Emotional Disturbance (page 4)

By — Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall
Updated on Jul 20, 2010

Research Highlight

Academic Status of Students with Emotional/Behavioral Disabilities

Reid, Gonzalez, Nordness, Trout, and Epstein (2004) synthesized the results of 25 studies examining the academic status of students with emotional/behavioral disabilities (EBD) from 1961 to 2000. The final sample of students across all studies included 2,486 students with EBD with an average age of 11.22 years and an average IQ of 94.89. From the studies reporting demographic data, 80% of the sample were boys, 69% Caucasian, 27% African American, 3% Hispanic, and 1% mixed racial and ethnic backgrounds. These studies yielded 101 effect sizes with a mean effect size of .69 (SD .40). This means that on average, students with EBD were performing significantly lower than their same-aged peers without disabilities on all reported academic measures.

Findings were examined across a number of possible mediating variables including academic subject area, setting, age, and method of identification. These variables were examined to determine whether one or more might account for the lower performance of students with EBD. Students with EBD performed significantly lower than their peers across reading, math, spelling, and written expression, with the relatively lowest areas in math and spelling. These academic performance differences are similar to those that have been reported previously in research syntheses for students with learning disabilities.

When students with EBD were classified into younger (less than 12 years) and older (greater than 12) groups, it was found that both age groups performed significantly lower than normally-achieving peers. Students in residential and self-contained settings performed significantly lower on academic areas than students in other settings. This is not surprising, since those settings are more restrictive in nature and students placed there would most likely have more serious difficulties. It was also reported that the method of identification of emotional disturbance did not appear to account for the lower performance of students with EBD.

The authors concluded that students with emotional/behavioral disabilities, as a group, exhibit significant and general academic deficits. However, additional research is needed to further our understanding of the academic performance differences of students with EBD. In addition, it was recommended that future researchers more carefully define their samples of students with EBD, to help provide a better understanding of this population.

In the Classroom: General Accommodations for Students with Emotional Disabilities

  • Establish open, accepting environment.
  • Clearly state class rules and consequences.
  • Emphasize positive behaviors and program for success.
  • Reinforce positive behavior.
  • Supply extra opportunities for success.
  • Be tolerant.
  • Use good judgment.
  • Teach social skills.
  • Teach self-control, self-monitoring, and conflict resolution.
  • Teach academic survival skills.
  • Teach positive attributions.
  • Carefully select partners.
  • Have alternative activities available.
  • Design activity checklists.
  • Use carefully selected peers as assistants.
  • Have groups of “one.”
  • Use behavioral contracts.
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