Academic journal article Exceptional Children

Academic Achievement of K-12 Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

Academic journal article Exceptional Children

Academic Achievement of K-12 Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

Article excerpt

Children and adolescents with emotional and behavioral disorders (E/BD) characteristically present both behavioral and achievement problems that interfere with their schooling (Epstein, Kinder, & Bursuck, 1989; Scruggs & Mastropieri, 1986; Walker, Colvin, & Ramsey, 1995; Walker & Severson, 2002). Compared to other disability groups, children and adolescents with E/BD have lower graduation rates and are less likely to attend postsecondary school (Bullis & Cheney, 1999; Kauffman, 2001). As a result, such children and adolescents often experience a variety of problems related to education (Department of Health and Human Services, 1999). In this context, it is of interest to investigate the academic achievement skills of students with E/BD in public school settings.

Previous research on the academic status of children with E/BD in public schools has focused on three areas: (a) comparative analyses of the academic achievement of children with E/BD with normally achieving students and those with learning disabilities or mental retardation, (b) investigations of the prevalence rates (co-occurrence) of E/BD and academic underachievement deficits, and (c) studies of the particular types of problem behavior related to academic achievement (e.g., Anderson, Kutash, & Duchnowski, 2001; Scruggs & Mastropieri, 1986). Children with E/BD consistently show moderate to severe academic achievement deficits relative to nor-really achieving students (e.g., Greenbaum et al., 1996; Mattison, Spitznagel, & Felix, 1998; Meadows, Neel, Scott, & Parker, 1994; Wagner, 1995). Scruggs and Mastropieri, for example, found that a sample of second-grade children with E/BD performed one or more standard deviations below normally achieving peers in vocabulary, listening comprehension, spelling, social studies, and science. Furthermore, although most researchers have focused on the reading and mathematic achievement of children with E/BD, there is some evidence to suggest that they appear to evince academic achievement deficits in all content areas (i.e., reading, math, written language, science, and social studies; Brier, 1995; Gajar, 1979; Scruggs & Mastropieri; Wilson, Cone, Bradley, & Reese, 1986).

Comparative analyses of students with E/BD and those with learning disabilities (Epstein & Cullinan, 1983; Gajar, 1979; Scruggs & Mastropieri, 1986; Wagner, 1995; Wilson, et al., 1986) and mental retardation (Gajar; Wagner; Wilson et al.) have been conducted to identify the relative adverse effect of these disabilities on academic achievement. The findings from these studies were mixed. Researchers reported that children with E/BD were more likely (Gajar; Scruggs & Mastropieri) and less likely (Epstein & Cullinan; Wagner; Wilson et al.) to show academic achievement deficits than students with learning disabilities. Similarly, the relative adverse effect of E/BD and mental retardation on academic achievement is unclear. Researchers reported that children with E/BD were more likely (Gajar) and less likely (Wagner; Wilson et al.) to have academic achievement deficits than those with mental retardation.

It is interesting to note that researchers of one study compared the academic achievement of students with E/BD and learning disabilities over time (Anderson et al., 2001). Anderson and colleagues found that students with E/BD performed significantly better than those with learning disabilities on reading and mathematic measures in kindergarten and first grade but not in the fifth and sixth grade. Moreover, the reading achievement scores of students with E/BD did not improve over time, whereas students with learning disabilities demonstrated statistically significant improvement in the 5 years from intake to follow-up. These findings provide evidence to suggest that E/BD may have a more adverse impact on academic achievement over time than do learning disabilities.

The prevalence of academic achievement deficits among students with E/BD has also been examined by researchers (Mattison, Hooper, & Glassberg, 2002; Mattison et al. …

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