Note: The material in this section was adapted from Emotional Disabilities: Resource Manual Volume II-E, Bureau of Student Services and Exceptional Education, Division of Public Schools, Florida Department of Education, 1995.
Delinquent and Disruptive Students are More Than LabelsComments: So who are we really talking about? Establishing a clear definition of discipline, driven by the teacher's beliefs provides the framework for developing effective teaching approaches, it provides little functional information for classroom instruction based on the actual needs of the student. We still need to define the student. For students to be defined in functional terms that can be used to develop interventions and programs, key student variables must be addressed. These include general and specific behavior characteristics, demographics, behavioral performance, and academic performance.
There is significant research to indicate that demographic variables such as gender, ethnicity, and culture play a significant role in the educational experiences of students. A 1994 demographic profile of 1000 students identified as being disruptive or delinquent is provided in Table 1.1.
Demographic Profile of Disruptive Students in Florida
Male 67% Low Socioeconomic Status 79% Minority 58%Lee R. Clark (1995), Unpublished Adapted Follow-up Stud from "Comprehensive Assessments of Students with Emotional Disturbance."
From this demographic profile a teacher, program developer, or staff development specialist can determine the extent to which these variables will impact learning (e.g., Do poor minority males need a targeted curricula, teaching strategies, and supportive resources unique to them and or these characteristics?). Most research will suggest that these variables do have an impact on learning, not because of their impact on ability, rather their impact on reaction/response to teaching styles, curricula, and processing information (Clark, 1985).
Effective educational programming is based on a functional definition of students which takes into consideration their demographic characteristics.
If the primary purpose of education is to increase the academic capabilities of students, then common sense would dictate that a functional definition of delinquent or disruptive students would include an assessment of the students' academic performance. This assessment must include more than standardized test scores. The assessment must be developed from data that can be directly translated into lessons and interventions. Table 1.2 shows a comparison of the academic performance of these same 1000 students with the performance of a like number of regular education students based on the results of standardized competency-based tests.
Academic Achievement Objectives Failed
Reading 10% Comprehension 89% 8% Word Analysis 11% Mathematics 21% Problem-Solving 91% 9% Geometry 51% 5% Basic Facts 15%Lee R. Clark (1995), Unpublished Adapted Study, "Comprehensive Assessments of Students with Emotional Disturbance and Behavior Disorders."
Delinquent and Disruptive students generally exhibit one or more of the following behavior characteristics:
Anticipated Behaviors of Delinquent and Disruptive Youth
- Reluctance or refusal to begin new tasks or to participate
- Defiance of authority or verbal abuse of others
- Tardiness, truancy, or leaving class or school grounds
- Drug and/or alcohol abuse
- Seeking punishment by repeated acts
- Physically abusive to persons or property
- Striking out or aggressive when confronted, threatened, or placed in a defenseless position
- Seeking constant attention
- Showing inappropriate behaviors in situations (laughing at sad or tragic times, crying for no apparent reason)
From this profile of behavioral characteristics, a teacher can determine the extent to which these characteristics exist within students in their classroom, and subsequently anticipate how they will impact both classroom and individual learning. Most research will suggest that these characteristics have an impact on learning, not because of their impact on ability, rather their impact on reaction/response to teaching styles, curricula, and processing information (Clark, 1985).
Answering the question "Do I (the teacher) need to develop a set of proactive and reactive interventions based on the anticipated behaviors of my students?" will determine, in large part, the type and extent of attention needed in developing and applying behavioral interventions as part of the educational process. Effective teachers will answer yes to this question. The section entitled Targeting Behaviors within this module provide teachers who responded in the affirmative with strategies for developing effective proactive and reactive interventions based on anticipated behaviors of students.
Effective educational programming is based on a functional definition of students that takes into consideration their behavioral characteristics.
The primary reason for student placement in delinquent or disruptive student education programs is behavioral performance. The behavioral profile of the same 1000 students is provided in Table 1.3.
Behavioral Profile of Disruptive Students in Florida
Average behavior of disruptive and delinquent students compared with non-identified peers:14 times as many acts of defiance
11 times as many reports of fighting with peers
19 times as many repeat offenses as their regular education peers
Description of behavior that triggered referral:92% Verbal defiance
78% Physical aggression
71% Noncompliance with rules
7% Withdrawn behaviorLee R. Clark (1995), Unpublished Adapted Study, "Comprehensive Assessments of Students with Emotional Disturbance and Behavior Disorders."
From this behavioral profile, a teacher can identify the extent to which these variables will impact learning (e.g., Do aggressive, acting-out, defiant students need targeted curricula, teaching strategies, and supportive resources unique to them?).
Effective educational programming is based on a functional definition that takes into consideration the behavioral characteristics of students.
In summary, disruptive and delinquent students are more than labels and test scores. If educational programs for these students are to be effective, their planning, development, and implementation must be based on a functional definition of each student's behavior that includes:
- the demographic variables that impact learning,
- the academic performance of the student expressed in terms that can lead to targeted remedial, enrichment, or compensatory strategies, and
- the behavioral performance of the student expressed in terms that can directly lead to targeted interventions.
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Copyright ©, 2000. Lee R. Clark. All Rights Reserved.
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Last modified 2000-07-21.