Students Educated in Self-Contained Classrooms and Self-Contained Schools: Part II-How Do They Progress over Time?

Article excerpt


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. …