A r c h i v e d I n f o r m a t i o n
Biennial Evaluation Report - FY 93-94
Program for Children with Serious Emotional Disturbance
I. Program Profile
Legislation: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Part C, Section 627, contained in the 1990 Education of the Handicapped Act Amendments, P.L. 101-476 (20 U.S.C. 1426)(expires September 30, 1995).
Purpose: To establish projects for the purpose of improving special education and related services to children and youth with serious emotional disturbance. Projects may have purposes such as the following: demonstration of innovative approaches, facilitation of interagency and private sector resource pooling, and training or dissemination of information to parents, service providers, and other appropriate people.
|Fiscal Year ||Appropriation|
|1991 ||1,952,000 |
|1992 ||4,000,000 |
|1993 ||4,146,560 |
|1994 ||4,146,560 |
II. Program Information and Analysis
Effectively serving and meeting the needs of children and youth with serious emotional disturbance (SED) and their families is a national problem and concern. The necessity of addressing the needs of these children and youth has become increasingly apparent. Failure to do so threatens the success of the Nation's educational objectives (e.g., GOALS 2000) and limits life-long opportunities for many individuals. The following data suggest the magnitude of the problem:
- Academic Outcomes. Students with SED have lower grades than any other group of students with disabilities. They fail more courses and they more frequently fail minimum competency examinations than do other students with disabilities; they also are retained at grade level more often at the end of the school year. High school students with SED have an average grade point average of 1.7 (on a four-point scale), compared to 2.0 for all disabled students and 2.6 for all students. Forty-four percent received one or more failing grades in their most recent school year (compared to 31 percent for all students with disabilities). Of those who took minimum competency tests (22 percent were exempted), 63 percent failed some part of the test.
- Dropout and Graduation Rates. Fifty percent of students with SED drop out of school (with most dropping out by 10th grade), while a total of 58 percent leave school without graduating. Only 42 percent graduate, as opposed to 56 percent of all students with disabilities and 71 percent of all students.
- School Placement. Eighteen percent of students with SED are educated outside of their local schools, compared to six percent of all students without disabilities. Of those in their local schools, fewer than 17 percent are educated in regular classrooms, in contrast to 33 percent of all students with disabilities.
- Identification Rates of Students of Varying Socio-Economic Backgrounds. The rates of identification of children and youth with SED vary across racial, cultural, gender, and socioeconomic lines. Although African-American and white students represent 16 and 68 percent of the school age enrollment respectively, they represent 22 and 71 percent of the students classified as SED. On the other hand, Hispanic-Americans and Asian-Americans represent 12 and 3 percent of the school-aged population respectively, but only 6 and 1 percent of the students classified as SED. Data also suggest that students from low-socioeconomic backgrounds are over-represented and female students underrepresented among those identified with serious emotional disturbance.
- Encounters with the Juvenile Justice System. Twenty percent of students with SED are arrested at least once before they leave school, and 35 percent are arrested within a few years of leaving school.
Compared to all students with disabilities: (1) students with SED are more likely to be placed in restrictive settings and are more likely to drop out of school; (2) their families are more likely to be blamed for the student's disability and are more likely to make large financial sacrifices to secure services for their children; and (3) their teachers and aides are more likely to seek reassignment or leave their positions.
During school-year 1991-92, approximately 400,000 children and youth with serious emotional disturbance, ages 6 to 21, were served under the Chapter 1 Handicapped (ESEA) and Part B (IDEA) programs. There was an increase of more than 9,000 (2.6 percent) students with serious emotional disturbance between 1990-91 and 1991-92 in the Part B program. Since 1976-77, there has been an increase of more than 118,000 students (48 percent) served with this disability. These students comprise 8.4 percent of the total population of students with disabilities in 1991-92, compared to 7.5 percent in 1976-77. Despite these increases, there exists concern that students with serious emotional disturbance are under-identified. Under-identification may occur because some characteristics of serious emotional disturbance, such as withdrawal or depression, may be easily overlooked in school settings. In addition, some parents and professionals may be reluctant to classify a child with the serious emotional disturbance label since they often view it as pejorative.
This program currently funds multiple activities including: facilitating interagency and private sector resource efforts to improve services; school preparedness for promoting the personal and social development of students with emotional and behavioral problems; enhancing professional knowledge, skills, and strategies; and reducing out-of-community residential programs by improving services to children and their families. The program is also completing a multi-year effort to develop, validate, and confirm a national agenda to improve services for children and youth with, and at risk of developing, serious emotional disturbance. This process involves program staff in continual discussions with stakeholders in special education, general education, and mental health, to improve services for these students.
Types of projects that may be supported under this program include, but are not limited to, research, development, and demonstration projects. Eligible applicants are State and local education agencies, and other appropriate public and private nonprofit institutions or agencies. In FY 1993, the SED program funded five new and 22 continuing activities. The five new awards occurred under the priority for Development and Support for Enhancing Professional Knowledge, Skills, and Strategies:
- One new project located at Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA, will compare two approaches to increasing the skills and application of interventions for effective inclusion of students with SED within regular education classrooms.
- Another new project located at Keene State College, Keene, NH, will provide training and support for professionals in the fields of education, mental health, social work, and family services, to improve services for children and youth with SED.
- A project located at Educational Service District 112, Vancouver, WA, will test the existing school-based model CREST (Collaborative Responsibility Empowering School Teams) as an effective model to train school and community staff to meet needs of students with SED and behavioral disabilities.
