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Nicolette Riley, Stephanie Flores-Koulish, Ph.D.

The Effect of Academic Support Programs on Social-Emotional Development

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The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 increased requirements for teaching and testing in public schools. All schools were striving for 100% proficiency for all students in certain subjects by the 2013-2014 school year. Students with disabilities had their scores reported separately as to not have any scores ignored. There has been an increasing amount of material available for educators about students with learning differences. In 1996, Lyon reported that 5% of all students in public schools identified as having a learning disability. As this population increases, there has also been more inclusion of students with learning disabilities in mainstream classrooms. There has not been an increase in teacher education about classroom differentiation with inclusion of students with learning disabilities. Some teachers have argued that they do not feel adequately prepared for the type of differentiation necessary for an equitable classroom environment. Patkin argues that there should be more research surrounding the effectiveness of inclusion for the students with learning disabilities. Lyon mentioned that learning disabilities can fall into different categories relating to reading, language, and math. These categories can sometimes become compounded with social, emotional, and or behavioral developmental delays or disorders. In 1997, Harrington found that students with learning disabilities did not make satisfactory progress academically nor socially. In response to the research presented, some Maryland private schools have programs for students with learning disabilities. One of the programs only accepts students with language-based learning disabilities.

The purpose of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of academic support programs and students’ social-emotional development. The goal was to determine if formal support of students’ social-emotional development was necessary for students with learning disabilities. Some students with learning disabilities included in the mainstream classroom may feel separation from their classmates. This separation may affect the social-emotional development of students with learning disabilities. They may have less relationship with peers outside of those in academic support programs. This may lead difficulty when transitioning out of high school. Students within academic support programs should be receiving support through academic and social-emotional development. As students accepted into these programs remain throughout all four years of high school, the program should support all transitions during this time. This should be a part of the skills taught throughout the four years. The students would learn skills to work through academic and social-emotional problems. The literature examined showed that students with learning disabilities may have difficulties in social situations. Harrington noted that students with learning disabilities were not making satisfactory growth socially. Support programs that grow with students should support the whole student. Without this support, the program is supporting a necessary part of the student’s development but missing an important part of a high school student’s development. It was found that academic support programs would benefit from including a social-emotional support aspect to their already well-developed curriculum.

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