Little attention has been dedicated to monitoring the educational progress of students with EBD receiving services in restrictive settings, using empirically validated tools and procedures. This study compared the progress of students with EBD receiving special education services in either a self-contained school or self-contained classrooms to determine if these students were benefiting from placement in their respective settings. Progress was assessed using behavior rating scales, standardized measures, curriculum-based measures, and school record data. Results revealed limited academic improvement in either setting with no significant differences between groups on any of the standardized or curriculum-based measures, with the exception of written expression. In addition, there was limited progress in the behavioral and social domains. There were no significant differences in the progress of students in either setting in social skills, externalizing behavior, and disciplinary contacts. However, the internalizing behaviors were able to differentiate between groups. Implications of these findings were discussed in light of the limitations and directions for future research were offered.
Students with emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD) are characterized by behavioral and social characteristics such as impaired relationships with teachers and peers, limited ability to interpret social cues and interactions, and limited problem-solving skills, (Gunter & Denny, 1998; Lane, Gresham, & O'Shaughnessy, 2002; Walker, Irvin, Noel], & Singer, 1992; Walker, Ramsey, & Gresham, 2004). These behavioral deficits and excesses coupled with limited academic skills (Lane & Wehby, 2002) make it challenging to provide these students with a balanced curriculum in the least restrictive environment (LRE) as specified in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA, 1997). Not only is it challenging to provide an instruction program that addresses the core curriculum, as well as students' goals and objectives specified in their individualized education programs (IEPs), the current practices used to monitor student progress and guide placement decisions further contribute to the challenge of accurately evaluating these students' educational progress.
Placement and intervention practices for students with EBD are often noted for their informality and ambiguity (Hallenbeck, Kauffman, & Lloyd, 1993). In terms of placement decision, there is an assumption that students with EBD who have the most severe deficits academically, behavioral Iy, and socially will be placed in more restrictive settings (e.g., self-contained) and schools (Lane, Wehby, Little, & Cooley, 2005). Yet, the veracity of this assumption has not been explored. To date, there has been only one study conducted to determine if there are differences in the academic, behavioral, and social characteristics of students educated in more and less restrictive settings (Lane et al., 2005). Lane and colleagues conducted a study of students with EBD who were receiving services in self-contained classrooms and a selfcontained school to determine if students in the later placement actually had more deficits. Results suggest that students with EBD with more severe academic deficits as measured by standardized and curriculum-based measures are found in more restrictive settings. Yet, the data on social and behavioral characteristics were less clear. There were no differences in social competence of the students educated in these settings. However, social skills were only assessed from the teacher perspective. There were behavioral differences between the groups with students in the more restrictive setting having higher numbers of disciplinary contacts and negative narrative comments in their cumulative files as measured by the School Archival Records Search (Walker, BlockPedego, Todis, & Severson, 1991). Although the results from this study must be interpreted with caution given the rather small sample size, there is preliminary evidence to suggest that behavior rating scales (e.g., Social Skills Rating System, Gresham & Elliott, 1990), curriculumbased measures, and school records data may be useful in explaining the variation of academic and behavioral characteristics of students educated in more and less restrictive environments.
A key component to the least restrictive environment mandate is that students will benefit educationally in their placement. If the least restrictive environment for many students with EBD is some type of self-contained placement (i.e., classroom or school), these placements may be justified if students within these settings show growth on both academic and social dimensions. Whereas educational improvement is often assessed via the successful attainment of goals and objectives written in an individualized education plan, there has been criticism that this approach may not provide an accurate portrait of the social and academic achievement of students receiving special education (Mattison & Felix, 1997; Mattison & Spitznagel, 2001; Smith, 1990; Smith & Simpson, 1989). Thus, restrictive classrooms may be justified given levels of academic and social performance at the time of initial placement; however, further justification must be established based upon evaluation of student progress within that setting.
Determining whether students with EBD benefit from these restrictive placements is of particular importance given the descriptive research on the instructional characteristics of these settings. Beginning with Steinberg and Knitzer (1990), classrooms for students with EBD have been described as generally ill equipped to meet the multiple needs of this population. In addition, there have been several studies documenting the lack of systematic academic instruction within self-contained settings for students with EBD (Shores, Jack, et al., 1993; Wehby, Symons, Canale, & Co, 1998; Wehby, Symons, & Shores, 1995); these studies did not report student growth on either social or academic measures across any significant time period. As a result, it is not clear the degree to which self-contained settings provide the necessary supports for improvement to students with EBD.
