Reintegrating students with emotional and behavioral disorders from alternative school settings to the mainstream school environment presents significant challenges. Students are frequently unsuccessful when they return to home districts.
Most researchers address the problem in a variable-centric manner, and explore specific student, teacher, and system attributes that lead to failure. Research needs to focus on the overall process of reintegration and the interactions that create conditions for success or failure.
This study analyzed the perspectives of students, mainstream and special education teachers, administrators, peers, and parents when six middle and high school students with emotional and behavioral disorders moved from self-contained settings to placements in the mainstream environment of two Midwestern suburban school districts. Data were collected over one school year using semi-structured interviews, as well as student records and observations. Data were analyzed utilizing inductive case study and grounded theory methods.
Four major findings emerged from the data. First, the desire of students to fit in influenced their use of the important skills of self-advocacy and self-regulation. Second, having and seeking out an understanding of the student's disability influenced the provision of support to students. Third, parents used advocacy to increase systemic understanding of the student's disability. Finally, attributes of communication within the system and a lack of understanding of student disability created a problematic reliance on student self-advocacy.
These findings suggest school policy and practice should be directed toward improving educators' understanding of student disability, supporting parental advocacy, and increasing the use of self-advocacy in the classroom for students with emotional and behavioral disorders.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. July 2011. Major: Social Work. Advisor: Dr. Elizabeth Lightfoot. 1 computer file (PDF); xi, 214 pages, appendices A-H.
Creating opportunities for all: a qualitative study of the reintegration of students with emotional/behavioral disorders to the mainstream environment..
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