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Special Education for Students with Emotional or Behavioral Disorders? Essay

Landrum, Tankersley, and Kauffman (2003) examine the topic of special education interventions for emotional or behavioral disorders (EBD). The authors contend that the main purpose of the article is to examine the extent to which the field of special education has developed effective practices for three contexts –inappropriate behavior, academic learning problems, and ineffectual interpersonal relationships.

The authors’ posit three research questions that explicitly address their thesis. This article is an attempt to determine what interventions offer the most promise for students with EBD and the extent to which these interventions are implemented in schools. Overall, the authors attempt to determine whether or not special education with EBD is really special (effective).

Although the theoretical assumptions are not explicitly illuminated by the authors, several do present themselves: (a) successful interventions for students with EBS must be built on behavioral foundations; (b) academic interventions must target effective instruction and learning strategies that enhance a student’s ability to attend to instruction, retain information, and apply knowledge in appropriate contexts; and (c)social skills interventions must be based on carefully and individually targeted behaviors.

The authors’ work present several different types of materials such as peer reviewed articles and longitudinal studies. They use these materials to demonstrate and argue that teaching special education students with EBD demands unique interventions that are beyond interventions designed for general education students. Although the authors briefly mention the frequencies in which interventions are implemented into the classroom, they fail to establish a clear connection between the interventions that they identified as effective and their implementation frequency.

Also, the authors present an alternative argument not previously mentioned in their research questions when they attempt to illuminate the conception of intervention timeliness in additions to their position on intervention fidelity. Interestingly, the authors posit that special education for students with EBD is indeed special beyond the general classroom and can become more effective with behavioral and instructional interventions that are implemented early, frequent, and with integrity.

Yet in presenting their argument, the authors illuminate another factor that could possibly be a missing link to their position. They highlight the suggestion that teachers of students with EBD need to be uniquely trained specialist who possess distinctive skills unlike those of general or special education teachers. By exploring this position further, the authors could have created a stronger argument for the selected interventions.

The question begs as to whether special education is truly effective for EBD students because of the choice of interventions or the teacher’s time, effort, and skill to ensure effective implementation of the intervention. Reference Landrum, T. , Tankersley, M. , & Kauffman, J. M. (2003). What Is Special about Special Education for Students with Emotional or Behavioral Disorders? The Journal of Special Education, 37(3), 148-156.


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