Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name



Social Work

First Advisor

Angelique Day


Youth who have experienced psychological trauma, such as court-involved youth, encounter unique challenges and barriers to their academic success (Burley & Halpern, 2001; Courtney et al., 2001; Courtney, Terao & Bost, 2004; Pecora et al., 2005). For court-involved students, many of whom come from racial/ethnic minority backgrounds (Brandt, 2006; Lawrence & Hesse, 2010; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2013b), a school’s response to student behavior can further complicate these challenges (Cole et al., 2005). Unfortunately, little research exists on the educational well-being of female students in this population (Crenshaw, Ocen, & Nanda, 2015) and trauma-informed educational practices have not been extensively tested. In response, this three-paper. study examined the use of a trauma-informed teaching intervention in a school that exclusively serves court-involved, female students. First, I qualitatively explored the perceptions and experiences of students at both a trauma-informed school (N=42) and a non-trauma-informed comparison school (N=34). Next, I quantitatively assessed the associations between the intervention and 109 students’ trauma symptoms and self-esteem over the first three years of implementation of the trauma-informed intervention. Finally, I used mixed methods to examine 71 students’ use and perceptions of the Monarch Room (MR), the school’s trauma-informed alternative to suspension/expulsion practices. Findings illustrate more positive student experiences in the trauma-informed school environment, decreased trauma symptoms across three years of intervention implementation, increases in student use of the MR, positive student perceptions of the MR, and suggestions for MR improvement. Implications for policy and practice are addressed, along with considerations for future research.

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Social Work Commons