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Pearce, L. R. (2009). Helping children with emotional difficulties: A response to intervention investigation. The Rural Educator, 30(2), 34-46. Helping Children with Emotional Difficulties: A Response to Intervention
Lee R. Pearce

This article describes a Response to Intervention (RTI) model of service delivery implemented within a rural elementary
school for students in kindergarten through fifth grade experiencing significant emotional and behavioral difficulties. A
multi-tiered model is presented that includes school wide interventions in Tier 1, as well as a six separate interventions
applied within Tier 2 and Tier 3. These included applied behavioral analysis, social skills training, counseling, differentiated
instruction, cognitive behavioral interventions and parent involvement designed to assist identified students with improving
prosocial skills. Nine children were treated within this program model over a two year period, resulting in two students
being placed in special education under the category of emotional disturbance by the project’s termination. Positive and
negative aspects of the project’s implementation are reviewed, along with directions for future research.

The challenge of meeting the educational needs of
special education teachers due to low salaries, limited children exhibiting severe emotional and behavioral resources, geographic isolation and a paucity of funds and problems has been well documented within the research time for ongoing staff development. In addition, Miller, literature (Gresham, 2005; Simpson, 2004; Harris-Murri, Brownell and Smith (1999) indicated there is some evidence King, & Rostenberg, 2006). These issues appear that Special Education teachers who are inadequately particularly problematic within the rural educational setting prepared are more likely to leave teaching for alternative (Murray, 2005). A Response to Intervention (RTI) model employment. This lack of highly qualified staff directly can provide a methodology to assist this population in being affects the rural school’s ability to meet the demands of No successful within the academic environment. While the Child Left Behind, including their accountability for student majority of research to date has involved the application of growth academically and behaviorally (Nagle, Hernandez, RTI models to the treatment and identification of learning Embler, Mclaughlin & Doh, 2006). Hughes and Adera disabilities (Fletcher, Francis, Morris & Lyon, 2005; (2006) suggested these issues are exacerbated when Kavale, Holdnack & Mostert, 2005; Marston, 2005), others considering service provision for students with emotional have indicated the appropriateness of this process to the disabilities. In addition, researchers have identified factors treatment of behavioral and emotional challenges many that impact the threat of litigation regarding the delivery of students face (Batsche, Elliot, Graden, Grimes, Kavaleski, special education services in rural areas (Scheffel, Rude, & Prasse, et al, 2005; Reschly, 2006; Gresham, 2005). This Bole, 2005) and specifically to the provision of services for program evaluation describes the implementation of a RTI students experiencing emotional disabilities (Murray, 2005). model, within the framework of positive behavioral These factors include staff expertise in dealing effectively supports, in helping children in kindergarten through fifth with children with emotional disabilities and the ability to grade who experience challenging behavior that adversely communicate compassionately and effectively with parents of children experiencing these challenges. Finally, Several barriers to the provision of special education Thornton, Hill & Usinger (2006) suggested rural schools services within rural areas have been enumerated in the struggle with a lack of integrated, systemic approaches research literature including recruitment and retention of when considering ways to improve the adequate yearly highly qualified teachers, meeting the demands of No Child progress of students as mandated by No Child Left Behind. Left Behind and the threat of litigation regarding service Rural schools tended to deal with isolated subgroups (e.g., delivery methods. These barriers have issues in common. special education or minority students not making adequate Kossar, Mitchem, and Ludlow (2005) reported rural schools yearly progress in math) rather than tackling the more face problems recruiting and retaining highly qualified difficult system challenges that may result in school failure (e.g., shortcomings of the core curricula or instructional practices of the general educator). Likewise, Murray (2005) identified the need to look outside traditional operations, South Dakota, the state in which this study was conducted, programs and practices to successfully meet the needs of ranks 16th in land area and 46th in population with only students with emotional disabilities, indicating a need for 781,919 citizens accounting for approximately 0.3% of the schools to address comprehensive changes at the systemic U.S. total (U.S. Census, 2006). The educational cooperative level to ensure educational progress for all students. RTI providing a variety of related services (e.g., speech and processes focusing on the