- A project located at the University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, will develop and validate an innovative approach to the support and inservice training of professionals and families who are engaged in the planning and delivery of interagency community-based treatment to children and youth with SED.
- A project located at Educational Research and Service Center, DeKalb, IL, will develop, implement, and evaluate a training program to prepare direct service providers and educators from various social service agencies to collaborate in serving students with SED and their families.
Management Improvement Strategies
In 1990, Congress authorized programs for children and youth with SED under Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). IDEA mandates a participatory planning process, involving multiple stakeholders in the development of program goals, objectives, strategies, and priorities for all programs administered by the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), including the new program for children and youth with SED.
In order to help frame and guide the planning process, OSEP defined its mission as "Achieving Better Results for Individuals with Disabilities," and implemented a strategic planning process that had three goals: (1) to develop a national agenda that would focus the attention of educators, parents, advocates, and professionals from a variety of disciplines on what must be done to encourage, assist, and support our Nation's schools in their efforts to achieve better outcomes for children and youth with SED; (2) to provide recommendations for OSEP initiatives and funding opportunities aimed at providing better outcomes for children and youth with SED; and (3) to provide background for the IDEA-authorized program for children and youth with SED. This planning process incorporated one-on-one interviews, literature reviews, focus groups, stakeholder meetings, an interactive national teleconference, presentations, and the solicitation of oral and written responses.
Significantly improving results for children and youth with SED requires a vision of transformed service systems, reoriented professional attitudes, and an emphasis on positive outcomes. Toward these ends, OSEP and the participants in the planning process identified the following seven interdependent strategic targets:
- Target 1
- Expand Positive Learning Opportunities and Results - to foster the provision of engaging, useful, and positive learning opportunities. These opportunities should be result-driven and should acknowledge as well as respond to the experiences and needs of children and youth with serious emotional disturbance.
- Target 2
- Strengthen School and Community Capacity - to foster initiatives that strengthen the capacity of schools and communities to serve students with serious emotional disturbance in the least restrictive environments appropriate.
- Target 3
- Value and Address Diversity - to encourage culturally competent and linguistically appropriate exchanges and collaborations among families, professionals, students, and communities. These collaborations should foster equitable outcomes for all students and result in the identification and provision of services that are responsive to issues of race, culture, gender, and social and economic status.
- Target 4
- Collaborate with Families - to foster collaborations that fully include family members on the team of service providers that implements family-focused services to improve educational outcomes. Services should be open, helpful, culturally competent, accessible to families, and school- as well as community-based.
- Target 5
- Promote Appropriate Assessment - to promote practices ensuring that assessment is integral to the identification, design, and delivery of services for children and youth with SED. These practices should be culturally appropriate, ethical, and functional.
- Target 6
- Provide Ongoing Skill Development and Support - to foster the enhancement of knowledge, understanding, and sensitivity among all who work with children and youth with and at risk of developing serious emotional disturbance. Support and development should be ongoing and aim at strengthening the capacity of families, teachers, service providers, and other stakeholders to collaborate, persevere, and improve outcomes for children and youth with SED.
- Target 7
- Create Comprehensive and Collaborative Systems - to promote systems change resulting in the development of coherent services built around the individual needs of children and youth with and at risk of developing serious emotional disturbance. These services should be family-centered, community-based, and appropriately funded.
Underlying the seven targets are several key assumptions that embody an understanding that a flexible and proactive continuum of services must be built around the needs of children with SED and their families. Furthermore, services must not only be available, but must be sustained and comprehensive, and they must collaboratively engage families, service providers, and the children and youth with serious emotional disturbance. Finally, both the needs of these children and increasing demographic diversity of our Nation call for cross-agency, school- and community-based relationships that are characterized by mutual respect and accountability with the child always in focus. Accordingly, OSEP identified the following three cross-cutting themes that reflect this understanding:
- collaborative efforts must extend to initiatives that prevent emotional and behavioral problems from developing or escalating;
- services must be provided in a culturally sensitive and respectful manner; and
- services must empower all stakeholders and maintain a climate of possibility and accountability.
OSEP is using the framework provided by its SED National Agenda--of mission, targets, and cross-cutting themes--to plan and develop appropriate priorities and activities under the program authorization, and to work collaboratively with other agencies, both within the Department of Education and externally, e.g., the Center for Mental Health Services in the Department of Health and Human Services.
III. Sources of Information
- Annual Reports to Congress, including: Fifteenth Annual Report to Congress on the Implementation of The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Education, 1993).
- Intra-Departmental Reports, including: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act: Program Funded Activities, Fiscal Year 1993 (OSEP, 1993).
- Program files.
IV. Planned Studies
OSEP's national SED agenda has targeted these areas:
- Expand positive learning opportunities and outcomes.
- Strengthen school and community capacity.
- Value and address diversity.
- Collaborate with families.
- Promote appropriate assessment.
- Provide ongoing skill development and support.
- Create comprehensive and collaborative systems.
Program staff are currently examining the alignment of past and current investments with these goals, to foster strategic planning of activities in the future. Under a current (FY 1993) subtask of a task-ordering contract, OSEP is evaluating and validating the targets and developing vehicles for their expanded dissemination to broader audiences.
V. Contacts for Further Information
- Program Operations:
- Doris Andres, (202) 205-8125
- Program Studies:
- Manny Smith, (202) 401-1958
[Secondary Education and Transitional Services for Youth with Disabilities]
[Grants for Parent Training]