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Jackson, Hal G; Neel, Richard S., (2006), Observing mathematics: do students with EBD have access to standards-based mathematics instruction? (Emotional and behavioral disorders), Education & Treatment of Children, 29, 593-614.
The article addressed the concern of students with EBD having access to standards-based mathematics instruction. The observation study examined the degree to which students with emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD) have access to National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) Standards-based curricula and instruction. Investigators completed 60 observations, using a partial interval time-sampling procedure, in 12 elementary general education, resource room, and self-contained EBD classrooms drawn from 4 schools across 3 school districts. Based on the results from the investigation, evidence suggests that students receiving their mathematics instruction in special education settings are not likely to access standards-based content or engage in activities that required the use of various technologies. Further studies showed that general education teachers represented in this study appeared to present standards-aligned curricula and organized instruction differently than their special education colleagues while implementing assignments requiring the use of technology.
The purpose of this pilot investigation was to examine the curricular content and instructional practices across the full range of elementary school classroom settings: general education, resource rooms, and self-contained classrooms for students with EBD. The overall objective of this work was to provide a preliminary look at the character of mathematics instruction available to students with EBD. Goldsmith and Mark (1999) suggest that Standards represent a perspective on learning and teaching that shifts the focus of curriculum away from rote learning and the application of procedures to an emphasis on developing conceptual understanding. “A corresponding pedagogical shift has moved the focus from direct instruction, drill, and practice toward more active student engagement with mathematical ideas through collaborative investigations, hands-on explorations, the use of multiple representations, and discussion and writing” (Goldsmith & Mark, 1999 p.40). These and other standards-based reform advocates do not deny the importance of helping students develop fact based and procedural knowledge; rather they place these skills in the service of promoting conceptual understanding and learning to “think mathematically” (Addington, Clemens, Howe, & Saul, 2001; Lappan, 2001).
The standards establish that programs and curricula should help students develop the following five mathematically processes. (a) Problem solving, (b) reasoning and proof, (c) communication, (d) connections, and (e) representations (NCTM, 2000). Basically this shift requires that teachers conduct less direct and explicit instruction, learn to engage students in more complex and authentic problem solving, elicit student’s expression of mathematical explanations, arguments, conversations and ides, and finally provide meaningful and effective instructional feedback within context of these activities (Woodward, 2001). The reform of standards-based mathematics has been quite broad, while a comparative analysis of the standards
and state math reforms has not been conducted; others have reported that 42 states have used the NCTM Standards to guide their reform efforts (Thurlow, 2000). Beyond the broad influence of NCTM Principles and Standards on mathematics reforms at the state level, two additional educational policy mandates intensify the importance of these math reforms. On November 19, 2004, Congress passed legislation to reauthorize the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA, 2004). This legislation reaffirmed the importance of public schools’ responsibility for assuring that students with disabilities have access to the general education curriculum. “All students, with or without disabilities, including English language learners and students who are ‘falling through the cracks,’ are to achieve general education curriculum” (Beckman, 2001, p.1). This legislation clearly helped solidify the importance of standards-based reforms such as NCTM. In addition, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) challenges states and school districts to address the underachievement of traditionally at-risk students. NCLB calls on educators to align academic content for students who have disabilities with local and statewide grade-level standards, just as for students without disabilities. Further, NCLB created performance standards and metrics of adequate yearly progress to hold state education agencies accountable for students’ measurable academic progress (Kim & Sunderman, 2004).
Critique This study sought to answer the question; do students with EBD have access to standardsbased mathematics instruction? As a result the study attempted to include examples of various methods of integrating technology into mathematics lessons and displaying the results while clarifying several misconceptions about the effects of technology usage on mathematics learning. The introduction included some terminology regarding the key concepts and background information that readers outside of education may not be familiar with and the report
lacked a formal literature review as well as a section dedicated to methodology used in the study. The lack of the methodology section does present a challenge to readers not a member of the targeted audience. However, the author’s comfortable writing style does allow the reader to relate to key concepts easily. The material presented applies to both my own research topic for this course and my personal career as I attempt to seek various methods to engage my students in activities that are both rigorous and relevant while preparing them for the 21st century. With the requirement of educators to create lesson and activities geared to inclusion students who may have EBD, EMH or LD depending on their Individual Education Plan (IEP), we must stay abreast to the effects of and the most effective methods for integrating technology in standards based classrooms that will address the needs of all students.
The influences of NCTM standards-based reforms and the legislative regulations of NCLB and IDEA create intense pressure for schools and teachers to improve all students’ academic performance. Research has shown that students with EBD perform poorly across the board in all academic subjects which imposes a challenge to teachers of students with EBD. The primary reason that most instructors say that they are not able to implement standards-based instruction is due to a lack of resources. No evidence supports the idea that the standards-based instruction along with the legislations, pose a major problem to instructors. Therefore the purpose of this investigation was to document the availability of NCTM standards-based math instruction across the full range of educational environments in typical elementary schools.
These findings are critical to teachers, as the individuals who often first raise a red flag about potential impairments. Teacher recommendations regarding special education services are frequently followed by the assessment team. By raising awareness about what are most likely
unintentional biases, the study can assist teachers in re-assessing their assessment and reviewing their recommendations with a critical eye before passing them on to the child’s assessment team.
In conclusion given the poor academic performance of students with EBD and the negative academic outcomes associated with poor performance, it is essential that the field of EBD identify evidence-based instructional strategies and curricular programs to increase the performance of students with EBD. Evidence shows that the use of technology increases student engagement which can be used as a deterrent for symptoms associated with EBD therefore teachers that are trained to teach students with EBD should also receive professional development on implementation strategies and developing engaging activities that require the use of technology in all classroom settings.
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