Given the increased emphasis on outcome accountability (Shriner, 1994) and the limited knowledge regarding the progress of students with EBD students in these more segregated environments (Mattison & Felix, 1997; Mattison & Spitznagel, 2001), it is important to understand how much educational benefit these students are gaining. Further, it is important that empirically-validated tools and procedures, such as behavioral rating scales, curriculum-based measures, and school record data, be used to accurately measure student progress (Mattison & Spitznagel, 2001) rather than more subjective techniques such as committee discussion.
The current study occurred as part of a larger project, Educating Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders: Examination of Educational Programs (Project E/BD), in which the intent was twofold. The first objective was to examine the academic, behavioral, and social characteristics of students with EBD educated in more restrictive settings to students with EBD educated in less restrictive environments. The second objective was to inspect how students progressed as a function of setting and to examine the utility of a variety of measures in monitoring student performance. Results of the first objective can be found in Lane et al., (2005). In this paper, we present findings specific to the second objective. Specifically, we will examine how students with EBD who are educated in selfcontained classrooms and a self-contained school progressed academically, behavioralIy, and socially over the course of one academic year to determine if greater progress is made in one setting or another.
Participants were 60 (41 males, 19 females) students who were receiving special education services in either self-contained classrooms on general education campuses (n = 26) or a self-contained school (n = 34; see Table 7, Participant Characteristics) in a southern metropolitan public school district. Both placements were dedicated to serving students with high incidence disabilities, mostly those with emotional disturbances, who exhibited emotional and behavioral disorders (descriptions of both placements will follow). According to the district, students are assigned to these settings when their behaviors become too difficult for teachers to manage in a less restrictive setting (e.g., general education classroom or resource room). All students in the self-contained classrooms and the self-contained school had received special education services in less restrictive settings (e.g., resource rooms) prior to being placed in either of the self-contained settings. These self-contained classrooms served multiple grade levels, with elementary classes serving students in kindergarten through fourth grade and middle school classes serving students in fifth through eighth grade.
Fifty-five percent (n = 33) of participants were of elementary age (kindergarten through fifth grade) and 45% (n = 27) were of secondary age (sixth through eighth grade). The majority of the participants had a primary handicapping condition of emotionally disturbed (n = 42, 70.00%), with the remaining students having primary labels of learning disability (LD, n = 8, 13.33%), other health impaired (OHI) with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD, n = 6, 10.00%) (American Psychological Association, 1994); OHI not specified (n = 2, 3.33%), mild mental retardation (MMR, n = 1, 1.67%), and language (n = 1,1.67%). The range of disability categories reported for this sample is similar to other studies of students with EBD that we have conducted in these classrooms (e.g., Strong, Wehby, FaIk, & Lane, in press; Sutherland & Wehby, 2001; Wehby, FaIk, Barton-Arwood, Lane, & Cooley, 2003; Wehby, Lane, & FaIk, 2003). A descriptive study of 100 students enrolled in these same self-contained classrooms revealed clinical levels of externalizing behaviors, aggressive behaviors, and social problems (Wehby & Lane, in preparation).
The majority of participants were also African American (n = 45, 75.00%) with the remaining students being Caucasian (n = 13, 21.67%) and Hispanic (n = 2, 3.33%). Students ranged in age from 6.08 to 13.96 (M = 10.87, SD = 1.76), with no significant differences in mean age between students educated in the self-contained school and the self-contained classroom settings [f (58) = 1.73, p = 0.0892]. Mean intellectual ability was 81.08 (SD = 22.40), also with no significant differences in mean intellectual ability between groups [t (58) = -0.01, p = 0.9889]. Chi-square analyses contrasting placement (self-contained classrooms and self-contained school) X gender [χ^sup 2^ (1, N = 60) = 0.02, p = 0.896O]; placement X grade level [χ^sup 2^ (1, N = 60) = 0.46, p = 0.4960], placement X gender [χ^sup 2^ (1, N = 60) = 0.02, p= 0.8960], and grade level X gender [χ^sup 2^(1,N = 60) = 1.8680 p = 0.1717] were not significant. Chi-square analyses involving ethnicity and primary label were not possible due to cell counts with fewer than five observations.
