Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

Consider the Opportunities: A Response to No Child Left Behind

Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

Consider the Opportunities: A Response to No Child Left Behind

Article excerpt


No Child Left Behind offers many challenges to those who work with children with EBD. It also offers opportunities never before available for collaboration and cooperation between general and special educators. Two snapshots of opportunities are provided. The first summarizes some of the challenges our field faces in the next decade and outlines an argument for why the context of collaboration and cooperation could change. The second snapshot looks at gains of virtual reality therapies in addressing some of the more serious problems of children with behavior disorders, and discusses how these innovative techniques offer insights into how we design and deliver instruction. Conclusions for teaching in typical, non-computer based classrooms are also discussed.


The education of children with emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD) has changed significantly over the past 4 decades I have been in this field. The National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE) reports that 95% of students with disabilities who attend school participate in state assessments with appropriate accommodations or alternative assessments (NASDSE, 2002, p. 4). Of course, this is only for students in school, and we know that many students with EBD aren't in school. Three-quarters of them are suspended or expelled (Bradley, Henderson, & Monfore, 2004), and in 2000 less than 48 percent of them left school with a diploma (U.S. Department of Education, 2002). Although we have made significant progress, we still have a lot more to do. Paramount on the list are concerns around high stake testing, functional assessments, calls for appropriate annual yearly progress, and access to general education curricula.

We still are debating whom we are going to serve and how and where we will serve them. On the whole children with emotional and behavioral disorders are underrepresented (Kauffman, 2005). Yet while minorities, especially African American males, are overrepresented in classrooms for children with EBD, even with the increased attention given to gender issues females are underrepresented (Bradley, Henderson, & Monfore, 2004). Additionally, a majority of teachers general and special classrooms report they feel inadequately prepared to teach the children they are assigned (Jones, Dohrn, & Dunn, 2004; Sachs & Cheney, 2000).

IDEA's mandate to access general education curriculum has met with some success. More than one-half of children with EBD use, with substantial modifications, some of the books and materials used by their non-disabled peers. (Bradley, Henderson, & Monfore, 2004). However, another one-third of the students use a general education curriculum without any modification, and an additional one-sixth of them do not use any curriculum at all! What is included in "general education" curriculum is poorly defined (Davis, et al., 2004), and a limited amount of work has been done discovering what are best practices in terms of academic instruction for children with EBD (Fisher, & Frey, 2001; Lane, & Wehby, 2002). The types of accommodations and modifications needed to support children with EBD are still largely undetermined. It appears that our versions of specialized instruction are not very specialized. The most frequently used accommodations are more time to complete tasks and tests and slower paced instruction (Bradley, Henderson, & Monfore, 2004). Wagner and colleagues questioned if the accommodations we do have are actually being used (Wagner, & Blackorby, 2002).

A related problem is the lack of impact of programs for EBD. As Bradley (2004) and her colleagues point out, the continued report of poor outcomes for children with EBD indicates that more research is needed. If we hope to garner the resources needed to support our work with children with EBD, researcher will need to identify and validate specialized instructional strategies and supports necessary to ensure adequate outcomes. …

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