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Incorporating Cultural Factors in Determining Emotional Disturbance

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1 Incorporating Cultural Factors in Determining Emotional Disturbance
Presented by: Ray Easler, Ph.D. Franklin-McKinley School District Alliant University Kimberlie Cain, M.A., Ed. S. San Diego Unified School District Julie Miller, Graduate Student

2 AGENDA What are the 3 specifiers of the 5 potential characteristics of the emotional disturbance definition? How are they defined? What are the 5 potential characteristics of the emotional disturbance definition? How do the cultural implications mesh with the Emotionally Disturbed for African-American, Hispanic, and Native American students?

3 What is the State’s definition or criteria for disproportionate representation? Agenda (continued)
Non-Biased assessment - Does it pertain solely to the instruments used or can it include the assessor as well? Questions put forth to representatives from States in looking at “Disproportionate Representation” from OSEP What is the process used to determine if it is the result of inappropriate classification? Why are the majority of the States reporting 0% of LEA’s with Disproportionate Representation being the result of inappropriate determination? (

4 Late 70s and early 80s literature
Suggested biased placement likely to have it’s roots in the referral process Assessment data may be collected to reinforce a “covert decision” that had already been made The result of predetermined “perceptions”, “cognitions”, and “belief systems” likely to result in a disproportionality of students of color in E.D. classes

5 Implications to Assessment
School psychologists need to be sensitive to culture during the assessment Need to be careful that the “problematic” behaviors are not the result of racial, ethnic, linguistic, and/or other factors, but rather are “normal characteristics for their culture” Misconceptions come from: not being aware of the cultural considerations of these students Not thinking like the students not being aware of, or understanding their culture

6 E.D. eligibility often determined by…
Training (or lack of) Personal experiences and views Definition of professional association State and District policies

7 Who Makes the Difficult Decision?
Ambiguous decisions of differentiating between “learned” behaviors and behaviors that are a “disability” are often made by an I.E.P. team as a result of: team members who focus on the teacher’s complaint Not focused on student’s characteristics Not focused on the appropriateness of identification and placement. (Coroner’s attitude.)

8 What to look at… look at the student as an individual through global aspects of Cognitive Social Affective processes Possible effects of these variables on teachers, students, and administrators (Frisby 1992)

9 What to look at… “The most important factor that needs to be addressed is assessor bias and misuse of assessment information. After all, the person conducting the evaluation is a product of family experiences, beliefs, social-group membership as well as formal training.” -Gray-Little (1995)

10 Research Data Two studies show teachers’ perceptions of students’ behavior and teacher biases influence patterns and have been linked empirically to special education referrals and referral patterns. - Cartledge & Kourea (2008); (Hosp & Reschly (2003).

11 Questions to Ask/Observations to Make:
What behaviors appear to bother the teacher? Which students are exhibiting the behaviors? Are all students exhibiting the behaviors treated the same? Who are the students the teacher appears to have the most difficulty managing? What are their cultural, economic, or linguistic backgrounds? How do students from different backgrounds appear to affect the teacher?

12 Questions to Ask/Observations to Make:
To what extent has the teacher “reached out” (or appeared to) and demonstrated concern to students of color? To what extent has the teacher demonstrated genuine care to all students? If students were asked to identify which students are treated differently what would they say? If students were asked to identify which students the teacher likes best and least what would they say?

13 Questions to Ask/Observations to Make:
How are students of color performing in the teacher’s class? What does the teacher do or say to encourage these student’s to be successful? Is there evidence that the teacher considers the cultural backgrounds of the students in his/her teaching style? Is there evidence that the teacher has introduced culturally considerate curriculum? What evidence is there regarding whether the teacher is aware of and sensitive to the differences in behaviors or learning styles of students of color?

14 Issues that may result in inappropriate referrals:
Behaviors that are acceptable and encouraged in the home and the community may be incompatible with expected school behaviors May cause the student to choose between home and school behaviors Behaviors that are indicative of problems in one group of students may not be so in another group of students Some behaviors students exhibit may be wrongly attributed and interpreted by teachers who do not understand the students’ culture or background

15 “….school psychologists must determine whether problems presumed to reside within the students, may result from institutional biases in the school.” -Sandoval (2007) Professional standards and ethical issues (pg 37) in Handbook of Multicultural School Psychology – An Interdisciplinary Perspective.

