Students who have Emotional or Behavioral Disorders (EBD) are much more likely to drop out of high school than their peers, more than 50% of students with EBD drop out (Chesapeake Institute, 1994 cited within Jolivette, 2000) compared to 30% of all students with disabilities and 24% of all high school students (U.S. Department of Education, 1994; Wagner, 1995 cited within Osher 2003). The challenges that dropouts face often compound their emotional or behavioral issues, creating a problematic cycle, and leading to disadvantages after school in various areas, such post-secondary education, employment opportunities and retention and personal relationships. The article Improving Post-School Outcomes for Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders (Jolivette, 2000) cites a study by Malmgren, Edgar & Neel (1998) that indicates only 28.6% of EBD students finished post-secondary school, compared to 66.9% of students without disabilities. Given that this disability group faces the greatest challenges to success of all of the disability groups, schools and teachers alike need to show leadership in caring about the outcomes of this population.
The article, "Exploring the Relationship Between Student Mobility and Dropout Among Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders" by David Osher (attached below) discusses the many different types and sources of mobility, some of which teachers cannot control. Examples of these types of mobility include: a) family mobility due to economic disadvantage or parental job changes, b) school required mobility due to change of grades, c) non-normative teacher changes, d) student changes between classes or out of school due to behavior problems, suspension, expulsion, e) and many more. The article explores in depth the type of mobility that teachers can impact – mobility related to teacher/student relationships and classroom environment. Table 1: Risk and Protective Factors for Types of Mobility (Osher, pg. 83) provides information about various sources of mobility, such as “student behavior, peer interactions, students transferred to another teacher, student placed in segregated class setting, etc.” and examples of interventions or protective measures, such as “build supports for teacher and student in mainstream classroom,” that might alleviate mobility in these areas (Osher, pg. 83).
How Can Teachers Help Prevent Dropout for the EBD Population?
Teachers can have positive influences on the EBD population, contributing to the likelihood that these students might stay in school and experience academic and social success. Traditional good classroom techniques, such as clear routines and discipline structure, emphasis on positive reinforcement, and community environment will have positive impacts on the EBD students as well as all other students. Teachers can employ instructional strategies, such as peer tutoring, scaffolding material for learning, constructive feedback, direct instruction and progress monitoring to create an environment conducive for learning for the LD population. It is important for teachers to note that students with EBD often times feel like failures academically and socially, and act out with inappropriate behaviors. A negative relationship or dynamic between the teacher and student can only exacerbate the student’s sense of failure. Therefore, teachers need to pay particular attention to fostering a positive relationship with the student built on understanding and trust, rewarding positive behavior and ignoring negative behavior as much as possible. Several behavior prevention and intervention strategies can support teachers in fostering positive relationships and environments for their EBD students – such as Classwide Peer Tutoring (CWPT), The Good Behavior Game, Project REACH, Check and Connect, School Transitional Environment Program (STEP) and many more. The following resource list provides general information for teachers with EBD students, plus information about some of these specific interventions:
For general information on Research-based Interventions for students with EBD:
For more information on Check and Connect, see attachment and:
For more information about Peer Tutoring and Peer Mediated Instruction:
For more information on Discipline and Positive Behavior Supports:
For more information about Project REACH:
The role of the parent in EBD student dropout:
Chesapeake Institute. (1994, September). National agenda for achieving better results for children and youth with serious emotional disturbance. Washington, DC: Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, Office of Special Education Programs. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service Number ED 376 690.) Available for a fee through the ERIC Document Reproduction Service (EDRS) 800.443.3742.
Jolivette, K., Stichter, J.P., Nelson, C.M., Scott, T.M., & Liaupsin, C.J. (2000). Improving Post-School Outcomes for Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders. ERIC Clearinghouse on Disabilities and Gifted Education Arlington VA.
Osher, D., Morrison, G, & Bailey, W (2003). Exploring the Relationship between Student Mobility and Dropout among Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders. The Journal of Negro Education, 72 (1), 79 - 96.
U.S. Department of Education (1994). National agenda for achieving better results for children and youth with serious emotional disturbance. Washington, DC: Author.
Wagner, M. (1991). Outcomes for youths with serious emotional disturbance in secondary school and early adulthood. The Future of Children: Critical Issues for Children and Youths, 5(4), 90 - 112.
italic textNote: This page was contributed by Allison Aboud