Feb 15, 2019, Education Week: Disruptions Are Rising in the Early Grades. But Teachers and Administrators See the Problem Differently http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/District_Dossier/2019/02/early_grade_disruption_is_increasing_teachers_not_trained.html [Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) and Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS)] Teachers, principals, and district leaders all agree that behavioral disruptions have increased in grades K through 5 in recent years…. In a new report called "Breaking Bad Behavior: The Rise of Classroom Disruptions in Early Grades and How Districts Are Responding, a survey of nearly 2,000 teachers, principals, school staff, and district-level administrators reveals telling differences. The types of disruptive behaviors identified in the survey include tantrums, oppositional defiance, bullying, verbal abuse, and physical violence directed at both students and staff. The survey and report were done by EAB, a Washington-based research firm. One of the more telling findings in the survey is the disconnect between administrators and those closest to students. All the district administrators who responded to the survey, for example, reported having PBIS policies in their districts, while just a little more than half of the teachers said they were using those practices frequently or very frequently in their classrooms. And 93 percent of districts said they had an SEL curriculum, while only a quarter of teachers said they were using SEL in their classes. And training in those practices varied. While 63 percent of teachers said they were trained in PBIS, only 27 percent said they were trained in trauma-informed care, and 33 percent in restorative practices. A little more than half said they were trained in de-escalation techniques. … Educators Say Disruptions Are More Frequent Among educators surveyed, 36 percent of district administrators said classroom disruptions were significantly more now than they were three years ago, while 38 percent of teachers said the same. But classroom-based educators and administrators were on different ends of the spectrum when it came to the percentage of students who they said were exhibiting those behaviors. District and school administrators said they thought that six and eight percent of students, respectively, were exhibiting severe behavioral disruptions. General education and special education teachers put that percentage as high as 23 and 26 percent of students. One explanation for that gap could be the pressure school districts have been under to reduce suspensions and expulsions. As a result, teachers are left to deal with more of those discipline issues in their classrooms and fewer of those incidents are rising to the district level, Talbot said. … The survey data suggested that the problem was "more widespread than they realized, and it may be that teachers are suffering a little bit in silence because of some of the efforts to stem discipline referrals and suspensions...," he said. According to the survey, a quarter of teachers said that incidents of tantrums and oppositional defiance occurred several times a day. However, incidents of physical violence toward classmates as well as verbal and physical violence toward teachers and other adults were less likely to occur. And while educators agreed that a host of factors were responsible for the increase in disruptions, teachers were less likely than administrators to see a "history of trauma in the family" and untreated mental health conditions as the major reasons for students' behavior. … The longer paper contained a menu of options for districts to address behavioral issues in the early grades. They include early-intervention efforts, such as universal behavioral screenings and teacher-home visits, along with expanding play time for students, districtwide PBIS, and additional support for students with greater needs. It also explores reasons why some districts have been hesitant to use some of those programs—for example, there is worry from some administrators that universal screening might "label" too many students.
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