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Students with Emotional Disturbance1

Children and youth with emotional disturbance are a heterogeneous group of young people with a variety of strengths and needs. Much is known about the school and community factors that place young people at risk for developing emotional disturbance and about what must be done to improve school and community results for them. This knowledge has been incorporated into OSEP’s National Agenda for Achieving Better Results for Children and Youth with Serious Emotional Disturbance (U.S. Department of Education, 1994), which has framed OSEP’s recent research and development efforts.

Unfortunately, a gap exists between what is known and what is done to identify and address the strengths and needs of these young people and their families. OSEP is addressing the gap through its Research to Practice efforts, which support the exchange and effective use of research-based knowledge on how to improve results for children and youth with emotional disturbance.

The first section of this module addresses eligibility for services and the characteristics of children with emotional disturbance. The second discusses the educational environments of and services provided to these students and the results that follow for them. The final section presents an overview of what OSEP is doing to improve results for children and youth with emotional disturbance.

  1  This module reports on work conducted by the Center for Effective Collaboration and Practice, one of several research centers funded by OSEP.

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