School Context and the Problem Behavior and Social Skills of Students with Emotional Disturbance

Wiley, Andrew; Siperstein, Gary; Forness, Steven; Brigham, Frederick
August 2010
Journal of Child & Family Studies;Aug2010, Vol. 19 Issue 4, p451
Academic Journal
Variability in the social and behavioral characteristics of students with emotional disturbance (ED) in the public schools may impact special education effectiveness; yet very little evidence exists on how such variability may express itself from school to school. One place to begin such investigation involves school context as expressed by income level and academic performance. In this study, we selected 140 children (grades kindergarten through 6) receiving special education services for ED in schools in a large east-coast urban area. We gathered school-wide test results from state achievement testing and school poverty levels from eligibility for free or reduced lunch on each school. For each child, we collected teacher ratings of problem behavior and social skills. Findings from regression analyses revealed significant relationships between school context and children’s externalizing and internalizing behavior. We discuss the implications of these findings for the concept of ED as a unitary disability category in special education research and practice.


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