Supporting Students with
Challenging Behaviors

Schools today are faced with tremendous challenges as they attempt to meet the social/emotional and academic needs of an increasingly diverse student body. Educators must be aware that student learning and behavior are inextricably linked. 

The Special Education Support Center, with support from OSPI, provides resources and training to help teachers and parents provide appropriate and effective learning experiences for students with challenging behaviors.

See also resources and courses that focus on:

Disabilities | Complex Needs | Special Ed Rules & Regs

Courtesy of CASEL

Schools that systematically address both academic and social/emotional learning (SEL) have shown increased student achievement when compared to schools that do not address both factors. Multi-tiered systems of support such as PBIS have been found to be successful in preventing disruptive behaviors and supporting students with behavioral issues. While developing a multi-tiered system school staffs must take care to create a culturally responsive environment so that cultural differences are not inappropriately viewed as a disability.

While multi-tiered systems tend to reduce disruptive behaviors and enable teachers to create safe learning environments, there remain some students who have emotional/behavioral disabilities that require additional supports.

 “Umbrella” terms such as emotional disturbance/disorders, behavioral disorders, or mental illness actually cover a wide range of specific conditions that differ from one another in their characteristics and treatment considerations.

Some students who have emotional/behavioral issues will qualify for special education, while other students with mental health issues may be protected under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. It is essential that schools provide appropriate evaluations to identify students and provide services under both special education and Section 504.