As previously explained in Lane et al. (2005), we approached the principal of a self-contained school serving students with EBD in a metropolitan school district in middle Tennessee about participating in this investigation. All teachers (n = 9) agreed to participate by allowing project staff to assess student progress using standardized measures, curriculum-based measures, and behavioral rating scales. We secured parental consent and student assent from 43 students (30 males, 13 females).
The district provided the primary investigator with a matched sample of students (n = 106) who were receiving special education services in 47 self-contained classes across the district. These students were matched on primary disability category (e.g., ED, LD, OHI-ADHD, OHI, and MMR) and gender to the maximum extent possible. Of the 47 special education teachers, only 28 elected to participate. This enabled us to invite 57 students from self-contained classrooms to participate in the study. Of the 57 students invited, parental consent and student assent were obtained for 29 students (51%).
The initial sample included 37 teachers (9 from the self-contained school, 28 from self-contained classrooms located on general education school sites) and 72 students (43 from the self-contained school, 29 from selfcontained classrooms; see Lane et al. (in review), for a comparison of these two groups at the onset of the school year). For purposes of this study, data were analyzed for students who had no more than one source of missing data at year end. For example, if a given student was not available to complete the WoodcockJohnson III Test of Achievement (WJ-III; Woodcock, McGrew, & Mather, 2001) and the student moved before the School Archival Record Search (SARS; Walker et al., 1991) was conducted, then that student was not included in this study of student outcomes. This criteria resu lted in 12 students (9 from the self-contained school, 3 from the self-contained classrooms) being removed from the pool of participants. Thus, this paper documents the outcomes of 60 students (34 from the self-contained school, 26 from self-contained classrooms).
The district mandated that teachers at the self-contained school and the self-contained classrooms teach the district's core curriculum and address the newly-developed district standards. Thus, in addition to providing instruction in social and affect areas such as social skills and anger management training, teachers were required to provide instruction in reading, written expression, mathematics, social studies, and science. Teachers in both settings were required to turn in lesson plans that detailed how the district standards were being taught and how the individualized education plans were being addressed. While both placements had classroom management systems, the self-contained school had a point system used by all teachers. This system had a strong self-monitoring component that required students to self-evaluate three school goals (follow directions, body under control, and be nice to others) and one individualized goal 11 times over the school day. Although some of the teachers in the self-contained classrooms also used this point system, it was not used consistently across these classrooms. There were also personnel differences between these placements. Both placements had a full-time teacher and an instructional aide in each classroom. However, as expected, the self-contained school offered additional support staff and had additional disciplinary options. For example, the more restrictive placement had mental health counselors who held weekly group therapy sessions, additional aides who were available to assist with students who demonstrated severe disruptive behavior, and a time-out area separate from the actual classroom.
Students' academic, social, and behavioral performances were assessed from multiple perspectives at the onset and end of the academic year using empirically-validated tools and procedures. Academic performance was measured using the Woodcock-Johnson III Test of Achievement (WJ-III; Woodcock et al., 2001) and curriculum-based measures (Boning, 1998) of reading comprehension. Social and behavioral performances were measured using the Social Skills Rating System (SSRS; Gresham & Elliott, 1 990) and the School Archival Record Search (SARS; Walker et al., 1991). Further, the block design and vocabulary subtests from the Wechsler Intelligence Test-111 (WISC-III) was administered at the onset of the academic year to obtain an estimate of intelligence.
