Peer Support Strategies for Improving All Students' Social Lives and Learning / Edition 1

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Peer supports really work: they're a great, efficient way to help all students learn, make the most of teacher/ paraprofessional time, and increase the achievement level of challenging students. This is the concise, practical guide every middle and high school needs to implement peer support strategies—including cooperative learning and peer tutoring—to benefit students with moderate to severe disabilities and their peers.

With this reader-friendly, step-by-step planning guide from the foremost authorities on peer supports, educators, paraprofessionals, and other school staff will

  • discover how peer supports are a "two-way street," boosting the academic outcomes, social skills, and self-esteem of students with disabilities and the peers who support them
  • determine which students might benefit most from peer supports
  • recruit and match the students most likely to form mutually beneficial relationships
  • develop effective support plans that promote access to the general curriculum
  • work peer supports into IEP goals to meet state and national academic standards
  • give students the training and guidance they need to approach their support roles with confidence and enthusiasm
  • clarify the responsibilities of everyone involved in a peer support system: students, general and special educators, paraprofessionals and other school staff
  • provide peers with constructive ongoing feedback
  • extend peer supports to school activities and extracurricular events
  • evaluate the social and academic impact of peer support arrangements

A complete, start-to-finish guide to peer supports, this book is packed with photocopiable planning, implementation, and evaluation tools; evidence-based strategies; and vignettes that illustrate successful peer supports.

With this must-have book on one of the hottest topics in inclusive education, educators and paraprofessionals will create schools where all students—with and without disabilities—help each other reach their academic goals, make new friends, and live full and meaningful lives.

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Editorial Reviews

Michael F. Giangreco

"Convey[s] a hopeful perspective and genuine excitement about our opportunities to improve the quality of life for students with disabilities."
University of Wyoming - Martin Agran
"Soundly based on research, the book provides practical recommendations and presents clear demonstrations on how peers can serve as an invaluable support in general education."
University of New Mexico - Susan R. Copeland
"An exciting and practical book! A &#39must-have' for middle and high school educators wanting to enhance their students' learning outcomes."
Professor Emeritus from California State University, Northridge - June E. Downing
"A very practical how-to guide . . . truly comprehensive and well researched."
Professor, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia, Charlottesville - Marti Snell
"A tested road map for getting to peer support in real schools. This book is a winner!"
Instructor, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque - Nitasha M. Clark
"Bridge[s] research and practice by outlining the practical, step-by-step strategies for establishing Peer Support arrangements in inclusive settings."
The Midwest Book Review
"A recommended read especially for school administrators."
Education Reviews
"Fills the gap as far as peer support mechanisms are concerned and provides hands on techniques for a teacher or administrator seeking to implement inclusive policies in the here and now."
Inetellectual and Developmental Disabilities
"If used well, this work has the potential to change the face of adult support in inclusive education today."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781557668431
  • Publisher: Brookes, Paul H. Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 12/1/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 1,266,561
  • Product dimensions: 8.40 (w) x 10.90 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Erik W. Carter, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Special Education, University of Wisconsin–Madison, 432 East Campus Mall, Madison, Wisconsin 53706

Dr. Carter’s research, teaching, and writing focus on effective strategies for including youth andyoung adults with disabilities meaningfully in schools and communities. He is the author ofIncluding People with Disabilities in Faith Communities: A Guide for Service Providers,Families, and Congregations (Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co., 2007) and co-author of PeerBuddy Programs for Successful Secondary School Inclusion (Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.,2008) and The Transition Handbook: Strategies High School Teachers Use That Work! (Paul H.Brookes Publishing Co., 2000). Prior to receiving his doctorate from Vanderbilt University, hewas a high school transition teacher in San Antonio, Texas.

Lisa S. Cushing, Ph.D., BCBA, Associate Professor, Department of Special Education,University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), 3233 EPASW, 1040 West Harrison Street, Chicago, Illinois60607

Dr. Cushing holds a doctorate in special education from the University of Oregon. Before hertenure at UIC, Dr. Cushing served as a Research Assistant Professor in the Department ofSpecial Education of Peabody College at Vanderbilt University and an Assistant ResearchProfessor at the Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities at the University of SouthFlorida. She has published more than 20 journal articles and book chapters in the areas of peersupports, social interaction, instructional supports, access to the general education, transition,secondary education, inclusion, technical assistance, and positive behavior supports. She sits onthe editorial board for The Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions. Prior to working in academia,Dr. Cushing was a special educator for students with significant disabilities in Hawaii.

Craig H. Kennedy, Ph.D., BCBA, Chair, Special Education Department, and Professor ofSpecial Education and Pediatrics, Box 328, Peabody College, Vanderbilt University, Nashville,Tennessee 37203

Dr. Kennedy is Chair of the Special Education Department and Professor of Special Educationand Pediatrics at Vanderbilt University and is a Vanderbilt Kennedy Center Investigator. He alsois Director of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Behavior Analysis Clinic. Dr. Kennedy received a masterof science degree in special education and rehabilitation from the University of Oregon and adoctorate in special education with an emphasis in quantitative sociology from the University ofCalifornia, Santa Barbara.

