Educating students with emotional disturbances: A national perspective on school programs and services

Mary Wagner, Marilyn Friend, William D. Bursuck, Krista Kutash, Albert J. Duchnowski, W. Carl Sumi, Michael H. Epstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

112 Scopus citations


This article provides a national perspective on the schools and school programs for students with emotional disturbances (ED) who are served in special education, using nationally representative data from the Special Education Elementary Longitudinal Study (SEELS) and the National Longitudinal Transition Study-2 (NLTS2). The authors describe school characteristics and resources; educational programs, services, and supports; and students' experiences in general education academic classes and note differences among students with ED at the elementary, middle, and high school grade levels. Based on available data, the authors were able to make some comparisons with students with disabilities other than ED who received special education services and with students without disabilities. For example, findings suggest that (a) students with ED attend larger schools with higher proportions of students who receive special education services than is true for U.S. schools as a whole; (b) although most of these students spend some time in general education classrooms, they are included in such classes less often than students with other disabilities and are likely to have teachers who feel unprepared to work with them; and (c) they are likely to receive accommodations in those classes but are unlikely to receive academic support services, such as tutoring, to help them succeed. Mental health and family support services are not commonly provided for these students, and most academic and behavioral supports are less common at the high school level than at the elementary or middle school levels. The authors conclude with implications for mental health and special education communities and for their collaboration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12-30
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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