CENTER FOR ADOLESCENT RESEARCH IN SCHOOLS
CARS Supplemental Study:
Emotional and Behavioral Disorders in Secondary Education
Current Challenges Examined Across Federal, State, and Local Levels
As has been frequently noted, school personnel across all positions continue to wrestle with how to best meet the needs of students with EBD. Since the implementation of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975, schools have sought to directly address the educational needs of students with EBD within the special education system. Yet in the almost thirty-five years since this implementation, there is little consensus as to what actually constitutes EBD, which impacts the lack of agreement among researchers, educators, and clinical practitioners regarding proper assessment and classification. Since both definition and assessment remain under scrutiny and debate, it is not surprising that empirical research related to effectively serving students with EBD is sorely lacking. While the debates continue to circulate in the halls of policy and academia, educators and clinicians remain at a loss for how to best serve their students. In some respects, schools are caught in a double-bind: although schools do not have clear evidence-based guidelines and best-practices needed to assess and serve students with EBD, they are nonetheless required by law to provide these students with a “free and appropriate education” (FAPE).
Important questions being explored to enhance an understanding of current and “best practice” methods and procedures for making placement decisions for students with EBD:
- What are the procedures for determining the eligibility of a child for special education under the classification of emotional and behavioral disorders?
- What do the federal guidelines dictate and how have states modified or clarified these procedures?
- What are the procedures for determining the placement of a child who is eligible for special education under the classification of emotional and behavioral disorders?
- Given the costs and concerns related to placements in restrictive educational settings; how are decisions to be made regarding restrictive placements according to federal and state policies and what information is available in the professional literature clarifying this decision making process?