hero image
Sandra M. Chafouleas - University of Connecticut. Storrs, CT, US

Sandra M. Chafouleas Sandra M. Chafouleas

Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor of Educational Psychology | University of Connecticut


Professor Chafouleas is an expert on whole child, school mental health, behavioral assessment, and K12 tiered systems of support.


Based in the Neag School of Education, Chafouleas serves as co-director of the UConn Collaboratory on School and Child Health (CSCH). Chafouleas has had continued success with extramurally funded research, with work focused on supporting school system implementation of evidence-informed practices and expertise in areas of integrated health and learning (whole child), school mental health, and behavior assessment. Author of over 150 publications, Chafouleas regularly serves as a national presenter and invited speaker. She is a fellow in both the American Psychological Association and Association for Psychological Science, and has received numerous university awards for her scholarship and mentorship.

Prior to becoming a university trainer, she worked as a school psychologist and school administrator in a variety of settings supporting the needs of children with behavior disorders.

Areas of Expertise (7)

Multi-Tiered Frameworks

Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child Model

Social-Emotional-Behavioral Assessment

School Mental Health

Trauma-Informed Schools

Whole Child

Integrated Health and Academics

Education (4)

Syracuse University: Certificate of Advanced Study, Educational Leadership Program 1998

Syracuse University: PhD, Philosophy 1997

Syracuse University: MA, Science 1995

State University of New York at Binghamton: BA, Arts 1993

Affiliations (3)

  • American Psychological Association, fellow
  • Association for Psychological Science, fellow
  • Society for the Study of School Psychology, president-elect

Accomplishments (1)

Scholar Award (professional)

2016 American Psychological Association Division 16 Oakland Mid-Career Scholar Award






loading image loading image loading image loading image loading image


Neag School of Education faculty member Sandra Chafouleas Why is behavior progress monitoring important? CSCH Live Talk - Sandra Chafouleas, PhD NEEDs2 Project Overview


Media Appearances (6)

U.S. teens envision fall school reopening during COVID-19 pandemic

Reuters  online


Some experts said the best ideas may come from students themselves, like those in the DYG competition. They noted that schoolchildren have risen to safety challenges before, particularly in response to mass shootings.

“Student input is critical,” said Sandra Chafouleas, a psychology professor at University of Connecticut’s Neag School of Education. “We can’t just assume that we know best because we are the adults.”

view more

Distance-bullying? Rates may be low, but reporting, investigating more complex, experts say

CT Post  online


Cyberbullying could worsen during distance learning unless districts focus on positive online environments for kids, experts say.

view more

Schools are Discouraged from Restraining or Secluding Kids. Both Still Happen in Wisconsin -- But No One Can Say How Often

Post Crescent  online


No federal law regulates seclusion and restraint, but the U.S. Department of Education notes in a guide that "the foundation of any discussion about the use of restraint and seclusion is that every effort should be made to avoid it and provide enough supports that the practice becomes unnecessary."

Sandra Chafouleas, a professor of educational psychology at the University of Connecticut, says seclusion and restraint can cause increased post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms and start a cycle of escalation and learned helplessness.

view more

What is the WellSAT WSCC?

PodBean  online


Description: CSCH Program Manager Helene Marcy interviews CSCH Co-Director Sandra Chafouleas and CSCH Steering Committee Member Marlene Schwartz about their work developing the WellSAT WSCC Tool

view more

‘Starbucks classrooms,’ plus six other new approaches in education

The Washington Post  online


“A trauma-informed approach is critical for schools,” says Sandra Chafouleas, a professor of educational psychology at University of Connecticut who has researched the topic. She says the new push helps school staffs identify and provide counseling for the estimated one-half to two-thirds of students who, according to the Education Law Center, probably have experienced trauma. In an all-too-familiar cycle, such students are much more apt to suffer, fail or even lash out at classmates and others, experts say.

view more

Why Dention Sucks...And Manual Labour Is Better

Ozy  online


On the face of it, this may seem like a regressive approach to addressing behavioral issues. Indeed, most of the recent scholarship in this area advocates for moving away from punishment “in favor of positive behavior support,” says Sandra Chafouleas, professor of educational psychology at the University of Connecticut — methods that focus on preventing misbehavior without resorting to punitive measures. But while prevention is certainly key, says George Bear from the University of Delaware School of Education, “I can’t imagine a school that did not have some form of punishment” when those approaches prove inadequate. If some punishment is necessary, wouldn’t sweeping floors be preferable to enforced silence?

