Helping School Districts Serve and Maintain Students with Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Needs

Author: Walker Partnerships
Published: Tuesday 18th November 2014
Summary: When troubled students are not served properly, school district staff, and teachers who witness lack of educational progress, can become discouraged.

As a new year approaches, Walker Partnerships looks at updated options for troubled students and school district staff, who witness the lack of educational progress being made to those students not being served properly. The goal is to identify issues that are not being addressed in an effort to keep the numbers in the disability categories down.

There are an array of proven services available to schools that can help build internal capacity so they can maintain students with social, emotional, behavioral needs, but many still struggle and become frustrated with issues that do not get addressed. This leads to an increase in the lack of educational progress for kids with disabilities.

As we look forward to new year, Walker Partnerships has identified several options to help school districts that struggle to serve and maintain their students with social, emotional, and behavioral needs. Some attempt to build the necessary services within their districts by adding capacity in the form of services, and by utilizing space in the school if it is available. As a last resort, some districts place students into an approved program, either public through an educational collaborative, or a private day/residential school. A growing number of school districts in Massachusetts are finding that contracting with Walker Partnerships is the best option, both from the standpoint of cost and inclusion.

Convincing school districts of the benefits of contracting with Walker Partnerships has its challenges.

Some feel the needs of its students are being met properly with the resources at hand. This is not always the case because it is difficult for many districts to properly break down the "demographics" of its population of troubled students. Even though there are definitions by disability category, districts often interpret them differently. This disparity results in the quality of service varying greatly from one district to another even though they may be operating similar types programs and offering similar types of services.

James Earley, Ed. D., Managing Director stated, "With our experience, Walker Partnerships can begin to help improve the quality of programming through data collection with respect to the students' educational, treatment and behavioral performance goals. Earley went on to say, "Knowing how best to assemble and analyze this key information, Walker Partnerships can provide school districts with a solid foundation from which to build capacity to maintain students with a range of needs."

There are additional reasons for school districts to contract with Walker Partnerships.

When troubled students are not served properly, school district staff, especially teachers who witness the lack of educational progress being made, can become discouraged. Frustration is heightened because when issues are not addressed, the numbers in the disability categories continue to grow. This increases push back, not just from general educators, but also from parents of "typical" students who believe their children's education is being sacrificed, and from administrators who want their buildings "back". As for the parents of troubled students, they are stuck in the middle with the feeling that they do not have anyone they can turn to. Walker Partnerships provides an array of services that addresses all these concerns. Through an ecological approach Walker Partnerships is able to provide case management to a student and family, along with its other services to produce a school-based wrapped around approach that is demonstrated to be effective in changing behavior.

Since 1994 Walker Partnerships has been providing comprehensive services to school districts throughout Massachusetts to help them increase their capacity to include students with serious emotional disabilities. Walker Partnerships' model of service delivery focuses on increasing student participation in general education, reducing barriers, restructuring policies, teaching best practices, and shifting culture. Walker Partnerships is fully committed to finding better ways of including students who are at risk of marginalization or exclusion.

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