needs of students with learning language, psychological, physical therapy, occupational and emotional disabilities show promise in addressing many therapy) to the thirteen schools within this region of South of these identified issues (Gresham, 2005; Batsche et al, Dakota serves one of the least populated areas in the United States. The concept of rural may not provide an adequate RTI involves continuous performance monitoring for description of this area. Perhaps the concepts of remote or purposes of early identification and early intervention for frontier offer a truer picture of this geographical region. students exhibiting problem behavior within their schools The Office of Rural Health Policy Resources and Services (Jimerson, Burns, and VanDerHeyden, 2007). Further, RTI Administration within the Department of Health and Human involves the implementation of a multi-tiered model and Services (1998) designated areas with population density mandates the use of research based interventions to assist under twelve people per square mile as “frontier.” Consider students in being successful within their academic setting that approximately 60,000 people occupy this large (Batsche, et al, 2006; Compton, Fuchs, Fuchs, & Bryant, landmass (approximately 11,250 square miles), resulting in 2006; Fuchs & Fuchs, 2006). In addition, Fuchs and Fuchs a population density of just over 5 people per square mile. (2005) described two RTI models: (a) the problem solving Issues pertaining to the provision of Special Education model promulgated by practitioners and, (b) the standard services within rural areas are certainly applicable to this protocol model advanced by researchers. The problem solving model follows an assessment, planning, Approximately 350 students attended each of the two implementation, evaluation and redesigning format. By its elementary schools involved in the program. There were very nature, interventions may vary across students, five kindergarten teachers and corresponding classrooms, as classrooms and grades. Standard protocol models, on the well as six teachers in each of the other grades. There were other hand, embody the implementation of standard 15-18 students placed in each classroom. Nine tenured interventions for specified periods of time and designed for teachers participated in the study having taught at least four specific problems (e.g., reading or math disability). In both years within the school district. Six of the teachers held models, assessment of student progress drives movement bachelor’s degrees in elementary education; two of the from one tier of intervention to the next. Given the variable teachers had bachelor’s degrees in elementary education and nature of social and emotional difficulties, staff expertise, special education; while one held a master’s degree in classroom environments, social settings, and ease of education. The teachers were identified for inclusion within implementation of individual strategies the problem solving the study based on having the children of concern placed model would appear to be the most applicable to the treatment of emotional disabilities (Fairbanks, Sugai, Guardino and Lathrop, 2007). This was the model utilized Nine students were involved in this program during the Methodology
two years of its implementation. Table 1 provides descriptions of each student’s problem behaviors, diagnoses before or during the program implementation (if available), grades in school during the project, measures of general The purpose of the study was to evaluate the intelligence, and prescribed medications taken during the implementation of an RTI model in the treatment and course of the study. These students were identified as identification of students in kindergarten through fifth grade needing support due to significant emotional and behavioral who experienced significant emotional and behavioral problems manifested within the school setting. At the time problems within a rural school setting. The program was of referral to the program, parents provided permission for implemented during two successive academic years (2004- their child’s involvement in the supports and interventions 2005; 2005-2006), within two elementary schools in a rural community in an upper plains state. One school served children from kindergarten through second grade, while the other school served children in grades three through five. When implementing effective RTI models, a core team of educational professionals must take responsibility for program implementation and evaluation (Jimerson, Burns, tier of the RTI program, (b) what interventions were and VanDerHeyden, 2007). Within the context of the RTI implemented and at what point in time, (c) evaluation of effort described here, this team consisted of the building child progress to determine if additional interventions were level principal, classroom teacher of the student exhibiting necessary or if interventions could be faded out, (d) overall challenging behavior, school counselor, school psychologist, program evaluation to ensure the welfare of the identified special education teacher, teacher aides and parent(s) of the student, as well as their peers, and (e) determination of when identified student. This team was responsible for referral for special education evaluation occurred.