16 “The potential difficulty for educators lies in recognizing whether, when, and how culture is having an effect on students’ ‘functioning’. ”

17 Recommendations on working with Ethnic Minority Students (Sattler)
Areas to consider: Student’s and family’s ethnic group student’s and family’s language Family’s functioning, structure, and roles Student’s and family’s health history Attitudes toward health and illness Student’s and family’s needs, resources, and vulnerabilities Student’s and family’s acculturation Community’s resources

18 Recommendations on working with Ethnic Minority Students (Sattler)
Areas to consider: Personal stereotypes Establishing rapport Communication Student’s and family’s perspectives Consultation skills

19 Recommendations on working with Ethnic Minority Students (Sattler)
Areas to consider: Problems associated with poverty low aspirations that often leads to hostility towards mainstream society and apathy, school failure, or withdrawal delays in development (including delays in language, reasoning ability, and interpersonal relations).

20 Children Living in Poverty 2005 Census Bureau statistics

21 Federal Definition: Emotional Disturbance
A condition exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time and to a marked degree that adversely affects a child’s educational performance…

22 Characteristics… An inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers. Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances A general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems. The term includes schizophrenia. The term does not apply to children who are socially maladjusted, unless it is determined that they have an emotional disturbance" (CFR §300.7)(a)(9).

23 Difficulties with the Federal Definition
Definitions are vague - “What ever that means” -Gresham CASP Convention 2007 “…wide variability among states is most likely due, in part, to confusion, ambiguities, and differences in definitions and interpretations of the meaning of emotional disturbance”. -Best Practices in Assessment for Intervention (2007).

24 More problems: Clinical diagnoses Case law Differential diagnoses
Often play critical part in our determination of eligibility A clinical diagnosis neither guarantees or eliminates a student from receiving services Case law Often times case law defines course of action in the assessment and eligibility determination Differential diagnoses As practitioners we are faced with differential diagnoses State and District policies Best Practices

25 More problems: The interpretations of the definitions are based upon
an individual’s training (where and by whom) experience personal perspective The degree of difficulty we have with applying what we know about the child to the criteria is in direct proportion to training comprehensiveness of the assessment

26 “..children, adolescents and families are subjected to widely varying philosophies, assessment procedures and services based upon questionable criteria used to determine whether a student ‘qualifies’ for services under the Serious Emotional Disturbance (SED) designation”. -Olympia et. al. 2004

27 Add to That… This leads to…
Lack of training in multi-cultural considerations Lack of awareness of multi-cultural considerations This happens with the teacher and the school psychologist This leads to… RECIEPE FOR INAPPROPRIATE ELIGIBILITY REFERRAL AND/OR DETERMINATION

28 “Children with emotional and/or behavioral disorders are a diverse group whose difficulties exist along a continua of intensity, duration, and frequency of occurrence…The impact of the behavior on the student’s education progress must be the guiding principle for identification.” “Environmental factors: The people and systems that impact the student and the relationship between the instruction, social and community environment and the specific difficulties demonstrated by the student.”

29 …Developmental and cultural functioning: The student’s current developmental status and the extent to which the student’s behavior is different from the behavior expected for children of the same age, culture, and ethnic background;” -NASP Position Paper


31 Posey, Easler and Nackos’ Operational Definitions of the Conditions of Federal Code (2009)
An extended period of time means: One month 6 to 8 weeks 6 months 2 to 9 months Undefined All of the above (DISCUSSION)

32 Answer: F) All of the above
One month The Devereux Scales of Mental Disorders (DSMD) Behavioral Assessment Scales for Children and Adolescents 2 (BASC 2) require that the rater has been involved with the student for at least one month. Six to Eight weeks The BASC 2 allows a rater who has not had daily contact with the student have worked with that student for at least this period of time

33 Answer: F) all of the above
Six months (generally excepted practice) Believed to be based upon time conditions found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) Supported by the new language found in Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which states the “impairment” has to last six months or longer 2 – 9 months OSEP statement “Assuming regular interventions are unsuccessfully implemented over that time”. Epstein says at least 2 months for the SAED