Woodcock-Johnson III Test of Achievement (WJ-III; Woodcock et al., 2001). The WJIII is used to identify discrepancies, design educational and individual programs, provide psychometric training, conduct research, offer guidance in educational and clinical settings, and monitor student growth. The WJ-III is an individually administered achievement battery that is divided into two batteries (Standard and Extended) and available in two parallel forms. The Standard Battery provides a range of scores and the Extended Battery yields more specific diagnostic information. Broad Reading, Oral Language-Standard, Broad Written Language, and Broad Math are among the 10 cluster scores constituting the Standard Battery. Cluster reliability estimates are 0.90 and higher. Administration time for the WJIM Standard Battery is approximately 55-65 minutes. In this study, the entire WJ-III Standard Battery was administered by project staff or certificated teachers at the beginning of the academic year and again at the school year's end. However, only the previously mentioned scores will be analyzed. Scoring was verified on all WJ-IIIs by having a research assistant rescore each protocol. Prior to administering the WJ-III, research assistants participated in approximately 20 hours of training. Standard scores were used in the analyses.
Curriculum-Based Measures: Reading Comprehension
Grade-level passages from Boning's (1998) Multiple Skills Series: Reading were administered individually to students twice a month for the entire academic year to assess reading comprehension skills (RCMP). Students read a separate grade-level passage to the research assistant and then completed five multiple-choice questions. The percentage of correct answers was calculated by dividing the number of correct responses by the total number of questions. The first three probes were averaged together to serve as onset data and the final three probes were averaged together to serve as year-end data. Research assistants participated in approximately 10 hours of training and achieved 0.90 reliability before administering probes. Inter-rater agreement was collected on 12.70% of the probes with estimates for RCMP ranging from 75% to 100% (M = 95.83, 5D= 10.21).
Social Skills Rating System-Teacher Version (SSRS-T; Gresham & Elliott, 1990). The elementary and secondary versions of the SSRS-T were completed by the special education teachers. Both versions contain three subscales: social skills, problem behaviors, and academic competence. The social skills scale contains teacher ratings of 30 social skills equally distributed across three domains (cooperation, assertion, and self-control). Each item is rated on a 3-point Likert-type scale (never - O, sometimes = 1, to very often = 2). The elementary version contains 18 behavior problem items equally distributed across three domains (externalizing, internalizing, and hyperactivity). The secondary version contains 12 behavior problem items equally distributed across two domains (externalizing and internalizing). The academic competence items on both versions contain nine items rated on a 5-point Likert-type scale with each point corresponding to clusters (lowest 10% = 1 to highest 10% = 5). For purposes of this study, student progress on social skills (standardized score), externalizing behavior (raw score), and internalizing behavior (raw score) was assessed. Coefficient alpha reliabilities for the social skills subscale range from 0.86 to 0.94 (Mdn = 0.90), problem behavior subscale range from 0.78 to 0.89, and academic competence is 0.95. Teachers completed the SSRS-T at the beginning of the school year and again at school year's end. Completion time was approximately 15-20 minutes.
School Archival Record Search (SARS; Walker et al., 1991). The SARS quantifies school records data found in a student's school records on 11 dimensions. In this paper two dimensions, disciplinary contacts and number of retentions, were examined. Disciplinary contacts refers to the number of infractions or rule violations that resulted in contact with an administrator within the past 12 months. Number of retentions refers to the number of times a student has repeated a given grade level during his or her school career. Interrater reliability estimates ranged from 94% to 100% across the 11 domains (total form = 96%). Research assistants completed the training manual before collecting data.
Wechs/er Intelligence Test-111 Short Form (WlSC-III). The block design and vocabulary subtests of the WISC-HI Short Form were administered to students at the beginning of the academic year to obtain an estimate of intellectual functioning. Sattler's (1991) recommended formula for conversion to a deviation quotient was used to calculate the estimate (r = 0.91).
Due to the smaller than anticipated sample size, it was necessary to select a subset of the previously mentioned measures to include in the analyses. When selecting specific subscale scores, measures were included if they met one or both of the following criteria: (a) those that reflected common characteristics of students with EBD; and (b) those that provided data that are often influential in making placement decisions (e.g., disciplinary contacts, referrals).
Experimental Design and Statistical Analysis
The experimental design was a 2 X 2 (Placement X Time) repeated measures model. Placement was a between-subjects factor and time was a within-subjects factor. This model produced an interaction of Placement X Time, main effects for placement (two levels: self-contained classrooms and self-contained school), and time (two levels: year onset, year end).