determining (a) what students were referred into the second

Table 1
Participant Profiles, including diagnosis and medication
tolerance, theft, running away from classroom Students 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8 & 9 had average intelligence; Students 2 & 6 had low average intelligence. Intelligence was measured by the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children - Third Edition or the Wechsler Intelligence Scales for Children – Fourth Edition. Tiers of Intervention within the RTI Model continuation of interventions utilized within Tier 2), supports from mental health systems outside the school Tier 1 Interventions. The RTI model implemented in this and/or placement in alternative educational settings (Lane, effort to assist students with emotional and behavioral challenges had three tiers of intervention. Tier 1 interventions involved classroom and building level Interventions Utilized Within the RTI Model approaches designed to promote positive behavior throughout the entire student population. Teachers within The interventions utilized within Tier 2 and Tier 3 of this this program utilized Assertive Discipline as described by study are described below. Many of these interventions were Canter and Canter (1992). This program assisted the teacher consistent with the Individuals with Disability Education in identifying classroom rules (i.e., 4-6) that were designed Act of 2004 regarding the use of functional behavior to guide expectations for classroom behavior. In addition, a assessments, positive behavior supports and the hierarchy of negative consequences (i.e., 3-5) were development of behavior intervention plans for students identified and applied at the occurrence of maladaptive whose behavioral or emotional status was compromising behavior from the students. Many teachers utilized a “name their ability to benefit from their educational program on the board” system with color coded markers that (IDEA, 2004). These interventions have been shown to be identified increasing levels of behavioral inappropriateness. effective in supporting behavior change for at-risk students. Finally, a system of rewards (e.g., class parties, weekly free Applied Behavior Analysis. Interventions within this time) for appropriate behavior was implemented within the domain included applications of reinforcement programs to classrooms to encourage prosocial behavior. In addition, the increase behaviors (i.e., including the use of token school also implemented Character Counts (2001), a economies and differential reinforcement procedures); use program that emphasizes the development of six character of time out or work away programs to interrupt and redirect traits including trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, maladaptive behavior; and the application of antecedent fairness, caring and citizenship. Children were identified by control strategies to set the stage for certain behaviors to teacher nomination as “model citizens” for exhibiting the occur (Alberto & Troutman, 2006). Reinforcement traits noted above and received public praise and feedback programs designed to promote positive behavior were regarding their accomplishments. Finally, Tier 1 developed to provide high rate (i.e., continuous) interventions included individual disciplinary processes feedback/reward initially, while this feedback was then implemented by the building level principals. These faded to fixed interval schedules of reinforcement. Fixed included talking to the child regarding their misbehavior, interval schedules appeared to be easier for staff to manage contacting parents, and the removal of privileges (e.g., (i.e., as opposed to fixed ratio schedules). Work away programs were designed to provide a quiet setting for Tier 2 Interventions. Tier 2 interventions within this model children to access in order to regain behavioral or emotional involved the application of one or more of the interventions control when their behavior became disruptive. At times, noted below. The application of these interventions was this area was within the classroom, while areas within the determined as a result of hypotheses generated from special education resource room were also designated for functional behavioral assessments (Gresham, Watson, & this purpose. The time intervals for these procedures ranged Skinner, 2001; Ervin, Ehrhardt, & Poling, 2001). Following from 10-30 minutes. Environmental restructuring programs, these assessments, the intervention team met and brain- as part of antecedent control strategies, were implemented to stormed possible strategies that would assist the student in redesign environments so children were less likely to engage being successful based upon identified problem behavior in negative behavior and more likely to engage in pro-social and potential behavioral deficits. These interventions behavior. These approaches involved changing of (a) included strategies from applied behavioral analysis, physical aspects of the classroom (e.g., position of cognitive behavioral interventions, social skills training, whiteboard relative to targeted child; location of learning counseling, differentiated instructional practices and parent centers or individual work centers); (b) seating of various involvement. In addition, a method of application and students near (or away from) each other; and (c) increased withdrawal of these interventions followed a format outlined supervision by staff during unstructured times (e.g., lunch, by Barnett, Daly, Jones and Lentz (2004). An intervention