This despite the duration of the study. The

This article offers to
examine the relationship between highly qualified teachers and the academic
achievement of students with emotional or behavioral disorders (EBD). Although
the topic was quite interesting, the article had various significant flaws that
will be further discussed. The author cites Wayne and Young (2003), and Harris
and Sass (2011) to have found positive relations between highly qualified
teachers (teachers’ level of education, certification completion, years of
teaching experience) and academic improvement for students EBD, but Greenbaum
et al. (1996) has found no difference. The problem indicates the need to
examine the relationship between highly qualified teachers and academic improvement
for students with EBD. With the national wide shortage of special education
teachers, it has been assumed that the lack of teacher qualifications may be
the result of academic failure for students with EBD (Gage, Adamson, MacSuga-Gage,
& Lewis, p. 215). In addition, previous studies found that “students with
EBD are entering into special education services with profiles that typically
indicate below average academic performance (Gage et al., 2017, p. 220).  With the data collection from students with
special needs which analyzed school experiences from one grade level to the
next over a period in time, failed to capture the reasons why students with EBD
continued failing academically despite the duration of the study. The authors
cite Gage et al. (2017) stating that perhaps “the need to pinpoint variables
that directly impact the achievement of the students” (p. 220) need to be
further researched.

Purpose of Study

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  The purpose of this qualitative study was to
explore the relationship between highly qualified teachers and the achievement
of students with EBD over an extended period of time. The article hopes to
address the gap by examining ways to make the connection between teacher
characteristics and academic achievement for students with EBD by using the Special
Education Elementary Longitudinal Study (SEELS) to further analyze the
relationship between both teachers qualification and academic achievement for
EBD students in order “to explore questions where there is little known or to
explore questions that may have been examined in other contexts” (Byrne, 2017).
While the authors cite Wayne and Young (2003), and Harris and Sass (2011) stating
they found a positive relation between teachers’ experience and academic growth
for students with EBD, the authors failed to provide concrete evidence between the
impact of highly qualified teachers and the growth rate of academic achievement
of  students with EBD. In the end, there
were too many factors  the was created a
hindrance towards the study which warrants further research.

Research question

The research question asks
to what extent does the level of instruction, or the number of years educating
students with EBD relate to the increase of students academic growth. In other
words, the authors suggest students with qualified teachers are likely to
increase in academic growth. According to Gage et al. (2017), “the findings
were null” and furthermore, there were no differences between teachers
educational training and students’ accomplishments over time. However, there
were implications that contributing factors may have resulted in a different
outcome, such as teacher shortage and EBD students entering school with low
academic scores.  

Conceptual Framework

SEELS is a national assessment
that collects data samples from students in special education. SEELS is the
conceptual framework used to guide this study. SEELS has collected over 5 years
(2001-2006) of samples from students with special needs, parent interviews,
school personnel survey, family household composition, teacher survey, academic
achievement, students’ level of functioning and direct assessment. Samples for
the direct assessment includes measurement of students academic levels,
self-perception and school climate. SEELS database was used to collect data
from teachers through interviewing and asking questions such as how long they
worked as a teacher, what was their level of certification and the degree they
have earned. Although research efforts were made to distinquish if teacher
level education, experience and length in teaching was due to EBD students
academic achievement, the data only showed the changes in growth, which were
due to various teacher characteristics at different levels with very little
change in academic achievement for students with EBD.


While studies by Wayne and
Young (2003), and Harris and Sass (2011) attempted to justify the relation
between teachers’ experience and academic growth for students with EBD, Greenbaum
et al. (1996) has found the evidence unwarranted. Furthermore, methodological
issues raise questions about the findings. For example, Wayne and Young’s
(2003) findings were obtained from various sources that were suspect, allowing
the author to suggest the outcome be analyzed with caution without any further
implications. Harris and Sass’s (2011) findings were mixed results between the
increase in academic achievement with no association from the teachers’ level
of education, and the growth in academic achievement based on the teachers’
level of education. Greenbaum et al. (1996) reported different findings that suggest
students with EBD struggle tremendously with academics over a period of time.

In a recent “follow-up
study, Siperstein, Wiley, and Forness (2011) followed 86 students with EBD for
2 years from low-SES schools and high-SES schools and found that, although
differences were evident at initial status, the students made no statistically
significant improvement in academic achievement across time” (p. 214).


Whether these findings would
be appropriate in another context, the utilization of SEELS failed to capture the
correlation between teacher characteristics and academic achievement for
students with EBD. Perhaps the act of gathering self-reported data has its
limitations in itself based on reliable verification of the actual information.
For example, teachers completed the SEELS Teacher Interviews for their students
in which they reported on individual students overall educational performance.
Hence, the teacher reporting this information was not the only teacher
instructing that student. Such report can attribute to the exaggeration on academic
achievements which can cause misrepresentation than what was really being
proposed from the data. Teachers can also suggest that it was their years of
teaching experience that assisted with the improvement of students with EBD. Such
factors may hinder the results from the research findings on whether the
teachers’ characteristics improve academic performance for students with emotional
or behavioral disorders.

Eliminating Potential Flaws

of the biggest problems  regarding this
article was the lack of substantial evidence as it relates to the research
question to what extent does the level of teacher qualification and years of
experience increase students academic achievement for students with EBD. For
the authors to rely on the findings of previous researchers who clearly was
unable to provide evidence on the positive relation between teachers experience
and education and the increase of academic achievement for students with EBD
overtime, weakened researchers their credibility. Furthermore, the authors
imply that without the contributing factors, the results would have been

A recent article on teaching
academic skills to students pointed out, “the growing focus on academic
learning of students with EBD and the supposed relationship between behavioral
problems and academic functioning” (Kamp, Pijl, Bijstra, & Bosch, 2014,
p.31), may be that teachers need additional support from school leaders in
order to successfully implement effective instructional practices, and changing
their own metacognition about teaching students with EBD. Perhaps addressing
the above factors, “may be more important than teaching experience, licensure
status, and advanced degrees when seeking to improve these students’ academic performances” (Gage et
al., 2017, p.220).