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EBD QUALITY PROGRAM INDICATORS
Quality Program Indicators for Children with
Emotional and Behavior Disorders
RICHARD S. NEEL
UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON
K. KAY CESSNA
JEFFERSON COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS
COLORADO DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
SPECIAL EDUCATION DIVISION FOR
pecial education professionals today
find themselves challenged in new
ways as they strive to provide
effective programming for children with
emotional and behavior disorders (EBD)
in public schools. Factors contributing to
this situation include changes in I.D.E.A.,
are questioning the differences in both
trators are questioning what is necessary to
increased use of functional assessments,
rights and the procedures for specialized
provide a quality program for children
schoolwide positive support programs, and
programs and common school discipline,
with EBD. In an effort to shed some light
the ubiquitous concern for school and
leaving parents, teachers and administra-
on programming concerns, this article
community safety. In response, school
tors wanting for specialized instructional
focuses on a set of indicators that Colorado
programs for EBD are undergoing
know-how that applies to a variety of
has been using state-wide over the past
substantial revisions across the nation.
complex school organizations.
several years. The indicators have been
Many states have contributed to this
Many school districts and professional
used to help schools assess their current
boiling cauldron of change by passing
organizations have responded to these
programs, sort through the complexities of
academic performance standards and
changes by launching a series (some would
program implementation, and design
putting statewide assessment systems in
say barrage) of initiatives that address the
professional development opportunities
place. These legislative initiatives typically
various elements of schooling viewed by
that are strategic and individualized to
require schools to increase the content of
some as needing improvement. Teacher
various program and staff needs. These
their curricula and improve the effective-
and administrator roles are expanding.
indicators are based on and reflect integra-
ness of their instruction for all children.
Many educators are working to revise
tion of best practices into an assessment
This movement will only be amplified as
curriculum, to ensure compliance with
system that can help educators discover
No Child Left Behind moves into imple-
special education laws, develop schoolwide
current strengths and identify problem
mentation. The revived focus on academic
support systems, and to become effective
areas in need of attention. We view this as
achievement has in many cases been
instructional leaders and building manag-
a work in progress, and offer it here as one
accompanied with a decrease in tolerance
ers. Many educators must wade waist deep
tool to use in program improvement.
for student behaviors that interrupt or
into community and corporate fund
In previous work, we have advocated
threaten the general education process,
raising, while struggling to address an
the need for an expanded curriculum for
creating a need for a more comprehensive
increasingly diverse set of needs and
children with EBD (Neel & Cessna,
approach to individual and collective
behaviors in their schools. It is not
1993). An expanded curriculum should
support for appropriate student behaviors
surprising that widespread understanding
include: (a) relevant academics with
(Sugai & Horner, 1997).
of what it takes to adequately serve
necessary accommodations and modifica-
Finally, many schools have been
children with EBD rarely occurs.
tions to meet the needs of the student; (b)
developing or refining their discipline
Special education teachers, their
formal and informal instruction in what
procedures. General and special educators
principals and special education adminis-
we have called life skills, those skills
S P R I N G 2 0 0 3 3
EBD QUALITY PROGRAM INDICATORS
necessary to negotiate home, school, and
and indirect ways. It is important to have
learned is intentionally taught.
work environments; and (c) direct instruc-
set spaces that reflect positive student
tion in the areas of disability. In the case
outcomes and signal expectations. Differ-
Individuation and Personalization
of children with EBD, the “area of
ent spaces are needed to allow for different
This component reflects the activities
disability” involves teaching social skills
instructional environments. Some are
that are used to individualize and internal-
formally, followed by intentional processes
designed to replicate or approximate the
ize the lessons learned in affective educa-
that help the child personalize and
traditional working spaces of a classroom,
tion. Some programs call this processing
internalize the lessons s/he has learned in
while others are designed to facilitate the
or “working through” a situation. In some
the more formal settings (see Adams &
social and emotional instruction that helps
cases this might involve an intervention in
Cessna, 1993, for a more detailed treat-
children with EBD learn necessary
response to a crisis, in other situations it
ment of these curricular areas).
management and social interaction skills.
might involve planned cognitive restruc-
The expanded curriculum model
Still others are necessary to provide safety,
turing or similar approaches, applied at the
served as the basis for the development of
support, and control.
teachable moment, that help an individual
the Quality Program Indicators model
child take responsibility for his or her
described in this article. Three core areas
actions and generate acceptable solutions
were expanded to include the support and
Effective behavior management
to the problems involved.
structures needed to provide effective
systems focus on supervision rather than
programs and refine the descriptions of the
total control and involves specialized
content and curricular areas. For example,
instruction around students’ social needs.
