/BD) receive educational and related services within a continuum of placement options per the Individual with Disabilities Education Act. The continuum of placement options ranges from fully included general education type classrooms to more restrictive environments such as alternative education settings, residential facilities, and schools within secure juvenile justice facilities. A specific placement option is based on the individualized academic and social needs of the student and includes the least restrictive environment to meet those needs. After the IFSP or IEP team develops a student's IFSP or IEP, then the team makes a placement decision. Multiple factors influence initial placement decisions including an overall reluctance to identify students with E/BD, false positives and negatives, co-morbidity, and disproportionality. Other factors may influence a temporary or long-term change in placement such as inappropriate student behavior and/or academic failure. No matter the placement, the educational services provided within each should be evidence-based, implemented with fidelity, be individualized, and be socially valid.

Little research has been conducted regarding the disproportionate representation of minority learners in programs for students with Emotional/Behavioral Disorders (E/BD). To date, the majority of the disproportionality literature examines multiple eligibility categories, most frequently the high incidence disabilities of Mild Intellectual Disabilities, E/BD, and Learning Disabilities. This chapter narrows analytical attention to a single category to add specificity and depth to disproportionality knowledge through a review of the E/BD literature between 2000 and 2010. Of the 16 studies reviewed, we found 11 socio-demographic, quantitative studies that analyzed E/BD special education placement patterns or office discipline referrals for students with E/BD. Two quantitative studies explored ecological conceptualizations of behavioral problems to understand interactions between institutions' special education eligibility processes, and socio-cultural and spatial contexts of schools. Finally, we located three studies that targeted families' perceptions of student behavior, and professionals' biases related to disproportionality. We conclude with reflections about what the current literature suggests as necessary for the next generation of research on this important topic.

Students with emotional and behavioral disorders are at great risk for long-term negative outcomes. Researchers and practitioners alike acknowledge the need for evidence-based, preventive, and early intervention strategies. Accordingly, in this chapter an expanded view of prevention is presented as a series of data driven decisions to guide provision of supports that lessen the impact of emotional/behavioral disorders (EBD). Universal screening, use of a multitiered framework, delivery of increasingly intensive support prior to chronic and persistent patterns of behavior, and continuity of service across school, home, and community settings are discussed. Specific techniques for data decision-making, use of a school-based team approach, and recommendations for future research are also provided.

This chapter provides the reader with a framework for understanding the needs of students that have concurrent needs as English Language Learners and Emotionally Behavioral Disturbed. Issues related to effective assessment practices, service delivery, and appropriate intervention are discussed.

In addressing positive general education teaching practices for use with students with or at risk for emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD), the chapter emphasizes teacher behavior change research that has been informed by applied behavior analytic (ABA) principles. Its central theme is that general education teachers can access research informed by ABA in developing prosocial instructional and management practices. Highlighted teaching practices include fostering correct academic responses from students, increasing active student response, and using contingent praise with regularity. The chapter also discusses functional behavioral assessment, positive behavioral interventions and supports, and controversial behavior change issues surrounding seclusion and restraints and medication, topics related to teaching students with or at risk for EBD in general education settings.

Today's classroom differs greatly from the classroom a decade ago. This is due, in part, to the changing demographics of students across the United States where diversity is now the norm. As children enter the educational system with diverse backgrounds, they are exposed to new experiences that facilitate changes in interests, behaviors, and learning styles. One way to address diversity in the classrooms is to focus on the model of differentiated instruction (DI). The purpose of this chapter is to discuss DI and its relationship to Universal Design for Learning (UDL), provide information why DI is a valuable model for students with EBD, and review DI modifications and adaptations that serve as academic and behavior change elements in the classroom. At the core of both of these models lies the need for flexibility and adaptations to the learning environment and materials to meet the needs of all students. Furthermore, there is a heavy emphasis from both of these constructs to allow all students access to the general education environment – not just physical but the educational benefits. To best address the social, emotional, behavioral, and academic needs of students with EBD, educators must differentiate their instruction.

Hobson's choice is a “no-choice” choice that gives general and special educators the traditional impetus to do what they want in classrooms. While there is some “goodness” in having this power and audacity to control whatever happens in classrooms, it does not allow for creativity, flexibility, adaptability, modification, especially in behavior management, assessment practices, instructional delivery. In addition, it presents many practical problems in this era of response-to-intervention (Rtl) and actually devalues the integrity of any form of remedial or special education. For many culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) learners who are already operating at different cultural, linguistic, and racial levels with their teachers and service providers, the Hobson's choice can have some unintended devastating educational effects. For example, by not allowing any alternatively creative options, CLD learners can be misidentified, misassessed, miscategorized, misplaced, and misinstructed. More so, it can lead to school drop out and increase in school and societal problems. Clearly, rather than impose the “no-choice” choice on CLD students who are sometimes disenfranchised because of the differences that they bring to school programs, it is important for general and special educators to be innovative in managing inappropriate behaviors in today's multicultural classrooms. This is the premise of this chapter.

Cover of Behavioral Disorders: Identification, Assessment, and Instruction of Students with EBD
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Advances in Special Education
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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