Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

The Efficacy of CWPT Used in Secondary Alternative School Classrooms with Small Teacher/pupil Ratios and Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

The Efficacy of CWPT Used in Secondary Alternative School Classrooms with Small Teacher/pupil Ratios and Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

Article excerpt

Abstract

ClassWide Peer Tutoring (CWPT) is an evidence-based instructional strategy effective with students with and without disabilities. The evidence for efficacy is strong with respect to students in elementary schools learning basic academic skills in classrooms with large teacher-pupil ratios, and relatively less strong for students in secondary schools learning academic content skills in general education classrooms. Largely unknown, however, is the efficacy of CWPT with secondary level students with emotional and behavioral disorders (E/BD) in alternative schools with small teacher-pupil ratios. Known challenges to the efficacy of CWPT in these settings are the smaller class sizes with smaller peer groups, the high number of students in class with significant behavioral issues, and the absence of typically developing peers. Collectively, these challenges may obviate the operation of some components of CWPT contributing to its efficacy, such as novelty in weekly peer tutors or ability of peers to praise and provide response feedback. The purpose of the present investigation was to make an initial examination of CWPT used in these conditions. In two alternative school classrooms, students and teachers participated in an ABAB single-subject design comparing the current instruction (conventional) with CWPT. Results based on students' weekly biology test scores were not superior with CWPT in one classroom, and only slightly improved in the second. Based on these findings, Class-Wide Self-Management (CWSM) was added to CWPT and compared to conventional instruction in a third classroom (spelling) using an alternating treatment design. Similar test results for these students indicated sizable improvements in most, but not all, weeks of the study. Students in all three classrooms improved in the amount of time spent on-task in CWPT compared to conventional instruction. Implications for research and practice are discussed.

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Too often, students with emotional and behavioral disorders (E/BD) have difficulty in general educational settings (Kauffman, 2001), and experience many of the factors that place them at risk for school drop out (Wagner, Newman, D'Amico, Jay, Butler-Nalin, Marder & Cox, 1991). For example, students with E/BD experience an increased risk for academic failure, namely reading problems (Trout, Nordness, Pierce, & Epstein, 2003), and ongoing behavioral problems (Vaughn, Levy, Coleman, & Bos, 2002). Trout et al. (2003) found in the majority of studies reviewed that, more often than not, students with E/BD were below grade level compared to their peers. They also noted that students with E/BD often do not experience academic success. Hence, a focus on both basic skills and content area knowledge are essential. In terms of long-term outcomes, students with E/BD are typically less likely to enroll in postsecondary education (Wagner et al., 1991), and experience higher unemployment and arrest rates (Blackorby & Wagner, 1996). The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 was set forth to improve and encourage the academic achievement of all students. Efforts need to be made to help ensure the success of students with E/BD across educational settings, including in alternative schools.

Kleiner, Porch, and Farris (2002) define an alternative education school as a public elementary or secondary school that, "(1) addresses the needs of students that typically cannot be met in a regular school; (2) provides nontraditional education; (3) serves as an adjunct to a regular school; and (4) falls outside of the categories of regular, special education, or vocational education" (p. 55). Alternative schools often serve youth who are unsuccessful in their regular school placement because of a variety of risk factors, namely problem behaviors, and are often characteristic of a "highly fluid" (Kleiner et al., 2002) and smaller (Lange and Sletten, 2002) student enrollments. In addition, they have been characterized as schools that "have been designed to respond to a group that appears not to be optimally served by the regular program" (Raywind, 1994, p. …

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