Adolescent students with behavior disorders: Teachers' current referral practices

Nancy Ruth Smith, University of Rhode Island

Abstract

This study combined qualitative and quantitative methods to investigate teachers' practices when referring adolescent males and females to special education under the behavior disorder classification. Sixteen teachers were interviewed for the qualitative study. It was found that: teachers refer more males than females to special education for having a behavior disorder; females are more likely to be referred to guidance counselor as a means of addressing emotional/behavioral concerns within the school setting; within the classroom males tend to demonstrate more externalizing behaviors and females more internalizing behaviors; and teachers tend to demonstrate more leniency with females in the discipline process. In addition, two findings emerged from the interview process: teachers are aware that girls and boys manage their psychological difficulties in disparate ways, girls seek help from their peer group and guidance counselors whereas males are much less likely to verbalize their difficulties; and teachers perceive girls as managing their psychological difficulties in ways that enable them to obtain support for their problems. For the quantitative study, 60 teachers completed a modified version of the Achenbach Teacher Report Form that contained scales associated with the Internalizing and Externalizing factors. Results indicated that: males experiencing psychological difficulties demonstrate significantly more externalizing behaviors than females experiencing psychological difficulties; males experiencing psychological difficulties demonstrate significantly more externalizing behaviors than males referred to special education for having a behavior disorder; females experiencing psychological difficulties demonstrate significantly more internalizing behaviors than males experiencing psychological difficulties; and males referred to special education demonstrate significantly more internalizing behaviors than males who are experiencing psychological difficulties. The quantitative results indicate that teachers utilize a gender neutral set of criteria when referring students to special education for a behavior disorder. Consequently, females who demonstrate internalizing behaviors may be overlooked within the current formal special education referral system. ^

Subject Area

Education, Educational Psychology|Education, Special|Psychology, Clinical

Recommended Citation

Nancy Ruth Smith, "Adolescent students with behavior disorders: Teachers' current referral practices" (1998). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI9902578.
http://digitalcommons.uri.edu/dissertations/AAI9902578

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