Engaging, quality academic instruc-
teaching social skills to students with EBD
This section assesses individual, classroom,
tion is another critical element of an
is an important element of the direct
and schoolwide systems that teach and
effective program. This element assesses
instruction component in an expanded
encourage appropriate behavior. Effective
the breadth of the curricular offerings, the
curriculum. However, the complex nature
behavior management includes clear rules
degree to which they reflect essential
of social competence and social skills
and routines, an integrated system of
understandings and skills needed to
instruction led us to develop the Quality
discipline that is coordinated with the
operate successfully in post-school environ-
Program Indicator, “Affective Education.”
whole school system, specific modifications
ments, as well as the quality of instruction
that address individual needs, and crisis
provided. The extent to which the
Quality Program Indicators
plans to minimize the negative effect of
academic instruction reflects the general
problem events. Attention is given to
education curriculum and aids students’
The EBD Program Indicators include
content as well as structure. Focus is
access to it is also examined. The number
six elements of effective programming.
placed on assessing how well the manage-
and types of accommodations and
Each area is treated separately, although in
ment system helps children take responsi-
modifications provided is another major
practice they form an interactive whole.
bility for their behavior and involves
area in this section. A final area examined
Each area is briefly described, followed by
significant others (parents, principals,
in the academic section is the systems and
a discussion of some issues that impact
teachers) in supporting the teaching and
structures available to help maintain
each area, and suggestions for how teachers
learning that goes on in the classroom.
students in least restrictive environments.
and administrators might use them to
develop new programs and/or improve
Career/Life Skills Transitions
This area includes programs designed
The final section of the Quality
to provide information and experiences
Indicators focuses on the connection
that will help children with EBD learn
between what is taught in classes and what
appropriate social skills, individual and
is needed for life outside of school. That is,
Individuation and personalization
collective expectations, and strategies used
careful attention to the link between the
to “read” situations, develop action plans,
skills a student gains in his/her school
and evaluate interactions. We chose the
experience and application of those skills
term “affective education” to signal a more
in the nonacademic settings is reviewed for
comprehensive approach than formal social
every grade. At the elementary level,
Each type of setting is assessed in the
skills training, although such instruction is
applications of learning to current and
Environmental Management section in
a critical part of affective education.
future real-life situations are stressed. By
terms of classroom organization, adequacy
Affective education provides information
middle school, exploration of future goals
of resources, physical space and layout,
about personal and relationship successes
and possible differentiation to meet
emotional climate, scheduling, and
and pitfalls. Curricula are taught both
varying abilities and interests is included.
communication systems. For example, the
formally and informally and content is
In high school, more formal vocational
physical layout of a school and classroom
based upon the needs of the students.
instruction and individual transition plans
can impact program success in both direct
Generalization and maintenance of skills
are assessed with special emphasis placed
4 B E Y O N D B E H A V I O R
EBD QUALITY PROGRAM INDICATORS
on providing instruction in the settings
behavior that is not being adequately
Each element should be considered as a
where the skills will be needed.
addressed through affective education and
connection to the content of other
individualization of replacement behaviors
programs. The outcomes of most pro-
Using the Indicators
and alternate strategies. Additionally,
grams will be remarkably similar to those
relevant academics, presented in innovative
embedded within the indicators. The
The Quality Program Indicators
and engaging ways, is critical to a good
intent of the indicators is to help reconcile
outlined in this article can act as a
program. Without them frustration and
the outcomes for all children and integrate
roadmap for applying current best
boredom often lead to behavior difficulties
instructional efforts to produce the
practices to a variety of delivery options.
that sidetrack a well-conceived program.
maximum gain for everyone.
Careful attention to each element, along
Career planning and the development of
with thoughtful integration of these
critical life skills in authentic environ-
elements into an effective whole, will
ments, although often added last, are
A sad, but frequently true dynamic of
enable EBD programs to continue to
essential to adequate adult adjustment (See
organizations is that as pressure for
improve. Each component embodies a
Neel, Meadows, Levine, & Edgar, 1988).
increased performance mounts, the key
critical element of good programming.