recess). The application of aversive stimuli or negative was implemented and student adjustment continued to be sanctions (apart from brief time out/work away intervals) monitored. If the student’s behavior did not improve to the was not utilized within this model. Much of the current point of acceptance by the intervention team, additional research in this area can be found in the Positive Behavior interventions were initiated. Once behavioral control was Supports and functional behavioral analyses literature ( established, interventions were faded. Kern, Hilt, & Gresham, 2004; Strichter, Hudson, & Sasso, Tier 3 Interventions. Tier 3 interventions in this model 2005; Gresham, Watson & Skinner, 2001; Sterling-Turner, included support made available as a result of being placed Robinson & Wilczynski, 2001; Burnhill, 2005; Killu, within the Special Education program (which included the Weber, Derby & Baretto, 2006; Stormont, Lewis, & Smith, Differentiated Instructional Approaches. Researchers have documented that academic challenges can create or set Social Skills Training. This intervention method was the stage for manifestation of student behavior problems utilized based on the assumption that many of the students’ (Roberts, Marshall, Nelson & Albers, 2001; Treptow, Burns emotional and behavioral difficulties emanated from their & Comas, 2007). This is exacerbated by many students with inability to successfully negotiate social situations. These emotional and behavioral difficulties having co-existing skill deficits were identified via functional behavioral learning disabilities. As such, it is extremely important to assessment (FBA) completed by the intervention staff. The ensure that academic material is presented at a level and in social skill training sequences were implemented by school such a manner that learning will occur as easily as possible counselors and the intervention team members (e.g., special for this group of students. As Hughes and Adera (2006) education teachers) following training by the school indicated, one of the best deterrents for inappropriate psychologist. Social skill training programs followed behavior within a classroom setting is meaningful and processes outlined in McGinnis and Goldstein (1997) and relevant academic instruction with materials that are aligned Gresham, Van, and Cook (2006). While the training to the student’s instructional level and are emotionally and sequences resembled those outlined in these sources (i.e., intellectually engaging. The use of differentiated instruction including coaching, introduction of the skill, modeling, role provides the basis for this portion of the treatment model. playing and rehearsal, feedback and ongoing assessment of Information contained in Tomlinson (1999) and Tomlinson skill utilization), the amount of time involved in training did and McTighe (2006) provided the structure for these not match the time outlined in Gresham, Van, and Cook processes. The majority (6 of 9) of the students involved in (2006). The students were engaged in initial training this program experienced academic failure. They were sequences where they practiced specific skills (e.g., asking unable to successfully complete work at their respective for help, disengaging in conflict with peers, being assertive grade level. As such, presenting academic material in a way rather than aggressive, asking permission and managing and at a level to ensure success at least 80% of the time angry feelings). Students were involved in 5-10 initial became the goal of this intervention. This involved training sessions that lasted for approximately 30 minutes differentiating content, process and products (Tomlinson, per session. This training occurred within a resource room 1999) to ensure the success rate noted above. Content was outside of the regular classroom setting. Additional social frequently altered to allow the student to engage in the topic, skill training sessions were implemented as the need was but at a level they could comprehend. If the class was identified, after significant behavioral events or when working on double digit addition and the student had not yet identified by intervention staff during weekly staff meetings. mastered single digit addition, his work would reflect that. Use of these strategies was prompted by intervention team Differentiating process focused on the use of manipulatives, members within the general milieu following initial training activity-based instruction, visual representation of material, through such questions as, “Do you remember what you and inquiry based approaches which appeared to be more need to do if you need to ask for help?” Continuous engaging to this population. Differentiated products resulted feedback was provided by intervention team members to the students concerning their progress with use of these Individual and Group Counseling. The role of the school counselor in this model was central to several functions. Cognitive Behavioral Interventions. These interventions First, the counselor was a safe haven for the student included problem solving processes (both written and exhibiting emotional and behavioral challenges. Weekly verbal), self monitoring programs, practicing of skills, self (and crisis intervention) sessions were held to provide the directed speech and feedback from peers and staff regarding student with an opportunity to talk with a supportive adult use of self control strategies. The strategies outlined in and assist the child in understanding the social and academic Bloomquist (1996), Braswell and Bloomquist (1991) and ramifications of their behavior. This provided the counselor Dobson (2001) provided the technical support and guidance an opportunity to continually monitor the student’s for these interventions. These strategies were initially adjustment and emotional status, insight into their introduced to the students following identification of these difficulties, and an opportunity to practice the social and processes as applicable to a particular child following FBA. problem solving skill sequences introduced previously. The training sessions occurred daily until the student Information obtained from these sessions provided the demonstrated mastery. This training occurred within a intervention team with feedback regarding the need for resource room setting outside of the regular classroom. Use additional social skill training sessions or additional sessions of these strategies was again prompted by the intervention in acquiring cognitive behavioral strategies. In grades 3-5, team members within the general milieu following initial group sessions allowed the students additional opportunities training. Continuous feedback was provided by team to practice their social skills and cognitive behavioral members to students regarding progress in the use of these strategies, as well as talk about their adjustment. In addition, the school counselor developed liaisons with other mental health providers working with the children and their families. This allowed information to flow freely from the teacher. Interviews of the general and special education teachers indicated that students referred to Tier 2 Parental Involvement. The primary focus of this portion interventions exhibited behaviors that endangered of the treatment model was on improving communication themselves or others; disruptive behaviors that could not be between the school and the child’s parent or guardians. As redirected; or behaviors that disrupted or interfered with the reported by Marzano (2003), the number one intervention learning of other students. Principals referred these children identified as important to parents was their timely into Tier 2 of the RTI process when they did not respond to notification of child misbehavior. In addition, Gargiulo the Tier 1 interventions, after 4 or more referrals to the (2007) has indicated the process of acceptance of a principal for maladaptive or disruptive behavior. The disability by parents and other family members can be an decision to refer to Tier 2 was jointly determined by the arduous and lengthy ordeal. Involving parents in a principal and classroom teachers. Behaviors which resulted continuous communication process regarding their child’s in these office referrals became the targets of intervention adjustment assisted with this and helped to ensure a and monitoring throughout the RTI process. Once Tier 2 of cooperative partner in the intervention procedures. In the RTI processes was implemented, intervention staff addition, ensuring parents that they are being heard by collected data daily regarding students’ identified school personnel and are an integral part of the intervention team decreased the likelihood of litigation (Scheffel, Rude and Bole, 2005). This was accomplished via daily reports home in a progress notebook, which gave parents timely feedback and allowed them to share adjustment issues at home. Within the RTI model described here, most parents did not have to provide contingencies at home for behaviors Fidelity of Tier 1 interventions was assessed through occurring at school. There were significant concerns about discussions with the building principal and teachers. The fidelity with this practice. The intervention staff did, results indicated variable implementation across classrooms. however, assist parents in learning skills to review daily There appeared to be differences in classroom rules, training progress in school within the problem solving spirit of the of the students on classroom expectations, and interventions used within this model. The focus on implementation of rules and feedback to students. Fidelity discussing problems at home was to (a) demonstrate to the of Tier 2 and Tier 3 interventions were assessed weekly and child that school and home were working together and (b) discussed at the intervention team meetings. A problem raise awareness of the challenges the child was experiencing solving approach to improving implementation of school at school in order to find solutions, not to punish. These based intervention procedures was completed throughout the topics were reviewed with parents at the program’s study and resulted in overall intervention compliance inception, as well as informally when issues arose exceeding 85%. The intervention with the lowest throughout the course of the intervention program. compliance rate (50-85%) was applied behavior analysis School members of the intervention team met weekly in within the individual classrooms. The fidelity of the parent one hour staff meetings in order to review child progress, participation intervention was evaluated by parent self reflect on issues and challenges, and develop additional report only. Parent participation varied across the nine strategies to be used to assist the students. Parents were students, as well as across the two year interval. often included in these meetings either at the request of the school team members or by self referral. The nine graphs of the individual students provide a visual display of their progress throughout the course of the An integral