Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Special Education

Major Professor

Albert Duchnowski, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Krista Kutash, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Daphne Thomas, Ph.D.

Committee Member

John Ferron, Ph.D.


Special education, Emotional disturbances, School reform, Mental health, Psychopathology, Achievement


Efforts to affect changes in student achievement through altering the manner in which schools operate have been countless. However, there are few empirical studies on the relationship between these reform activities and student outcomes, especially outcomes for students with emotional disturbances from geographically diverse locations.

The current study was a secondary analysis of data collected as part of the School and Community Study and the Urban School and Community Study conducted by the Research and Training Center for the Childrenís Mental Health at the Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute at the University of South Florida. Both studies examined the relationship between student exposure to school restructuring efforts and change in academic and behavioral functioning. The primary purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between student outcomes and school reform activities and to compare students attending suburban/rural schools and students attending urban schools on academic achievement, psychopathology, and mental health service utilization.

Using baseline data from the School and Community Study to match students from the Urban School and Community Study on the variables gender, income, and age; 66 matches (i.e., 132 students) comprised the study sample. Differences between the suburban/rural students and the matched sample of urban students were statistically significant in reading achievement, math achievement, functional impairment, and mental health service utilization. There were no significant differences between students on the variable of level of behavior problems, all of the students scoring in the clinical range. Schools in the suburban/rural settings were more highly engaged in reform and restructuring activities than the schools in the urban settings. Multiple regression equations were used to compare differences in school reform mechanisms and student outcomes. Family income and degree of engagement in school reform had a positive impact on reading achievement. Future research on the relationship between student outcomes and school reform and restructuring activities is needed to guide school efforts to improve student academic performance.