Having offered a potential sequence, it
stakeholders often have heightened
The expression of each element will differ
is important to emphasize that other
difficulty communicating clearly and well.
from program to program, but no element
sequences could be equally effective. The
Schools are not different from other
can be absent or ignored if children with
Quality Program Indicators are flexible and
organizations in this regard. The very
EBD are to be adequately served.
should be considered a “working tool” for
group of people who must work together if
Students’ needs should dictate the
program evaluation. If one or more areas
students with EBD are to be successful
design and location of the instruction
are of immediate concern, priortize based
often have difficulty agreeing on areas of
provided. The indicators do not depend
on the intensity of student, teacher, and/or
concern and identifying best strategies to
upon a particular delivery model. They
environmental needs. Remember, how-
address them. In Colorado, principals,
can be used in all types of settings and with
ever, the interactivity of the various
special education teachers, special educa-
a variety of instructional practices. Their
elements and the impact that changes in
tion administrators and parents have found
most important use is to serve as a means
one area may have on the others. You can
the indicators to be helpful in establishing
for educators to determine if all potential
use them to scale up from an immediate
a common language when discussing
needs of a student have been addressed and
problem to a more systematic examination
specific areas of programming to be
the necessary degree of specialized instruc-
of all the elements, how they interact, and
expanded or improved without being
tion has been provided.
which might contribute to the current
prescriptive or blaming. The Quality
concern and its probable solutions.
Program Indicators may be an effective
Order of Implementation
means for ensuring that our combined
It is rare that a program has the luxury
efforts are cohesive and on target.
to plan, develop, and implement all the
Quality programs for children with
elements at once. Most programs already
EBD do not exist in a vacuum. Promising
exist or are being created as works in
efforts in all-school positive behavior
Adams, L., & Cessna, K.K. (1993). The
progress. Given that in most programs
support programs have emerged in the past
expanded curriculum: Individualizing
several areas are either undeveloped or
several years (Sugai & Horner, 1997). The
the system. Instructionally Differentiated
underdeveloped, a decision must be made
attention to accountability through
Programming. Colorado Department of
as to the order in which the elements
statewide initiatives and comprehensive
should be addressed. There is no one
assessments has also helped scale up the
Neel, R.S., & Cessna, K.K. (1993).
answer. However, our experiences have led
problem of providing an effective educa-
Instructional themes: A pragmatic
us to suspect that in a majority of cases, it
tion for children with EBD from the
response to complexity. Instructionally
is wise to begin with a functional and safe
individual child and her/his classroom to
Differentiated Programming, Colorado
environment and a clearly articulated
the whole school, and in some cases the
Department of Education, 41-50.
behavior management program. Academ-
community at large. As the focus expands
Neel, R.S., Meadows, N.B., Levine, P., &
ics, affective education, and individualiza-
to larger units of school organization, the
Edgar, E.G. (1988). What happens after
tion and personalization seem to be
complexity of the problems and their
special education: A statewide follow-up
parallel concerns that could be addressed
potential solutions also expands.
study of secondary students who have
in tandem. A word of caution, if these
The indicators should help practitio-
behavioral disorders. Behavioral
three areas are underdeveloped they often
ners integrate programs for children with
Disorders, 13(3), 209-216.
contribute to problems that render
EBD into the larger school environments.
Sugai, G., & Horner, R.H. (1997).
behavior management ineffective. Far too
They complement, rather than replace,
Discipline and behavioral support:
frequently, a child is removed from a less
other programs designed to promote
Preferred processes and practices.
restrictive environment due to difficult
positive social and academic climates.
Effective School Practices, 17(4), 10-22.
S P R I N G 2 0 0 3 5
EBD QUALITY PROGRAM INDICATORS
Quality Program Indicators
I. Environmental Management: The systematic use of resources, physical factors and organizational and communication
schema to structure students’ total environment for the purpose of providing necessary support and control
A. Classroom organization and management support of functional behaviors.
There are predictable class routines.
Transitions are accomplished smoothly and efficiently.
Exemplars of good student work are displayed in the room.
Visual cues for good practice of procedures are displayed in the room. An organizational system is evident for making assignments.
