Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders


Date of this Version



Published in Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders 1–12


© Hammill Institute on Disabilities 2016


Community-based systems of care (SOC) provide a range of services to students with significant emotional and behavioral difficulties and their families. However, little is known about the educational characteristics and functioning of students at enrollment in SOC. The purpose of this study was to replicate and extend previous research by examining the educational characteristics and predictors of school functioning for students referred to SOC using a large and diverse national data source. Participants were 5,628 students ages 6 to 18 years who were enrolled in community-based SOC across 45 U.S. states, districts, and territories. Students’ grades, discipline, and attendance (as reported by caregivers) were used as indicators of school functioning, and students’ demographic characteristics, referral source, and emotional/behavioral functioning were used to predict functioning in school, including the testing of interaction effects. Findings revealed that, although many students earned average grades, a large portion of students had significant discipline and attendance problems. Results of the ordinal regression analyses indicated that most demographic variables and measures of clinical functioning significantly predicted students’ grades, attendance, and discipline, and that age and special education status represented a significant interaction. Findings provide insight into the educational functioning of students at enrollment in community-based SOC and have implications for research and practice.