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An Evaluation of the Social Emotional Health Survey-Secondary for Use with Students with Learning Disabilities: Confirmatory Factor Analysis, Measurement Invariance, and Comparative Analyses


As the fields of psychology and education increasingly move from a deficit-based, medical model toward a strengths-focused model, researchers and practitioners are in need of measures with adequate psychometric properties to assess personal strengths. Students with learning disabilities (LD) represent a vulnerable population and one that is at a higher risk for social, emotional, and behavioral challenges compared to their peers without LD. As the effects of LD are not confined to childhood or the school setting, and often affect people throughout their lives, a strengths-based orientation is recommended to encourage building strengths and resilience factors to counteract the negative effects of LD over the lifespan. Therefore, identifying and focusing on the building of strengths, adaptive skills, and personal assets, while important for all youth, is especially important for youth with LD. In order to identify areas of strength and areas for growth, measurement tools that are appropriate for the population of students with LD are needed. This study examined the psychometric properties of one measure, the Social Emotional Health Survey–Secondary (SEHS–S), for use with students with LD. Specifically, data from three secondary schools was used to confirm the existing factor structure of the SEHS–S measurement model, establish measurement invariance across LD and non-LD groups, and compare the social-emotional profiles of students with and without LD. The LD group was found to report lower overall social emotional strengths than their non-LD peers, with some variation across the subdomains measured. Implications for practitioners and researchers will be discussed.

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