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Facts From NLTS2: School Behavior and Disciplinary Experiences of Youth With Disabilities

NLTS 2200603
March 2006

School Behavior and Disciplinary Experiences of Youth With Disabilities

Problem behavior at school "interferes with the educational process and places a burden on teachers" (U.S. Department of Education 2002, p. III-17). Disciplinary problems have long been linked to negative outcomes for students with disabilities, such as course failure and dropping out of school (Wagner et al. 1991). Parents, administrators, teachers, and communities all are interested in keeping schools safe and maintaining positive environments conducive to learning (Finley 2003; Gallegos 1998; Sprague, Smith, and Stieber 2002). To accomplish these goals, schools employ a range of policies and approaches to managing student behavior, including classroom token economies, positive behavior supports, and suspensions and expulsions (Leone et al. 2000; NASP Center 2005; Peterson and Skiba, 2001; Sugai et al. 2000).

Data from the National Longitudinal Transition Study-2 (NLTS2)1 provide a national picture2 of disciplinary experiences at the secondary school level of youth with disabilities, offering a perspective on youth who exhibit problem behaviors at school and on schools' implementation of disciplinary actions.3

This fact sheet was prepared for the Institute of Education Sciences under Contract No. ED-01-CO-0003. The project officer is Patricia Gonzalez in the National Center for Special Education Research.

1 The National Longitudinal Transition Study-2 (NLTS2) has a nationally representative sample of more than 11,000 students who were in at least seventh grade and receiving special education services in the 2000–01 school year. This sample represents a total of 1,838,848 youth with disabilities, according to federal child count figures (U.S. Department of Education 2002). See for more information about the study.
2 Data reported here are population estimates from data weighted to represent students in each disability category who attended school in the kinds of districts from which they were sampled.
3 Some of the data presented in this fact sheet also are included in Wagner, Marder et al. (2003) and Wagner, Newman et al. (2003).