Stakeholders' Voices: Defining Needs of Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders Transitioning between School Settings

Behav Disord. 2016 May;41(3):135-147. doi: 10.17988/BD-15-73.1. Epub 2016 May 1.

Abstract

Students with emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD) too often do not receive adequate services or care in their school settings, particularly during transitions in educational placements. In addition, school support teams often struggle with creating transition plans that honor the needs of students with input from key stakeholders responsible for supporting student success. This article presents findings from the information-gathering phase of an iterative project that aims to develop a support program for students with EBD transitioning from day-treatment schools to district schools. We conducted 5 semistructured, qualitative focus groups with parents and teachers to explore needs during students' transitions between school settings. Five themes emerged from the focus groups: (a) consistent, behavior-specific feedback and positive reinforcement are vital to sustaining learned prosocial skills; (b) students benefit from regular opportunities to learn and practice social skills; (c) transition programming should emphasize communication between school and home; (d) routines at home and school should be coordinated; and (e) parents need support at school meetings. We will use findings from this study to develop a multifaceted intervention that aims to support students, their caregivers, and their teachers during transitions between the aforementioned types of schools.