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The Administrator Experience with Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders in Comprehensive High Schools: A Phenomenological Study
AdvisorTaylor, Shanon S.
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This was a qualitative phenomenological study conducted in a state in the western United States. The study explored comprehensive high school administrator experiences with students with EBD with the purpose of developing a holistic description of which experiences and descriptions were shared between participants and what participants held to be the most meaningful elements of their experiences. Nine comprehensive high school administrators from seven schools, having between one and >15 years of experience as administrators and from schools serving over 1,000 students, were interviewed on this topic using a semi-structured interview format. A qualitative analytic coding process was used to analyze interview transcripts, resulting in six themes: definitions of and attitudes toward students with EBD, positive experiences, views on success, negative experiences, administrator actions and interventions, and perception of impact and relationships. An inter-rater reliability check was completed with a Cohen’s Kappa score of k= .786, indicating a high level of agreement between researchers. Agreement between administrator experiences on positive and compassionate attitude toward students with EBD, feeling ownership of these students in the school, mostly positive experiences with students with EBD, frustration with lack of adequate supports for students with EBD, and a belief that administrator impact on students with EBD primarily took place in person was found. Administrators were also found to agree on salient and meaningful elements of their experiences with students with EBD, including treating students with EBD like any other student, having clear and consistent boundaries, individualizing supports, building relationships with students with EBD, and being proactive in supporting these students. Differences in administrator experiences comprised definitions of students with EBD, views on what constitutes success for these students, in which order to address academic and behavioral needs, and the extent to which they had an impact on students with EBD and how that impact was made.