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The mission of the CENTER FOR EFFECTIVE SCHOOLS, a part of Devereux's larger Institute of Clinical and Professional Training and Research, is to build capacity in schools for serving children with, or at-risk for developing, emotional and behavioral disorders. This mission is accomplished through training, consultation, new model program development, and applied research.

The number of students presenting with serious emotional and behavior problems is increasing. Aggressive and antisocial behaviors, as well as delinquency and violence, are all part of an unfortunate, but emerging, behavioral pattern evident among school students from kindergarten through high school. Although a small percentage of these students receive services directly from outpatient, community-based mental health settings, the only available treatment for many others is in the school.

Although all teachers are faced with strong challenges presented by students with emotional and behavioral difficulties, research suggests that both general education and special education teachers do not feel equipped to effectively educate these students. While there is evidence validating specific instructional strategies designed to improve the academic and social skills of students with behavior problems, these procedures are not routinely implemented. Lack of training is the most commonly cited reason, with only 5% of teachers accrediting their college coursework as a source of the management techniques they use. Instead, most teachers report that other teachers and workshops are more helpful in influencing their use of specific teaching strategies.

Clearly, it is a critical that teachers are equipped with the skills necessary to teach and reintegrate students with emotional and behavioral disorders. However, although training is a necessary step toward increasing teacher knowledge, studies repeatedly demonstrate that it is not sufficient; without follow-up consultative support, procedures trained will either not be implemented or are likely to be implemented ineffectively.

In summary, the number of students who present with emotional and behavioral challenges continues to rise, and schools need to

  • decrease the need for emotional support services by equipping general education teachers with prevention and early intervention strategies and

  • develop effective model programs for those students who will inevitably need special education intervention for emotional and behavioral problems.

The bottom line: no matter the location of services, students need to be taught well.

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