Increasing Positive Outcomes for African American Males in Special Education with the Use of Guided Notes

By Patterson, Karen B. | The Journal of Negro Education, Fall 2005 | Go to article overview

Increasing Positive Outcomes for African American Males in Special Education with the Use of Guided Notes


Patterson, Karen B., The Journal of Negro Education


The use of appropriate interventions is a critical component of educating students, particularly African Americans in special education. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of guided notes on the academic performance of eight African American boys identified as having emotional or behavioral disorders (EBD) and learning disabilities (LD) in special education. Findings indicate that the use of guided notes could be an effective intervention strategy for improving academic performance and positive outcomes for students with EBD. This study supported earlier findings in which guided notes were used during class instruction.

African American students are disproportionately represented in special education, and, as the numbers continue to increase, so does the challenge facing educators and school districts. More than any other group, the problem of over-representation of minority students, particularly African American males in special education (Office of Special Education Programs, 2001), is disconcerting. Disproportionate representation relates to the extent to which students with particular characteristics (e.g., race, ethnicity, language background, socioeconomic status, gender, and age) are placed in a specific type of educational program or provided access to services, resources, curriculum, and instructional and classroom management strategies (Salend & Garrick Duhaney, 2005; Salend, Garrick Duhaney, & Montgomery, 2002). For example, African American and Native American students, particularly males, are over-represented in terms of their classification as students with highincidence disabilities, such as mental retardation, learning disabilities, and emotional disturbance (Yates, 1998). High incidence disabilities require an extensive degree of professional judgment for a consensus to determine the disability (Arnold & Lassmann, 2003; MacMillan, & Reschley, 1998).

Arnold and Lassmann (2003) posit that because there is no standard definition for these high incidence disabilities, a student can move from one state to another and "get over" a high incidence diagnosis. Furthermore, it is the very nature of these high incidence disabilities and the frequency with which they occur that contribute to errors in the public school's referral to placement process (Arnold & Lassmann, 2003; Eads, Arnold, & Tyler, 1995; Reschly, 1997). Researchers have examined the plight of urban schools and the outcomes for students exiting the system for more than 30 years, and the results continue to be bleak. Osher and Hanley (2001) assert that children and youth with emotional and behavioral problems generally receive inadequate services and achieve poor educational and community outcomes. Furthermore, the roles schools play in producing these poor outcomes include poor instruction, punishment, adult hostility, and curriculum and teaching that focus on controlling their behavior (Osher & Hanley, 2001). In reviewing the research on underachievement in urban settings, Arroyo, Rhoad, and Drew (1999) found the level of parents' education, poverty or low income, and parental expectations and involvement to be among the top variables identified. The No Child Left Behind Act (2001) promises that students with disabilities will achieve at the same levels as other students by having access to the general education curriculum. Will children of color, particularly African American males with EBD, LD, and other learning difficulties, also achieve at the same levels as other students?

According to Landrum, Tankersley, and Kauffman (2003), students with EBD generally earn lower grades, fail more courses, are retained in grade (left back) more often, pass minimum competency tests at lower rates, and have more difficulty adjusting to adult life than do students with other disabilities (Frank, Sitlington, & Carson, 1995 ; Koyangi & Gaines, 1993). It has been estimated that 43% to 56% of students with EBD drop out of school-a rate almost twice that for all students with disabilities (Marder, 1992; Landrum Tankersley, & Kauffman, 2003). …

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