Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Special Education, Early Childhood & Prevention Science

Degree Program

Curriculum and Instruction, PhD

Committee Chair

Landrum, Tim

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Valentine, Jeffrey

Committee Member

Valentine, Jeffrey

Committee Member

Courtade, Ginevra

Committee Member

Hunter, William

Author's Keywords

students with emotional and behavioral disorders; academic achievement; meta-analysis; effect size


Extensive research has been conducted on students with emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD) and their rates of challenging behavior. Less attention has been given to their academic achievement and outcomes. Recent research examining outcomes for students with EBD has indicated that these students receive lower grades, are less likely to pass classes, and experience higher rates of school dropout than students without disabilities and students with other high incidence disabilities. Given that between 2% and 20% of the school-age population is likely to have EBD (though many may not be identified as such), this is no small problem. Despite the need for increased examination of this population’s academic achievement, research on the actual performance of students with EBD has been minimal. This study reports the results of a meta-analysis of the academic achievement of students with EBD, including effect sizes of assessment scores and discussion of moderators potentially impacting academic outcomes. Researchers conducted a thorough literature search to identify potentially relevant documents before screening studies for inclusion in the systematic review. Screening identified 16 studies that reported results of academic assessment scores for students with EBD and another 12 studies that have partial results and may be usable in the future. These studies were coded to extract data across multiple descriptive domains, including school context, placement of students, student demographics, and academic assessment scores. Results indicated a relationship between EBD disability status and academic assessment scores, with EBD students scoring, on average, approximately .86 standard deviations below their non-EBD peers: despite a lack of association between EBD eligibility and lower intellectual ability. Quantitative analysis of assessment results yielded effect sizes for academic achievement of student participants, indicating lower performance levels and potential moderators (e.g., race, socioeconomic status, and gender) impacting student academic performance. In addition to discussing results of the meta-analysis, implications and areas for future research, policy, and practice are discussed.