A retrospective study of students at risk for emotional and/or behavioral disorders

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Teaching and Learning

First Committee Member

Marjorie Montague - Committee Chair


The purpose of this study was to determine which school factors were related to the placement of students into high-incidence special education programs (i.e., emotional and/or behavioral disorders, specific learning disabilities, and educable mental handicaps). School records for 21 students placed in high-incidence special education programs (SE) were compared to school records for 21 students who were not placed in these programs (No SE). All 42 students were previously identified as being at high, moderate, or low risk for developing emotional/behavioral disorders when they were in kindergarten or first grade. This study specifically addressed the following questions: (1) What school variable or combination of school variables best differentiates the SE group from the No SE group? (2) Which school variable(s) best predicts group membership? Predictor variables were systematically collected using a slightly modified version of the School Archival Records Search (SARS; Walker, Block-Pedego, Todis, & Severson, 1991).Eight continuous predictor variables were analyzed using discriminant analysis procedures (Tabachnick & Fidell, 2001). Initial analyses suggested that the groups could be discriminated if four variables (i.e., Grade Retention Cluster, Disciplinary Contacts Cluster, Referrals Out of School Cluster, and Attendance Cluster) were removed from the analyses. After removing these variables from the analyses, significant differences were SE group had lower academic achievement than the No SE group; also, the SE group had more negative narrative comments from students' cumulative records than from records of students in the No SE group. Taking the analyses a step further, the L-O-V-O technique revealed Negative Narrative Comments Cluster as the best predictor of group membership, followed by Academic Cluster. Furthermore, two types of disciplinary consequences were significantly different between the two groups: conferencing with the student, and letter to the parent. Findings suggest that students at risk for special education referral and placement can be identified through their school records, particularly with the amount of negative narrative comments and degree of academic underachievement. Once these students are identified, early intervention efforts to offset their failing school paths should begin, particularly during the pre-referral stage.


Education, Special

Link to Full Text


Link to Full Text