part of RTI is the use of curriculum based RTI implementation. Seven of the nine students’ behavior measures for ongoing assessment of student performance improved substantially as a result of the interventions, while within the core curriculum (Batsche et al, 2005; Fuchs and the behaviors of two of the students were not significantly Fuchs, 2005). While a large body of research exists in the improved during the course of the RTI implementation. areas of reading, Reschly (2006) noted a paucity of research These students were subsequently referred to and placed in in the areas of social and emotional adjustment. special education on the basis of emotional disturbance due Researchers (Fuchs and Fuchs, 2006; Lane, Wehby, to the severity of their behavior. Robertson, and Rogers, 2007) have identified the use of Figure 1 provides the graphs for students 1 and 2. As can behavior rating forms, office referrals and attendance data be noted, behavioral control for student 1 was obtained for these purposes. The students involved in this study were toward to the latter half of the first year, while his behavior identified via office referrals. Students were referred to the accelerated during the first half of the second year. Despite principal’s office for disciplinary reasons after not the implementation of five of the six possible interventions, responding to Tier 1 intervention efforts by the classroom his behavior was viewed as unacceptable for the general classroom during December of the second year. It is Five of the students responded favorably to the significant to note the intervention team referred the student interventions within the RTI model, even though none of the for special education services due to the student’s interventions were able to be faded during the course of the aggression toward peers. Apart from this aggressive program implementation as described in Barnett, Daly, behavior, the student’s progress was considered good. Jones and Lentz (2004). Their progress is displayed in Student 2’s behavior was not substantively improved over the two years despite the implementation of all the The other two students also responded favorably to the interventions. Referral to special education was once again interventions within the RTI model. In addition, these two the result of aggressive behavior toward both peers and staff students were able to maintain positive behavioral adjustment following fading of interventions (Figure 4). Figure 1. Progress graphs for students 1 and 2 for the first two years of the RTI program.
Figure 2. Progress graphs for students 3, 4 and 5 for the first two years of the RTI program.
Figure 3. Progress graphs for students 6 and 7 for the first two years of the RTI program.
In reviewing the figures, several questions arise prosocial behavior. Despite this belief, information gained concerning timing and implementation of the interventions on fidelity of implementation suggested otherwise. across the nine subjects. First, the decision regarding when Classroom teachers frequently reported challenges with to initiate particular interventions for specific students was following through with reward systems and antecedent determined by the intervention team (including the parents). condition strategies. Counseling and parent involvement Several factors were considered by the intervention team were two other strategies which were implemented with including ease of implementation, the developmental level relative ease. The developmental level of the student also of the student, the presenting problem, and the results of impacted implementation. The intervention team felt FBA. Second, the general problem solving method utilized kindergarten and first grade students were the least likely to within the RTI model suggested additional interventions benefit from cognitive behavioral interventions and social should not be implemented if the student’s behavior was skills training due to the heavy emphasis on meta-cognition improving. Likewise, interventions were generally added with these procedures (Dobson, 2001). Third, the use of when maladaptive behavior was accelerating relative to the FBA throughout the process guided the intervention team in level from the previous month. As can be noted, ABA, implementing various strategies. In the event the FBA counseling and parent involvement were generally suggested behavioral problems may be the result of social introduced first. It was felt by the intervention team that skill deficits, that training would be initiated. In the case of these strategies were the easiest to implement and resulted student 1 the intervention team felt he may benefit from in the least time out of the general education setting. Most learning the social skill of “asking for help when frustrated.” teachers felt they could easily implement reward systems for As such, that intervention was initiated during the second year. If the FBA suggested potential problems with frequency of the data demonstrated. When interventions irrational thinking, self management, self control, self were implemented that did not meet the general problem evaluation or self reward, cognitive behavioral interventions solving criteria or method, it was due to the intensity and were initiated. Finally, the intensity and nature of the duration of aggressive and noncompliant behavior being problem behavior was paramount in guiding the intervention team in adding or changing interventions, despite what the Figure 4. Progress graphs for students 8 and 9 for the first two years of the RTI program.