To examine how students in self-contained classrooms and a self-contained school progressed over the course of the academic year, a series of repeated measures ANOVAs, with time as the repeated measures factor and placement membership as the betweensubjects factor, was computed (Grimm & Yarnold, 1995; Hatcher & Stepanski, 1994). A one-way ANOVA using difference scores (yearend scores minus year onset scores) was also conducted. The F-values in both the repeated measures ANOVAs (Placement X Time interaction) and the one way ANOVAs using difference scores were identical. Therefore, only results of the one-way ANOVA will be discussed. Lastly, effect sizes were computed using both the correlation between groups and a pooled standard deviation in the denominator (Lipsey & Wilson, 2001).
Difference scores for Broad Reading, F (1, 58) = 2.12, p = 0.1512, Oral Language, F (1, 58) = 3.62, p = 0.0619; Broad Math, F (1, 58) = 2.20, p = 0.1432; and Reading Comprehension, F (1, 58) = 3.49, p = 0.0667 showed no significant difference in growth for students educated in self-contained classrooms and a self-contained school. This suggests that students in both settings made similar progress on these measures. However, results of Oral Language and Reading Comprehension (CBM) difference scores approached significance with effect size calculations of -0.56 and -0.63, respectively, revealing moderate change in favor of students educated in the self-contained school. There was a significant difference in Broad Written Language scores, FfI, 58) = 7.17, p = 0.0096. Results indicated that students in the self-contained school actually experience significant decreases in written language as compared to students educated in the selfcontained classrooms (effect size = 0.88).
It is interesting to note that several of the difference scores, five for students in selfcontained classrooms and three for students in the self-contained school (written language, broad math, and broad reading), were negative. Given that standard scores were used in this analysis, this finding indicates that student skills did not advance as much as the normative sample. Maintaining the same score from the beginning of the year to the end of year requires at-grade-level progress, which did not occur for these students.
Behavioral and Social Performance
Difference scores for Social Skills, F (1, 58) = 0.59, p = 0.4440; Externalizing Behavior, F (1, 58) = 1.53, p = 0.2204 (effect size = 0.34); and Disciplinary Contacts, F (1, 58) = 0.04, p= 0.8518 (effect size = -0.05) indicated no significant difference in growth between the groups. There were significant differences between students educated in self-contained classrooms and in a self-contained school on Internalizing Behavior, F (1, 58) = 5.22, p = 0.0260 (effect size = 0.62) and Number of Retentions, F (1, 58) = 7.82, p = 0.0070 (effect size = 0.63), with students in the self-contained school showing significant decreases in both scores relative to students educated in selfcontained classrooms.
As with academic outcomes, students in the self-contained classrooms showed positive difference scores on all social and behavioral variables, which suggest that although these students progressed in social skills (Mos = 1.92), there were actually increases in externalizing behaviors, internalizing behaviors, disciplinary contacts, and number of retentions. For students in the self-contained school, scores showed a decrease in social skills (Mas = -1.27) and an increase in externalizing behaviors (Mas = 0.12) and disciplinary contacts (MDS = 0.65). Yet, this latter group showed changes in the desired direction for both internalizing behaviors (MDS = -0.15) and number of retentions (MDS = -0.12).
To date, little attention has been devoted to monitoring the educational progress of students with EBD receiving services in restrictive settings in a systematic, data-driven manner (Mattison & Felix, 1997). Further, there has been limited attention devoted to using objective, empirically validated methods of monitoring the educational progress of students with EBD over the course of an academic year (Mattison & Spitznagel, 2001). Although Mattison and colleagues (Mattison & Felix, 1997; Mattison & Spitznagel, 2001) have demonstrated the utility of standardized measures in guiding placement decisions and assessing student progress over a 3-year period, this work has used only one empirically validated tool, the Teacher Report Form (TRF; Achenbach, 1991).
This study compared the progress of students with EBD receiving special education services in either a self-contained school or a self-contained classroom to determine if these students were benefiting from placement in these restrictive settings. More specifically, we extended the current knowledge base (Mattison & Spitznagel, 2001) by evaluating changes in students' performance in academic, social, and behavioral domains using a variety of well-established measures including behavior rating scales, curriculum-based measures, standardized achievement tests, and school records.
