Consistently inconsistent: An examination of the variability in the identification of emotional disturbance


Journal Article

© 2018 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. The federal definition of emotional disturbance (ED) has been heavily criticized as vaguely defined and poorly operationalized yet there has not been a formal analysis of the reliability of the ED criteria. This study examined the reliability of the federal criteria for a special education designation of ED. A total of 179 school psychologists reviewed a mock special education report, made an eligibility determination, and provided information about their eligibility decision. In all, 56 participants found the student met ED eligibility criteria using 16 different combinations of the five criteria. Krippendorff’s α, a statistic preferred for content analysis, was calculated as a measure of criterion reliability. Results indicated extremely poor reliability (α = 0.2011). These findings demonstrate the importance of redefining the existing criteria.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Scardamalia, K; Bentley-Edwards, KL; Grasty, K

Published Date

  • April 1, 2019

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 56 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 569 - 581

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1520-6807

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0033-3085

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1002/pits.22213

Citation Source

  • Scopus