34 Answer: F) all of the above
Federal and State codes read, “…for an extended period of time.” Any interpretation is speculation All of the above Six moths is believed to be the yardstick that most practitioners use Rule of thumb – anywhere between 3 – 6 months minimum 2 marking periods Need to look at triggering event to determine whether or not “extended period of time”

35 What constitutes ‘long’?
“Various periods (of time) have been proposed as the minimum duration for which an emotional and behavioral problem should be evident in order for it to qualify as an Emotional Disturbance Probably this duration varies for different characteristics”-Epstein & Cullinan (1998) SAED manual pg. 3 Bottom line – not set in stone! (subjective)

36 To a ‘Marked Degree’ is defined as?
P.I.T.A. behaviors On the student’s age/cognitive developmental continuum Outside the student’s age/cognitive developmental continuum Whatever the Principal says Undefined

37 Answers: C and E Real Answer is E Not defined in Federal Ed. Code but is generally considered to be behavior not logically connected to the triggering event.

38 Answers: C and E P.I.T.A. behaviors – On the developmental continuum
Pain in The A** behaviors closely related to D - Whatever the Principal says) Bothersome, annoying, “at-risk”, culturally related, gang involvement, learned behaviors, etc. Pimple vs. Boil On the developmental continuum (closely related to A) - Need to know characteristics on the developmental continuum Need to examine triggering event

39 Answers: C and E Outside the developmental continuum
Need to look at the triggering event to determine if outside the developmental/cognitive continuum E.D. students typically manifest behaviors similar to those of students several years younger and/or to a degree not expected Be careful with students from other cultures, students residing in foster/group homes, or those with psychopathology Whatever the Principal says Pressure from the principal (a.k.a. Otherwise know as the “Coroner Attitude” Often P.I.T.A.)

40 Quotes to Consider… “……The student’s current developmental status and the extent to which the student’s behavior is different from the behavior expected for children of the same age, culture, and ethnic background.” -NASP Position statement on students with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders “The intent of the modifier ‘marked degree’ is to emphasize that the child must show emotional and behavioral problems that are more extreme than ordinary in order to be considered for the ED special education category” - Epstein & Cullinan (1998) SAED manual pg. 3

41 ‘Adversely Impacted’ means?
Poor grades Poor social interactions Poor behaviors in only structured settings Failure to turn in homework Poor performance on a statewide test Lack of progress in meeting grade level standards What ever the parent’s attorney says All of the above

42 ‘Adversely Impacted’ is not defined in Federal or State Code
Literature, Due Process decisions, and court cases say we need to look at the following 4 categories when determining: Educational performance Social interactions Interpersonal relationships Interpersonal adjustments

43 Educational performance includes:
Test scores Task completion Time on task Standardized and state wide test scores Attendance Classroom performance

44 Social interactions include:
Working with others in classrooms assignments Working with others in playground or P.E. activities Interactions with others in school Interactions with others outside of school Community Church May include sub-cultural activities with others

45 Interpersonal relationships include:
Closely related to Social interactions Looks at the quality and depth of those social interactions

46 Interpersonal adjustment includes:
Coping with events Social skills to address stressful events Self-esteem Asserting self Confidence -Letter to Lillie/Felton 23IDLER 714/23 LRP 3420 April 6, 1995

47 ‘Adversely Affects’ “The term ‘adversely affects’ is used in the Part B regulations at 34 CFR in the phrase ‘adversely affects a child’s educational performance’. …..a child’s educational performance must be determined on an individual basis, and should include non-academic and academic skills. Since the measurement of ‘educational performance’ is different for each child, the Department has not developed a single definition for this term. Similarly, the term ‘adversely affects’ must be determined on an individual basis”. -Office of Special Education Programs: Thomas Hehir, Director

48 Court Decision on ‘Adversely Impacts’
“As to the qualifying condition for being seriously emotionally disturbed; while Petitioner’s academic performance is below her potential, she is able to learn; she has satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers; she exhibits inappropriate behavior in falling asleep in school but this is not inappropriate ‘to a marked degree’; … The mistrust and antipathy she feels towards her family is not necessarily inappropriate in that often adolescents feel alienated from their families. Petitioner exhibits a mood of unhappiness or depression at home but not at school; thus such mood is not pervasive. She has developed physical symptoms associated with personal or school problems.