learning skills to deal with their problems;” “It is nice to know we have a plan if the student becomes disruptive in In addition to the quantitative data noted above, my class;” “I liked the weekly meetings;” and “I have qualitative data also suggested positive outcomes attributed learned a lot about what these kids need to be successful.” to this RTI model. Interviews were completed with the Two of the general educators, however, did not provide such general education teachers, special education teachers, positive feedback: “(the students) are just getting away with principals, students and parents involved in this program. it when they get to go to the resource room!” (i.e., for Seven of the nine general educators were supportive of the problem solving with staff); “they are not getting any better, program and reported “I have really appreciated the support they are still acting out;” “What will they (Students) do from the (intervention) staff;” “It is nice to have some help when they don’t have all of this help?”; “It isn’t fair to the with our really challenging students;” “they (students) are other students;” and “they (the students) need to learn to having assessment relate to interventions, prioritizing interventions and outcomes over eligibility, and eliminating The Special Education staff responded very favorably to the wait to fail phenomenon present in current practices. In the program implementation noting, “I really like being able addition, the results addressed issues identified as salient in to help them learn how to manage their emotions”; “It is fun the provision of special education services within the rural to see them improve”; “I liked being able to learn how to area including training and retention of teachers, financial talk with them about their problems, figuring out issues of meeting the mandates of IDEA 2004, and threats solutions!”; “It was a lot of help to recognize (good) of litigation by disheartened parents. The positive behavior needs to occur before learning”; “It was nice to involvement and statements made by parents suggested this have a plan for these kids, rather than just getting them model has merit in terms of engaging them in their dumped in here” (i.e., in the resource room); “I really liked children’s educational programs, having them feel the teaching the social skills and problem solving part”; and school is committed to their child’s success and improving “This really helped us show parents how their kids were communication with educational staff. As Murray (2005) indicated, these dynamics have significant effects in terms The principals also made supportive comments including of decreasing the likelihood of litigation. The positive “This provided us with a way to systematically address responses noted by most teachers involved in the program student issues” and “I appreciated the help with our most suggested they felt successful with a very challenging challenging students.” There were times, however, when student group. As noted in Miller, Brownell and Smith the principals felt the program goals were not necessarily in (1999) this empowerment assisted in teacher retention over line with school policy. This was particularly evident with time. The teacher responses and program outcomes regard to aggressive behavior. While policy dictated a indicated the weekly staff meetings were essential in negative sanction like suspension, program efforts were maintaining staff motivation as well as providing necessary grounded in problem solving methodology. In addition, the technical support and staff training in order to ensure principal supervising the general education staff that had program integrity. Previous researchers (Hughes and Adera, negative feelings about the program felt caught in a 2006) have documented the importance of these activities in dilemma. As Murray (2005) noted, the ethical goals of the retaining quality teachers. Finally, results of the study teacher (what is best for the student?) are occasionally not in suggested this model could be implemented by the general concert with the ethical goals of the principal (what is best education teacher, special education teacher, teacher’s aides, and the school counselor with consultative support and The parents provided powerful feedback regarding their training from a school psychologist familiar with the feelings about the program including “It is nice to finally interventions. Given the financial challenges faced by most feel like someone is concerned about my son”; “I really rural schools, programs which can be implemented with a liked how you are trying to teach him how to behave”; “He minimum number of staff would appear to be quite is learning how to talk about his feelings”; “Before (this school and program) I usually felt blamed for my son’s bad The school counselor in this model fulfilled a central role behavior, you guys are trying to help!”; “I liked the daily in working with the at risk students and their families, notebook to let me know how his day went”; and “This has providing critical information to the program staff regarding really helped my daughter.” Only one parent was negative the student’s perceptions and communicating effectively noting “You are letting him get away with murder!” with community mental health providers. It is significant to Finally, students also reported positive feelings about the note, not all school counselors readily accept or embrace program stating, “I like to come here (resource room) to get this special education support role (Montiero-Leitner, help with my anger”; “I know what the rules are here Asner-Self, Milde, Leitner and Skelton, 2006). As such, it (resource room)”; “I don’t feel so sad all the time”; “My is imperative to assess the school counselor’s commitment Mom thinks I am doing better in school than before”; “I haven’t gotten into trouble at recess for a long time!”; and “I There were some developmental differences noted in terms of the student’s responses to intervention within the program. Students at the Kindergarten and First grade levels Conclusions and Recommendations
