In a lot of ways, Georgia, and Atlanta Public Schools in particular are always early to the party. This school system is always willing to adopt new reforms ahead of many other school systems, particularly those in metro Atlanta. One of the most significant reforms that APS has adopted over recent years is the push for special needs students to be included in the regular education program whenever possible. SEBD and EBD students in particular have benefit from this push. This is significant because of the overrepresentation, and in many cases misdiagnosis, of Black Males as needing EBD or SEBD services. Prior to the last half decade if your child was labeled EBD or SEBD he or she was shipped down the hall to a self contained class or worse, to a behavior school. The impact of that classification meant that too many students were excluded from the regular education program, and thereby placed on the fast track to lifelong underachievement. APS realized that this was a problem and acted on it by moving toward a co-teaching/inclusion model of instruction for these students.
During my first two years of teaching I had a homeroom FULL of SEBD and EBD students. The kids’ behavior was like nothing I’d ever seen. They reacted angrily and sometimes violently to the slightest perceived slight from anyone. After homeroom these students were escorted by their teacher down to their classroom where they remained, out of sight and out of mind, for the entire school day. The teacher was responsible for teaching a mixed grouping ability levels, grade levels, and subjects in one room. So, an SEBD or EBD teacher would have to know math, science, language arts, and social studies for up to four different grade levels and be expected to teach all of the subjects in a single day to whoever happened to be in the class. Not only are the teachers dealing with nearly impossible demands for content delivery, they also expected to handle whatever behavioral complications may arise. That situation is unfair to everyone involved. The kids are going to be shortchanged because it’s almost impossible to teach 4 subjects to 3 different grade levels at the same time. The teacher is overwhelmed and overworked…even with a paraprofessional present.
Thankfully, a lot of the SEBD and EBD students are being moved into inclusion classes. Inclusion classes are essentially general education classes with two teachers; a general education content teacher and a special education teacher. All of the students in inclusion classes benefit from the presence of two individuals who share expertise and responsibility for content delivery, grades, and classroom management. I began working in inclusion settings roughly 4 years ago and I’ve loved it ever since. When everyone buys in to the program, students truly benefit.
Some students have trouble making the transition so self contained classes for EBD and SEBD students still exist. Special “behavior schools” are created for those students who have trouble functioning in a regular school setting. Students who are sent to special behavior schools often have social and emotional issues that require greater attention before they’re able to return to their home school. I work as instructional math coach in two such schools.
The self contained teachers are overwhelmed and usually under supported. NCLB doesn’t make concessions for bad behavior or social and emotional disturbances so teachers and students are still held to the same federal guidelines for academic performance as everyone else. In an effort to assist my teachers, the students they serve, and all self contained SEBD/EBD middle school teachers and students in Georgia I’ve developed a mixed middle school curriculum which is a modified version of the DOE Created Frameworks for Middle School Math. The curriculum combines elements from all three middle school grade levels and sequences them in such a way that attention is given to the most heavily weighted content strands. If a student transitions from a self contained class to an inclusion class or into a consultative setting and his or her teacher used this curriculum as a planning and pacing guide for mathematics then this student should not be behind academically…and in some cases may be ahead of his or her classmates.
The materials you find here include a curriculum map, integrated scope & sequence and pacing guide with content weights listed for each grade level, a vertical alignment chart, and modified GPS framework complete with tasks aligned to the revised curriculum.
Hopefully this can lighten the load of all of the SEBD and EBD teachers in the state of Georgia. Feel free to download, remix, re-distribute, criticize me for doing this, or ask questions about the curriculum and how it was developed.
This is only the first draft and I’ll continue to refine this curriculum and prepare drafts of curricula for self contained K-2 and 3-5 elementary students in the future.
*This curriculum and the changes I’ve made are NOT sanctioned or approved by the Georgia Department of Education but they WILL make the life of any self contained middle school math teacher in Georgia much easier.