Results revealed limited academic improvement in either setting with no significant differences between groups on any of the standardized or curriculum-based measures, with the exception of written expression. While students in the self-contained school did make modest progress in reading comprehension and oral language skills as evidenced by effect size values of -0.56 and -0.63, these students actually experienced significant decreases in writing scores as compared to students in the selfcontained classrooms who showed no change on this measure. There are several possible interpretations of these findings. First, given the severity of the problem behavior reported in the self-contained school, it is possible that less time was allocated for academic instruction to make room for supporting therapies such as anger management and social skills instruction. As a result, there may have been a decision by this school to minimize instruction in writing rather than reading and mathematics. This may stem from the well-emphasized importance of reading and mathematical skills for students and the less-emphasized importance of writing skills.
Another interpretation is that there is little research to guide teachers on the implementation of effective writing for students with EBD (Lane & Beebe-Frankenberger, 2004; Tindal & Crawford, 2002). Given the lack of improvement on this measure for students in either setting, it is possible that neither the research nor the teaching communities have identified effective instructional strategies for teaching written expression skills to this difficult to teach population.
This lack of attention to academic instruction is not surprising given previously held notions that student behavior needed to be managed before providing academic instruction (Shores, Gunter, & Jack, 1993). Research suggests that students exhibiting higher levels of inappropriate behavior generally receive less instruction from their teachers (Wehby et al., 1998; Wehby, Tally, & FaIk, 2004). This finding has been reported in studies conducted in self-contained schools, self-contained classrooms, and in the general education setting (Lago-Dello, 1998; Skinner & Belmont, 1993; Van Acker, Grant, & Henry, 1996). It may be that teachers' attempts to provide instruction are extinguished by aversive reactions from students resulting in a cycle of negative reinforcement that impedes or, in extreme situations, eliminates instruction. Although teacher instructional patterns were not examined in this study, this pattern may explain why so many of the academic measures' difference scores in both settings were negative, thereby reflecting lower academic performance levels or, in the case of standardized measures (e.g., WJ-III variables), why students did not advance at the anticipated rate per the normative sample, between the beginning and end of the academic year.
Behavioral and Social Realm
In the behavioral and social realm, results indicated no significance in the progress of students in either setting in social skills, externalizing behavior, and disciplinary contacts. These findings run somewhat contrary to Mattison and Spitznagel's results (2001) in the sense that externalizing behavior, which approximates the aggression subscale of the TRF, was not able to differentiate between the two groups. However, the internalizing behaviors were able to differentiate between groups. Specifically, students in the self-contained school showed significant decreases in internalizing behaviors as well as the number of retentions as compared to students in the self-contained classrooms. Thus, students in the more restrictive setting were more likely not to repeat a given grade and showed progress with internalizing behaviors as evidenced by significant decreases in mean scores. It may have been that the self-contained school, with its on-site mental health counselors and frequent behavioral evaluations, may have provided more opportunities for students to respond verbally, thereby improving oral language skills and, in turn, may have prompted improvements in internalizing behaviors. Overall, the relatively few changes on social and behavioral measures suggest that instruction in these domains was somewhat ineffective or that the measures used to monitor progress were not sensitive enough to detect changes (Lane, 1999).
Collectively, these findings suggest that over the course of an academic year students with significant EBD made very little progress and, in some areas, fell further behind in the academic, social, and behavioral domains. While these findings generally were not positive, there were some differences between these two settings as already mentioned. Yet, for the most part, there was little disparity in student performance between the settings with a general lack of student progress observed for students in the self-contained school and selfcontained classrooms.
These findings are not intended to be an evaluation of the appropriateness of these restrictive settings. In fact, based on the first study of this project (Lane et al., 2005), it appears that placements in either the selfcontained school or self-contained classrooms were justified based upon student profiles assessed at the beginning of the school year. The results of this current investigation, while clearly preliminary in nature, appear to extend the literature that has highlighted the relatively ineffective and low levels of instruction provided to students with EBD, regardless of placement (Wehby et al., 2003; Wehby et al., 1998).