Dr. Kennedy has published more than 140 scholarly works, including the book Single-CaseDesigns for Educational Research (Allyn & Bacon, 2005). He has served as Associate Editor ofthe Journal of Applied Behavioral Analysis, Journal of Behavioral Education, and Journal ofThe Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps.

He is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and Secretary of the Board of Trustees of theSociety for the Experimental Analysis of Behavior. He is a member of the American Associationon Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Association for Behavior Analysis, Society forNeuroscience, and TASH. He also serves on the editorial boards of many highly respected peer-reviewedjournals.

In 1991, Dr. Kennedy received TASH’s Alice H. Hayden Award, and in 1993, he received theB.F. Skinner New Research Award from the American Psychological Association, Division 25.He was also recognized in 2003 for his research excellence by Peabody College at VanderbiltUniversity.

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Read an Excerpt

Excerpted from Peer Support Strategies for Improving All Students' Social Lives and Learning
By Erik W. Carter, Ph.D., Lisa S. Cushing, Ph.D., & Craig H. Kennedy, Ph.D.
©2009. Brookes Publishing. All rights reserved.


Peer support arrangements are a promising approach for promoting access to rigorous, relevantlearning experiences; expanding opportunities for students to establish new relationships withtheir peers; and helping educators and paraprofessionals to support inclusive education moreeffectively. Put simply, these intervention strategies involve arranging for one or more peerswithout disabilities to provide ongoing social and academic support to their classmates withsevere disabilities while receiving guidance and support from paraprofessionals, special educators,and/or general educators (Carter, Cushing, & Kennedy, 2008; Carter & Kennedy, 2006;Cushing & Kennedy, 1997). Recognizing that peers are an underutilized—but widely availabl&emdash;source of natural support in every school, peer support arrangements draw upon the involvementof other classmates to assist in helping students with disabilities participate more fully inthe social and learning opportunities existing in inclusive classrooms, extracurricular clubs, andother school activities.

Peer-mediated approaches—in which students assume instructional or other support roleswith their classmates—have been a staple intervention strategy in classrooms for as long as therehave been schools (Harper & Maheady, 2007). Indeed, countless variations on these approachesexist—ranging from informal, casual pairingsof students to more structured, intentionalsystems (Gillies, 2007). As these strategieshave been tested in the classroom andrefined through research, a powerful andeffective set of techniques have emerged foruse with students with disabilities (e.g.,Goldstein, Schneider, & Thiemann, 2007;Heron, Villareal, Ma, Christianson, & Heron,2006; Maheady, Harper, & Mallette, 2001).Although peer support arrangements sharethe strong theoretical and empirical supportof other peer-mediated strategies, they also differ in important ways. First, in peer supportarrangements, somewhat greater emphasis typically is placed on exchanging social support,encouraging peer interactions, and promoting social connections. Social goals are often prominentin the IEPs of students with severe disabilities, and general education participation frequentlyis advocated for as an avenue for meeting these goals. Second, unlike other peer-mediatedinterventions in which all participating students assume very structured or static roles (e.g., Classwide Peer Tutoring [Greenwood, Arreaga-Mayer, Utley, Gavin, & Terry, 2001], Peer AssistedLearning Strategies [McMaster, Fuchs, & Fuchs, 2006]), educators are encouraged to individuallytailor peer support interventions so that theyreflect the unique support needs, strengths,and characteristics of participating studentswith disabilities and their peers. Third, peersupport arrangements usually are not implementedas classwide interventions and thusinvolve a smaller number of peers. Fourth,most peer-mediated interventions weredeveloped primarily for students with highincidencedisabilities such as learning disabilitiesor emotional or behavior disorders(Gardner, Nobel, Hessler, Yawn, & Heron,2007). Recognizing that the academic and social support needs of students with severe disabilitiesmay be more intensive, peer support arrangements typically offer a more sustained andfocused source of support. Finally, peer support interventions are designed to be implemented ininclusive contexts. Self-contained classrooms or segregated school activities simply do not offerthe same depth of natural support available in inclusive environments.

Core Components

Because peer support interventi

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Table of Contents

About the Authors



  1. Social Relationships, Inclusion, and Access to the General Curriculum
  2. The Practice and Promise of Peer Support Interventions
  3. Crafting Effective Support Plans
  4. Identifying Peer Support Participants
  5. Equipping Students to Provide Academic and Social Support
  6. Implementing Peer Supports in the Classroom
  7. Evaluating Student Progress
  8. Epilogue: How Far Can We Go?


Appendix: Photocopiable Forms


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