An Observational Case Study of Four Second Grade General Education Students' Academic Responding and Inappropriate Behavior in the Presence of a Disruptive Student with Disabilities

By Duvall, Steven F.; Jain, Sachin et al. | Journal of Instructional Psychology, December 2010 | Go to article overview

An Observational Case Study of Four Second Grade General Education Students' Academic Responding and Inappropriate Behavior in the Presence of a Disruptive Student with Disabilities


Duvall, Steven F., Jain, Sachin, Boone, Denise, Journal of Instructional Psychology


The current observational case study involves four second grade students without disabilities in a classroom in which a disruptive student with disabilities was included. The purpose of the study was to record and analyze the academic responses (AR) and inappropriate behaviors (IB) that were exhibited by students without disabilities in three different conditions. Within an alternating observations design, the results indicated that the students' AR was lowest and IB was highest when the disruptive student was in the classroom without the para, and students' AR was highest and IB was lowest when both the disruptive student and the para left the room. Limitations and implications for future research were discussed.

Keywords: Disruptive Behavior, General Education Students, MS-CISSAR, Paraprofessional, Regular Education Classroom

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With increasing frequency, general education classrooms are being selected as the location where special education service delivery occurs (United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics [NCES], 2007). Furthermore, recent federal legislation (i.e., Individuals with Disabilities Education ImprovementAct of 2004 [P.L. 108-446]) makes it likely that this trend will continue by promoting the notion that students with disabilities be taught in settings that, to the greatest degree appropriate, resemble regular classroom environments (i.e., Least Restrictive Environment [LRE]). One might assume that educators who regularly participate on Individual Education Program (IEP) teams that decide where services occur understand how general education peers are affected when disruptive students with disabilities are simultaneously instructed in regular classrooms (i.e., inclusion). However, according to Wallace, Anderson, Reschly, and Bartholomay (2002), there is very little research that has focused on this issue. As such, it is important that educators begin to develop an understanding of how general education students are impacted when disruptive students with disabilities are taught alongside them.

Since 1989, IEP teams have determined that regular education classrooms were the LRE for increasing numbers of students with disabilities. For example, in 1989, only 31.1 percent of students with disabilities spent at least 79 percent of the day in a regular education setting (NCES, 2007). However, by 2005, states reported that 54.2 percent of such students did so (NCES, 2007). This increased percentage of included students with disabilities is noteworthy because, not only had the rate of inclusion risen, but the overall number of students with disabilities had grown faster than total school enrollments. For example, during the same time span, the ratio of special education students to total K-12 enrollment increased from 11.4 to 13.7 percent (NCES, 2006). As a result, general education students were being taught in instructional settings that included increasingly higher numbers, as well as greater proportions, of students with disabilities.

What constitutes the LRE is one of the more controversial topics in special education (McDonnell, McLaughlin, & Morrison, 1997). Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA), LRE means that each public agency shall insure that, to the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities, including those in public or private institutions or other care facilities, are educated with children who do not have disabilities. Furthermore, special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment should occur only when the nature of severity of the disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily (IDEA, 34 C.F.R. [section] 300.550 [b]). Educators must continually consider these requirements when deciding where services will be provided for students with disabilities. …

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