In sum, results of this study suggest that the educational benefit component of the least restrictive environment (LRE; IDEA, 1997) mandate does not appear to have been met for these students. We acknowledge that teaching students with severe EBD is extremely difficult. Given the characteristics of this population, we would not expect overwhelming improvement in any of the three domains over the course of a single school year. However, the decreases in performance on many of the measures within both settings is troublesome and suggest that for this population, additional supports may be needed if more positive gains are to be observed.
Lack of progress in these two settings may be similar to response patterns of students educated in other less restrictive settings. The minimal gains that were observed in these selfcontained settings may be similar to outcomes of students with EBD educated in more inclusive settings. As will be discussed in the limitations section, until this type of investigation is conducted across the continuum of special education placements, definitive conclusions cannot be drawn about the degree to which self-contained classrooms and schools support or inhibit academic, social, and behavioral progress. Consequently, these findings must be interpreted with caution.
A number of limitations of this study should be considered when determining the study's implications. First, the sample size was small given the purpose of the study. Thus, the generalizabiiity of findings is somewhat limited and the findings need to be interpreted with caution. In a similar vein, just slightly more than half of the students in the selfcontained classrooms participated in the study. Because it is not possible to ascertain if students with EBD whose parents' provided consent are representative of the whole population of students with EBD in each selfcontained setting, again generalizabiiity of findings may be limited. Future investigations with larger and more comprehensive samples are necessary to confirm these findings. Until such time, results are tentative.
Next, as noted in the method section, a percentage of the participants in this study were receiving special education services under a label other than emotional disturbance (ED). While this may be viewed as somewhat troublesome, the school district in which the study was conducted used the self-contained school and self-contained classrooms to serve children with high incidence disabilities who showed high levels of problem behavior. Given the ambiguous federal definition of ED (Lane, in press), we would argue that in some cases it would be difficult to discriminate a student with a high-incidence disability who showed behavior problems and a student diagnosed as ED. However, we recognize that the variety of educational labels represented within this sample does limit our ability to extrapolate the findings to a specific disability group. Future work in this area may want to compare the progress of students with ED and those students with other high-incidence disabilities who are also showing significant behavioral difficulties.
Another limitation is that we investigated only two types of placements for these students. Future inquiries would be wise to investigate the progress of students with EBD who are served in less restrictive settings along the LRE continuum (e.g., general education classrooms, resource rooms). Inclusion of a greater variety of educational placements may provide important information regarding the interaction between restrictiveness of setting and educational benefit for students with EBD. It was not possible to include a sample of students with EBD who were receiving services in the general education setting as the district had a limited number of students being served in this capacity. Data analyses would have been limited severely due to the low sample size. We recommend that future studies not only include this additional comparison, but also examine academic, social, and behavioral progress of students in these settings across the grade span-elementary, middle, and high schools. It is possible that students at different grade levels would have varying degrees of progress. The current sample was not large enough to explore these areas.
On a related note, future investigations could be enhanced by collecting standardized setting evaluations that could assist in making comparisons. Although the district required students in all settings to received instruction in written expression, it is possible that implementation was different across these placements.
Summary and Future Directions
Given the increased emphasis on outcome accountability (Shriner, 1994) and the need to provide a balanced educational program addressing academic, social, and behavioral deficits, it is important for educators and researchers to monitor the progress of students with EBD using effective, efficient, and valid assessment techniques (Lane & Beebe-Frankenberger, 2004; Mattison & Felix, 1997). Results of this study do not suggest that students with EBD make more progress in a specific domain (academic, social, and/or behavioral) in either setting. These findings should be viewed as preliminary until future studies conducted with larger sample sizes substantiate these findings. However, the results do highlight the need for determining the level and types of support needed, regardless of setting, to ensure that students with EBD are making adequate progress in all areas. Further, any discussion of the appropriateness of placement needs to address not only levels of support, but also data-based methods of assessing student progress.
This project was funded through the Peabody College Small Grants Competition.
We wish to thank the project coordinator, Christy Cooley, and all of the research assistants-Cara Reske, Sharon Raines, Sarah Freyer, Lauren Gable, Ada Lee Thompson, Sharon L. Savage, and Kerrin Gersen-who participated in this research project.
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Kathleen L. Lane, Joseph H. Wehby, M. Annette Little, and Cristy Cooley, Peabody College of Vanderbilt University