Date of Award

Spring 5-13-2022

Document Type

Dissertation (799 registration)

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership


Graduate Studies

Committee Chair

Dr. Ximena Suarez-Sousa


mental health, predictive indicators, risk factors, internalizing behaviors, externalizing behaviors, SRSS-IE


Previous literature demonstrates common childhood characteristics of adults with mental health problems and children with internalizing and externalizing behavior challenges (Fatori et al., 2013; Jaffee et al., 2002; Koegel et al., 1995; Morrissey et al., 2014). Still, little research exists having associated school-based internalizing and externalizing behavior screening scores with the risk factors described in the literature (i.e., low socioeconomic status, office discipline referrals, homelessness, low academic achievement, low attendance rates, and ethnicity- and gender-based issues). This quantitative correlational study aimed to estimate the predictive value the childhood risk factors had on the results of the Student Risk Screening Scale – Internalizing and Externalizing (SRSS-IE) of elementary-aged students through a regression analysis of secondary data. The secondary data were taken from an urban school district in the Midwest. Guided by the life course theory and the age-graded theory of social control, this study explored the predictive value of several indicators. The findings show that the psychosocial risk factors pulled from the research hold predictive value when combined into a composite score with 45-60% accuracy and with 50-65% accuracy when the risk factors are considered individually. The results hold potential for identifying students who are at-risk for mental health difficulties before severe problems exist, allowing for the provision of early, targeted school- and community-based intervention in the areas of social, emotional, and behavioral wellness for students to reduce the likelihood of future mental health problems. The results, implications for schools, and recommendations for future research are discussed.



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