It is well documented that youth with or at-risk for emotional and behavioral disorders (E/BD) have severe deficits in their academic functioning. To begin to address these deficits, we focus on the need to close the opportunity gap by providing access to multi-tiered systems of academic prevention, maximizing academic learning time, and providing explicit instruction for youth with E/BD. We offer recommended positive behavior interventions and supports necessary to improve engagement in instruction. Closing the achievement gap using multi-tiered academic supports requires best practices for universal screening and diagnostic assessment to understand youth academic needs. We detail the key elements of explicit instruction directly linked to improved academic performance. We conclude with alterable instruction factors for intensifying instruction and emphasize the need for intensive language instruction for the majority of youth with E/BD.