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SPE-615-EBD Case Study

Alverno College

Kelly McGonagil


Sammy is a 16 year old year student of African American heritage. He lives in a small rural town
with his mother, father, and one younger brother. Sammy’s parents, amidst working in low-wage
service jobs, have taken an active role in his education, and are commended for being involved in
the process. Initial academic challenges were noticed in first grade. Sammy had difficulties with
the beginning reading process, and often showed an inability to stay on task and complete
assignments. This lead to a special education evaluation, and determination as a student with a
learning disability.

Upon receiving services, Sammy experienced many inconsistencies with his placement. This
likely had an adverse impact on his education. He initially began receiving assistance from the
school resource room, and then was, twice, transferred back and forth from the regular education
setting to the self-contained classroom. Progress at the elementary level was minimal for
Sammy. Academically, Sammy was still performing well below grade level in mathematics and
reading. Behaviorally, teachers continued to notice problems with impulse control, difficulties
sustaining attention, displays of anger, and task completion. Sammy’s mother reports numerous
emotional outbursts at home as well. His behavior exceeded what is generally accepted and
expected for his age at that time, and was affecting his school and personal performance. It
became clear, however, that when provided with proper support and structure, Sammy was
capable of progressing keeping and his emotions under control.

When Sammy entered seventh grade he was placed in a self-contained classroom. Sammy was
making little progress, and his aggressive behaviors began to increase. He was suspended on
multiple occasions for fighting. Sammy had a similar experience upon entering high school, and
his behavior became more violent. He was suspended for fighting, at which point his mother
placed him in an alternative setting for out-of-school youth, which he was later expelled from for
his aggressions. Sammy was placed under the jurisdiction of the juvenile justice system. It was
following this pattern of events that Sammy’s mother urged a re-evaluation, in hopes of
obtaining proper help for her son.

The most recent round of psychoeducational assessments included the following tests: Wechsler
Intelligence Scale for Children--IV, Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test--Revised, Peabody
Individual Achievement Test--Revised, and the Wide Range Achievement Test--Revised.
Sammy’s scores were significantly below grade level. A comprehensive look and interpretation
of Sammy’s results can be viewed in the evaluation report.
Sammy’s Strengths:
Visual processing skills
Areas of Challenge:
Academics: reading, mathematics, spelling
Listening skills
Low-average intellectual intelligence
School adjustment problems
Behavioral aggressions
Impulse control
Task completion
Goal setting

Sammy was previously diagnosed with a specific learning disability. Following his most recent
collection of assessments, his evaluator recommended that he continue to qualify for services
under specific learning disability. It is evident that Sammy is presenting an emotional behavior
disorder in addition to a specific learning disability and would benefit from additional Special
Education Services. Through a series of interviews, and multiple years of observation it is
apparent that Sammy is displaying severe, chronic and frequent inappropriate behaviors at home
and the school setting. He demonstrates aggressiveness, inappropriate emotional responses,
impulse control issues, and inattentiveness. Results of multiple assessments show that Sammy is
functioning intellectually in the low-average range, and is achieving well below grade level in
spelling, mathematics, and reading.

It is recommended that Sammy receive services to promote success academically, emotionally,

and behaviorally. This will help increase comprehension of the regular education curriculum and
material, specifically in the areas of mathematics and reading, as well as to encourage socially
acceptable behaviors. It would be best to have Sammy remain in the regular education setting for
the majority of the school day, and spend a small portion of the day in the school's resource
room. Note guides and outlines, test modifications, and more time for completion will be
recommended to the regular education teachers. Sammy may also require intervention in
mathematics and reading, in a smaller group format, to help achieve grade level performance.
Sammy will need a strict behavior plan and contract. He will learn strategies for impulse control,
and anger management. Additionally, a functional behavior assessment should be conducted in
order to determine more specific areas of focus, as well as gauge possible intervention strategies.

A main concern in this case study seemed to be which disability Sammy qualified to receive
services for. He was previously labeled as having a learning disability for which he received
special education services. As Sammy progressed through his elementary and middle school
years, a lack of improvement academically and behaviorally proved to be extremely detrimental
upon reaching the high school level. Thus the question arose: if very little progress was being
made, were services ineffective? Or does Sammy in fact qualify in another area?

There appeared to be ample information provided in order to make an accurate determination for
Sammy’s needs. This case study provided multiple perspectives, in the form of parent interviews,
teacher observations and feedback, numerous assessment results, and former intervention and
evaluation pieces. According to DPI, the criteria for determining an individual as EBD is …..
Sammy, in addition, seemed to have a lot of environmental factors going against him, much of
which was out of his control. For example, in fourth grade, his regular education teacher was
unwilling to provide any extra support, and addressed Sammy in a very negative and sarcastic
manner. Also, the school resource position was vacant for two months, which furthered the lack
of support. It is evident that the school did not have a system set up to ensure students do not fall
through the cracks should resources become unavailable.

A few questions arose through the completion of this study:

-What rights do families have upon pulling a student to attend an alternative setting?
Similarly, what responsibilities do schools have in such a situation?
-Is the school obligated to perform testing once they transfer to an alternative setting,
assuming they still reside in the district?
It was apparent that Sammy’s mother was not aware of the fact that the district was no longer
obligated to serve him after she transferred Sammy to the alternative school setting. This had me
reflecting on the role of the special educator. In addition to providing services to the students on
their caseload, it is also up to the teacher to educate parents on the logistics of their services, as
the parents role is often overwhelming and confusing. At the end of this study, I was not left
wanting to conduct a series of assessments, as with other case studies, in an effort to “prove” my
determination accurate, but was more so reflecting on how I would approach interventions and
placement if Sammy was my student. Although there are areas that still needed to be assessed,
mostly in terms of behavior, the focus was more on finding solutions going forward.