49 Court Decision (continued)
However, because there was no real plan described to cope with the physical symptoms, it cannot be determined that such symptoms were present to a marked degree. Petitioner’s case presentation was based in large part on her low academic performance. There is no question that Petitioner’s emotional problems are adversely affecting her educational performance; adverse impact, however, is not sufficient to establish a need for special education.” - Berkley USD Hearing Decision

Includes all areas the student should be learning and growing in during the school day (which encompasses door to door) Districts define “adversely impacts” differently

51 To a “marked degree” may be manifested as:
poor school work reduced academic achievement difficulty making decisions less than appropriate verbal skills doesn’t accept consequences difficulty following directions Remember this when working with students of color and how these may tie into behaviors and attitudes associated with their culture.

52 Cultural Implications – African Americans
These students enter school with academic skills behind Caucasian students The gap increases during their academic career Often refuse to engage in academic achievement Devalue education Have the highest grade retention Often refuse to study and give up

53 Cultural Implications - African Americans (continued)
Disillusionment with idea that education can lead to success Research suggests there is differential expectations and treatment by teachers and administrators in the areas of lower academics and poor behavior “…black students are about 1½ times more likely than white students to be classified in this category" -(Minority Students in Special and Gifted Education, National Research Council, 2002)

54 Cultural Implications - Hispanic
Desire to help families may supersede desire to exceed in school Manifest many behaviors associated with low academic achievement High rate of dropouts Perform significantly lower academically than Caucasians across grades and subjects

55 Cultural Implications - Native Americans
Exhibit learning styles that differ from other students Indifference to work ethic

56 Implications of Poverty
Minorities are more likely to be poor "Being" poor increases exposure to risk factors that compromise early development Compromised early development impinges on school preparedness and suppresses academic achievement, heightening the need for special education Thus minorities are more likely to warrant special education Statically, disadvantaged children do not have the opportunity to experience quality early-childhood education As a consequence, they come to school poorly prepared and not ready to learn, and thus are more likely to be placed in Special Education classes at an early age

57 Implications of Poverty
Impoverished minority children are more likely to attend poorly funded school that are less likely to have experienced, well-trained teachers. “Per-student expenditures in those schools are often lower, while the needs of poor children require higher levels of per-pupil expenditure, better trained, more experienced teachers who can deliver high-quality instruction while practicing effective classroom management that minimizes chaos, rather than reaching for the Special Education referral form”.

58 Implications of Poverty
The "weight of successful development in the early years falls most heavily on the child's relationships with primary adult caregivers" (NRC, 2002, p. 121) Parent-child interactions are usually "less than optimal” within impoverished homes and the “interactions embedded therein can be "negative.” This relationship can effect a child on a number of dimensions, including verbal interactions, literacy tasks, disciplinary practices, and parenting approaches -(e.g., Garrett, Ng'andu, & Perron, 1994; Hoff- Ginsberg & Tardiff, 1995).

59 A) An inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors.

60 Often times what appears as an inability to learn is thought of as E
Often times what appears as an inability to learn is thought of as E.D… Did you consider?? Specific learning disability Other Health Impaired When you DON’T know it all… keep reading ask questions Call on colleagues, friends, family Once you think you know it all… Keep reading Ask questions

61 B) Inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers.

62 What it Looks Like… May be manifested as ineffective social skills
Misperception of social cues May experience peer rejection to a greater degree Manifest self-centered behaviors Inability to self monitor Blames others Easily embarrassed Social withdrawal

63 Cultural Implications -African Americans
Develop identities in opposition to mainstream or “white” culture and engage in behaviors that are potentially deleterious to success in school Research suggests these students have a “racial identity attitude” assumption that “whites do not have the best interests of A.A.s at heart Poorly developed social skills when compared to other cultures in the school setting Inadequate school and community supports Not trusting of others

64 Cultural Implications for Hispanics
Prefer closer distances (sometimes seen as invading personal space) Often interacting with students in an aggressive manner

65 C) Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances.

66 Cultural Implications - African Americans
Abilities often expressed in streetwise behaviors Behavioral manifestations result in high suspension and expulsion rates Gang involvement Fears of violence, crime and incarceration Adopt a “racial role” which is one marked by resistance, suspicion and caution Behavior is oppositional to the work of school Lack a serious attitude toward school work

