Toward a common mythology of placement of students with emotional or behavioral disorders
Hallenbeck, Betty A, Department of Education, University of Virginia
Kauffman, James, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Hallihan, Daniel, Department of Curriculum, Instruction & Special Education, University of Virginia
Kneedler, Rebecca, Department of Curriculum, Instruction & Special Education, University of Virginia
The purpose of this study was to reveal the beliefs of professionals regarding the educational placement of students with emotional or behavioral disorders. This study was guided by two research questions: (a) Do professionals involved in changing educational placements of students with emotional or behavioral disorders (EBD) have a common set of beliefs regarding the placement change process? (b) How do professionals' beliefs compare to legal and best practice guidelines for making placement decisions?
Using naturalistic inquiry (Lincoln & Guba, 1985), I collected data from 13 participants using rating scales, interviews, and responses to vignettes. Participants included teacher education students, teacher educators, current teachers, administrators and school psychologists representing both special and general education. Using the constant comparative method, I documented the beliefs of these professionals about the educational placement of students with emotional or behavioral disorders.
I found that professionals' beliefs regarding the educational placement of students with EBD are more different than they are similar. Only one belief, that a student who presents a danger to self or others requires movement to a more restrictive educational setting, was held by all participants in this study. Most participants also believed that the process of transition between placements should be a gradual one, that parents should be educated by professionals about the process, and that issues surrounding placement changes are complex.
Findings suggest that many aspects of the placement process are vague or undergoing transition at this time. Participants were unclear about the criteria needed before a student should be moved to a less restrictive setting, the importance of academic success when making a placement decision for a student with EBD, the relative weight that should be given to contributions by placement team members, and the speed at which students should be moved to a less restrictive setting.
I compared these findings to the limited body of research on this topic, looking for relationships between professionals' beliefs and best-practice guidelines. Finally, I offered suggestions for continued study of this critically important topic.
PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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