appeared to benefit the least from social skills training or cognitive behavioral interventions. Given their level of The results of the two year RTI program implementation cognitive development this seems logical. It did, however, suggested an overall positive effect in improving student introduce them to the idea of seeking help when facing behavior, as well as being accepted by education staff, challenges within the school and to the language of self- families and the children themselves. This RTI control. Applied behavior analysis interventions and implementation addressed the shortcomings of previous parental involvement appeared to have the most impact at models as outlined by Reschly and Ysseldyke (2002) and this level. Students in grades 3-5 enjoyed the social skills Fletcher, Coulter, Reschly and Vaughn (2004) including and cognitive behavior intervention training sequences, as well as the subsequent problem solving sessions. On Dobson, K. S. (2001). Handbook of cognitive-behavioral occasion, intervention staff had to deal with students therapies. New York. The Guilford Press. avoiding other school work to “problem solve” a reported Ervin, R.A., Ehrhardt, K.E. & Poling, A. (2001). Functional dilemma. This was generally dealt with via verbal assessment: Old wine in new bottles. School Psychology Review, 30 (2) 173-179. The behaviors identified, treated and monitored within Fairbanks, S., Sugai, G., Guardino, D., & Lathrop, M. this RTI model were determined as a result of office (2007). Response to intervention: examining classroom referrals. While frequency of behaviors were the primary behavior support in second grade. Council for factors in assessing student growth, it is also important to Exceptional Children, 73 (3), 288-310. recognize the social or ecological validity of the behaviors Fletcher, J. M., Francis, D.J., Morris, R.D., & Lyon, G.R. in questions (Gresham, 2005). The primary behavioral (2005). Evidence-based assessment of learning concerns of the two students who were subsequently placed disabilities in children and adolescents. Journal of in special education on the basis of emotional disturbance Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 34 (3), 506- during this RTI model implementation were aggression toward staff and other students. The social or ecological Fletcher, J.M., Coulter, W.A., Reschly, D.J., & Vaughn, S. impact of these behaviors was more salient than the (2004). Alternative approaches to the definition and frequency of the behaviors in question. While subsequent identification of learning disabilities: some questions RTI attempts will probably continue to focus on frequency and answers. Annals of Dyslexia, 534 (2), 304-331. of maladaptive behaviors to document progress monitoring, Fuchs, D. & Fuchs, L.S. (2005). Responsiveness to it would appear that emphasis on the social validity and intervention: A blueprint for practitioners, policy ecological impact of these behaviors will also need to be makers, and parents. Teaching Exceptional Children, 38 Fuchs, D. & Fuchs, L.S. (2006). Introduction to response to References
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(1999). accountability process. Education, 127 (1), 115-121. Factors that predict teachers staying in, leaving, or Tomlinson, C.A. (1999). The differentiated classroom: transferring from the special education classroom. Responding to the needs of all learners. Alexandria, Exceptional Children, 65, 201-218. Virginia: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Montiero-Leitner, J., Asner-Self, K.K., Milde, C., Leitner, D.W., & Skelton, D. (2006). The role of the rural Tomlinson, C.A. & McTighe, J. (2006). Integrating school counselor: Counselor, counselor in training and differentiated instruction and understanding by design. principal perceptions. Professional School Counseling, Alexandria, Virginia: Association for Supervision and Murray, F.R. (2005). Effective advocacy for students with Treptow, M.A., Burns, M.K., & McComas, J.J. (2007). emotional/behavioral disorders: How high the cost? Reading at the frustration, instructional, and Education and Treatment of Children, 28 (4), 414-430. independent levels: The effects of student’s reading Nagle, K.M., Hernandez, G., Embler, S., Mclaughlin, M.J., comprehension and time on task. School Psychology & Doh, F. (2006). Characteristics of effective rural elementary schools for students with disabilities. Rural U.S. Census Bureau. 2006. Special Education Quarterly, 25 (3) 10-13. Office of Rural Health Policy Resources and Services Administration within the Department of Health and


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Volume 2010-11 Issue # T-2 5130 W. Vliet Street Milwaukee, WI 53208 414-259-1990 Tentative Agreement: Q & A Informed Decision This publication answers questions members frequently ask about the - The First Step tentative teacher contract agreement. The Q and A's are also at As we receive more questions, we will add them to our online edition. Questions that

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