67 Cultural Implications - African Americans (continued)
Black hostility can erupt towards whites - either students or teachers Development of an oppositional cultural style Brash, loud, in your face style of responding Tend to spontaneously manifest their emotions Tend to be spontaneously verbally expressive and direct Feeling of hostility towards “whites”

68 Cultural Implications - African Americans (continued)
Tend to get close and touch during their expressions Tend to express subjective and passionate interpretation of others’ actions Aggressive and emotionally charged behavior may be expected at home and in the community

69 Cultural Implications - Hispanic
Prefer closer distances sometimes seen as invading personal space by other cultures Manifest behaviors such as fighting and talking back to teachers Oppositional attitudes & school misbehaviors lead to suspension Non compliant and failing to immediately follow directions Affiliation with gangs in urban settings History of difficulties with the legal system

70 Cultural Implications - Native American
Indifference to ownership Cautious Careful listening and observation “Permissive” approach to child rearing which encourages self- exploration and autonomy Many react negatively to direct praise or criticism given in front of others (As such, responses are different than what one would expect) Carried a weapon at a rate 2xs greater than Caucasian students Significantly more likely to engage in behaviors resulting in unintentional injuries, violence, drug abuse and risky sexual behavior

71 D) A generalized pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression.

72 Cultural Implications - Hispanic
Prolonged eye contact may be considered disrespectful students tend to look down, especially when being reprimanded Less self disclosing may not speak directly about issues Drug and ETOH use associated with high level of failed classes Detentions, suspensions, expulsions placements in lower-ability groups referrals for special services dropout rates

73 Cultural Implications – Hispanics
Studies in the 90s suggest Hispanic students exhibit to a greater degree Timidity Fearfulness Depressive symptoms Separation anxiety Some Hispanic cultures demonstrate behaviors that are viewed the classroom as Dependent, passive and reticent This is appropriate in the home May not ask for help

74 Cultural Implications - Native Americans
Deliberate in their responses Do not respond rapidly to questions Many taught that making eye contact with an older person or questioning an older person is a sign of disrespect Suicide attempt rate is 3x greater than Caucasian students Medical treatment because of suicide attempts is 5x greater that Caucasian students Great frequency and onset at an early age of Drug and ETOH usage

75 A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems.
To date - Couldn’t find anything in the literature dealing with this and cultural considerations.

76 Points to Consider… What we as psychologists consider “discipline and emotional” problems are greatly influenced by Upbringing Values Training Attitudes Pressure from others Do we see the student objectively? Does the teacher see the student objectively?

77 How do the following influence your assessment and interpretation of the results? (Sattler)
How would the interpretation of the data from your assessment in these areas differ for the ‘culturally different’ student? Do you recognize how your standards affect your judgments? Can you determine the bases for your hypotheses? Are you aware of any speech patterns that may affect the intelligibility of your speech? Are you aware of the style or tone of your communications? Are you aware of stereotypes and personal biases that may cloud your judgments and distract you from listening objectively?

78 How do the following influence your assessment and interpretation of the results? (Sattler)
Are you aware of your body language and what your body language may convey to a child? Are you aware of any distracting mannerisms? Are you aware of any physical or mental conditions you have that may affect the assessment? Do you avoid certain issues that are uncomfortable for you or that are difficult for you to deal with? Are you uncomfortable with certain types of individuals?

79 Questions to Ask: Is the behavior within the student’s control?
Is the behavior situation specific or across settings? Is the behavior goal directed? What are the strengths of the student? To what extent is the behavior influenced by familial patterns? To what extent is the behavior influenced by community patterns? To what extent is the behavior influenced by peers?

80 More Questions to Ask… What recognition does the student get from the behavior? What is the history of the behavior? How does the behavior “fit” within the developmental continuum? Knowing what you do about the “cultural implications of the background of the student…is the behavior within expectations?

81 Things to remember: How have you incorporated the effects of the cultural, and poverty if appropriate, in your assessment? To what extent have you incorporated the student’s strengths into your assessment? To what extent are you yielding to the “Coroner’s attitude?”

82 Julie Miller, Graduate Student
Questions? Contact Information: Ray Easler, Ph.D. Kimberlie Cain, M.A., Ed.S. Julie Miller, Graduate Student

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