B. Resources are adequate, appropriate personnel with expertise in instruction, behavior and emotional needs are adequate and appropriate for program
Personnel are available to maintain group instruction, provide emotional support and behavioral management to individuals as needed without
undue interference of group or classroom instruction.
A variety of materials representing a range of ability levels have been selected for content subjects, basic skills and affective purposes.
C. Physical space/layout is used intentionally to support students’ emotional/behavioral needs.
Physical space that is free from distracting stimuli is readily available.
Students can remove themselves to a private space for personal regrouping.
There is physical space where students can be contained for their own or others’ safety.
Seating is arranged preferentially for proximity control.
The teacher has easy visual access to students in the classroom at all times.
The teacher is physically accessible to the students
D. The emotional climate is safe as demonstrated by students’ willingness to initiate interactions or ask questions.
Interactions between student and teacher are genuine.
Students feel free to seek the teacher for support and problem solving at nonscheduled time.
Humor is used effectively to maintain perspective and create a safe, emotional climate.
E. Scheduling is done intentionally to support students’ emotional/behavioral needs.
A person who has expertise in the child’s area of need has planning responsibilities and ongoing contact with the student
Schedules are arranged to structure students for success, such as scheduling for content, teachers who work best with student, and students’
optimum functioning patterns.
Schedules are arranged to avoid problematic times and places.
F. Communication systems facilitate support for the student in the total environment.
There is a designated case manager to facilitate support for the student in the total environment.
Effective communication systems exist between special and regular education staff to facilitate support for the student.
Effective communication systems exist between special education staff and parents to facilitate support for the student.
Effective communication systems exist with other agencies to facilitate support for the student.
Case managers advocate for students in all environments.
II. Behavior Management: Systems, including classroom management, individual management, school rules and crisis
management systems to assist the student in obtaining and maintaining prerequisite behaviors for learning and to assume
increasing responsibility for his/her own behavior
A. Systems for classroom management facilitate appropriate behaviors.
Rules and expectations are explicit.
6 B E Y O N D B E H A V I O R
EBD QUALITY PROGRAM INDICATORS
Rules are stated positively.
Some variances of behaviors are allowed based on individual level of internal control to meet rules and behavior expectations.
B. Procedures and modifications are utilized to assist students in following the school and/or bus rules.
There is a system of rewards for desired behavior.
There are options for reinforcement.
Rewards are realistically attainable.
The consequences for students’ behavior choices are clearly stated. Consequences are consistently applied.
Consequences are logical and based on the severity of behavior.
The system is written.
C. Management systems are in place for atypical and crisis situations.
Management procedures are designed for atypical situations.
Personnel involved in atypical management procedures are identified and their roles described.
D. There is a system for individual behavior management to facilitate appropriate behavior.
Systematic means are available to address problem behaviors that are individual to the student.
Students help set own behavior goals.
Students are involved in monitoring own behavior.
The teacher modifies ineffective individual behavior plans to structure for success.
E. Behavioral intervention or interactions are utilized to encourage students to be more responsible for their behavior.
The teacher is aware of and uses nonverbal cues.
The teacher uses nonverbal strategies to redirect problem behavior.
Problem-solving strategies are used to encourage responsibility.
The teacher offers behavioral choices to encourage responsibility.
F. Behavior management systems involve key persons in the student’s environment.
Parents are included in behavior management systems.
The principal’s involvement in total behavior management system is planned for.
Principal involvement is not limited to negative interactions.
Involvement of significant others in behavior management systems is clearly articulated.
III. Affective Education: Systematic instruction, the primary purpose of which is to help students acquire information, attitudes
and skills that will encourage appropriate behavior and mental health
A. Students are systematically provided with information and skills regarding behavior.
Direct instructions scheduled with regard to:
Specific content (classes, units, a specific time)
Integrated with academic instruction
As situations arise, they are pointed out as exemplars of content that was formally taught.
B. Affective education covers personal, relationship and life skills.
Content is comprehensive.
There is content about the individual, which includes the individual:
Feelings (identification and appropriate expression)
Personal awareness (knowledge of self, monitoring self)
Communication (active listening, assertiveness, expressing empathy)
Problem solving (negotiation, conflict)
S P R I N G 2 0 0 3 7
EBD QUALITY PROGRAM INDICATORS
Groups and systems
Lifestyle choices (drugs, risk-taking, street law, suicide)
C. Curriculum is selected on the basis of individual students’ needs.
Student emotional/behavioral needs are/is used to determine content.
