Adverse Childhood Experiences and How They Affect Student’s Overall Functioning in the Academic Setting

Date of Award

Spring 5-14-2021

Document Type

Project (696 or 796 registration)

Degree Name

Master of Science in Special Education


Graduate Studies

Committee Chair

Ximena Suarez-Sousa


Trauma, classroom, adverse experiences, academic function, academic



There are many things that can impact a child’s education. It is said that a student needs to be healthy in all areas of life in order to perform successfully. However, what happens when a child is not emotionally or mentally healthy, even though they appear to be physically healthy? Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) is something that many children suffer from and may not have been taught the necessary skills or provided resources to cope and overcome the trauma of these experiences. I have researched the effects of 7th through 12th grade student’s ACE score on their overall academic achievement and used information gathered from my students to incorporate useful accommodations and/or modifications into the school’s curriculum in the following years.

Participants of my study were students who attended an alternative learning center and were in grades 7-12. All students that participated in the study completed a survey and with the results of the survey I gathered data on their behavior referrals and their attendance to look for a correlation between the survey results and the data collected. The focus of my study was to answer the following the questions “Do students with an ACEs score have more discipline referrals resulting in more time spent out of class than those students with an ACEs score of zero;” “Do students with higher ACEs scores need more intensive interventions than those with lower scores?;” “Do students who have higher ACEs scores have more school absences than those with a lower ACEs score?” and “How can educators better support students’ mental and emotional needs?”

Results from the data collected show that there is a correlation between the amount of trauma a child experiences and their overall functioning in the academic setting. The more trauma an adolescent experiences during their childhood, the more discipline referrals the child receives in the academic setting and they also miss more school due to absences than their peers who have experienced fewer adverse experiences.

Abstract only: No full text available.