Student input is sought.
A well-articulated system is in place for utilizing individual students’ needs and input to determine general group needs and prioritize topics for
the affective curriculum.
D. Good instructional practices are employed to teach affective education.
Elements of good instruction are evident.
Skills are taught interactively with high student involvement.
E. Transference and maintenance of skills is systematically planned and taught.
IV. Individuation and Personalization: Systematic assistance and support for which the primary purpose is to help the student
with personalization and internalization of information about alternative ways to behaving and viewing ones beliefs, oneself
and the world.
A. Students are systematically assisted in internalizing and personalizing new affective information and behavior skills.
A system is in place for responding to emotional crisis.
Formal (planned) systems are present to help students internalize and personalize, and are based on their experience.
Informal systems are also available. As situations arise, they are used to assist students in internalizing and personalizing information and skills
that were formally taught and may be applicable to a given situation.
B. Good teaching/counseling strategies are employed to assist student in personalizing and internalizing information.
Good processing strategies are evident.
Student is involved interactively in the process.
Questions and comments acknowledge the student as a valued individual.
Interaction is nonjudgmental.
Students’ feelings are validated.
V. Academic: Systems that promote academic growth utilizing various techniques or curricula that is appropriate to the
student’s individual learning needs.
A. A comprehensive academic curriculum is available for the student.
Essential/critical skills in reading, math, language arts, and communication (writing).
Content subjects: social studies, science, history, etc.
Fine and practical arts: music, art, PE, vocational education, etc.
Core concepts are taught that aid access to the general education curriculum.
Application of information and skills to post-school environments is intentionally taught.
B. Modifications/alternatives to the regular curriculum are provided when needed.
Alternate curricula are used to reteach information in different ways in order to ensure mastery of previously taught critical concepts and ideas.
Independent studies are used to allow the student to work on regular curriculum and related topics of personal interest at own pace.
8 B E Y O N D B E H A V I O R
EBD QUALITY PROGRAM INDICATORS
Alternative curriculum is used to provide the student with a different, parallel curriculum that better meets his/her cognitive and affective needs
(i.e., script writing for role-plays instead of essay writing).
C. Systems/structures accommodations are used to help maintain students in the least restrictive environment.
Modified schedules are used to better match student needs with appropriate teachers, time, or content.
Co-teaching is used to increase the number of instructional approaches available to students.
Modified requirements are used to structure the system for student success.
Alternatives to regular evaluation procedures are used to measure student progress and performance, such as modified grading, narrative records
of performance, or use of IEP objectives as measurable outcomes.
D. Effective instruction is provided.
Instruction is delivered in a manner that increases the potential for student success.
Instructional strategies are used to decrease students’ frustration level and help students achieve maximum success.
Instructional strategies are used to increase students’ motivation level and help students achieve maximum success.
Different learning approaches are accommodated.
Instruction incorporates real-life experiences.
VI. Career/Life Skills/Transitions: Systems that develop skills necessary for productive, meaningful life outside of school. These
systems provide the link between the skills a student gains in his/her school experience and application of those skills in the
A. Students are systematically provided with information/skills necessary for life outside of school.
There is direct instruction with specific content regarding life outside of school.
Instruction of life skills is integrated with academics.
Informal instruction in life skills occurs by referencing content that was formally taught when situations arise.
B. Curriculum is appropriate in content, level, scope and developmental sequence.
Career-vocational subjects are addressed.
Awareness: Elementary - Content includes discovery of why people work and the variety of occupations available.
Exploration: Middle School - Content includes exploring the variety of careers that will best meet individual abilities and interests.
Preparation: High School - Content includes preparation for an occupation in the areas of socialization, communication skills, job procurement and
retention kills and financial management skills.
Living skills are implemented to prepare students to function appropriately in domestic, recreational and community life.
Leisure, money skills
Housing, phone skills
C. Effective instruction is demonstrated.
The link is intentional between knowledge and skills taught inside school and application to outside life.
An experimental approach is utilized by providing concrete experiences.
Students are taught skills in the settings in which they will be needed.
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