view more

Event Appearances (7)

Responding to COVID-19: Planning for Trauma-Informed Assessment in Schools

Evidence-Based Guidance for How Schools Can Respond to A National Mental Health Crisis in the Wake of COVID-19 - 2020  Virtual Conference

Improving Educators’ Use of Data-Driven Problem-Solving to Reduce Disciplinary Infractions for Students with Emotional Disturbance

Spencer Foundation Conference on Reducing Suspensions and Expulsions of Students with Disabilities: Linking Research, Law, Policy and Practice - 2019  Loyola University, Chicago, IL

Exploring the national landscape of behavioral screening in US schools

Symposium at the National Association of School Psychologists Conference - 2019  Atlanta, GA

Defining and Measuring Risk in Special Education and Early Intervention Research: Considerations for Social, Emotional, & Behavioral Domains

Institute of Education Sciences Annual Principal Investigators Meeting - 2018  Arlington, VA

The Whole Child: A Blueprint for Success.

ASCD Empower 18 Conference - 2018  Boston, MA

Best practices in school-based services for addressing trauma.

National Association of School Psychologists Conference - 2018  Chicago, IL

Understanding Successes and Challenges in Caregiver HealthPromoting Self-Care.

National Association of School Psychologists Annual Convention - 2017  San Antonio, TX

Research Grants (4)

Exploring the Status and Impact of School-Based Behavior Screening Practices in a National Sample: Implications for Systems, Policy, and Research

US Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences (R305A140543) $1,600,000

Principal Investigator
7/1/2014 - 6/30/2017

Project VIABLE-II: Unified validation of Direct Behavior Rating (DBR) in a problem-solving model

US Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences (R324A110017) $2,300,000

Principal Investigator
7/1/2011 - 6/30/2015

Enhancing Ci3T: Building Professional Capacity for High Fidelity Implementation to Support Students’ Educational Outcomes (Project ENHANCE)

US Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences $3,999,321

Co-Principal Investigator
7/1/2019 - 6/30/2020

Increasing Capacity for Partnerships Across Education and Health: Developing Guiding Blueprints for Implementation of Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child Framework

Research Excellence Program, Office of the Vice President for Research at UConn $24,059

Principal Investigator
7/1/2016 - 6/30/2017

Articles (10)

How to Help Children Navigate Back-to-School Debates Psychology Today


Given the seemingly endless media frenzy around the back-to-school debates, I can imagine that conversations in most homes have been pretty stressful lately. At least I know they have been in my house as we await – sometimes not so patiently — the final plans for our two college students and one high schooler. It’s been really hard not to get swept up by the very strong and often opposing opinions, and I certainly don’t envy any school leader charged with making these difficult reopening decisions.

view more

Responding to COVID-19: Planning For Trauma-Informed Assessment In Schools CSCH Report


Children with a history of trauma have an increased risk of negative outcomes throughout their lives. Researchers have recently called for improved school-based screening to identify childhood trauma, but those tools have limitations. Multiple issues must be considered in determining how best to evaluate responses to trauma; a single assessment solution applied broadly across school settings is not recommended.

view more

Our teens are missing so many milestones, but there are things we can do Hartford Courant


Graduation, prom, banquets, trips. Our teenagers are lamenting so many lost milestones. My daughter, a high school senior, recently summed up her thoughts about graduating amid a pandemic: “It feels like the light at the end of the tunnel was just snuffed out.”

As a parent, it is a daily struggle not to get swept up in the sadness of the losses forced by COVID-19. As a school psychologist, I am trying my best to heed what I know about coping and promoting resilience. Life is supposed to present us with bumps — bumps can help us grow if the right supports are available to brace for them. But the intensity of the current global situation means that we need to identify and draw on positive coping resources more purposefully.

view more

5 things college students should include in a plan for their wellness The Conversation


As a psychologist and the mother of two college-aged students, I am concerned about my children’s future emotional well-being. I know that the late teens to early 20s are a time when the majority of many lifetime mental health disorders take hold.

Given all the challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic – from isolation to limited job opportunities – the need for supports to address mental health issues seems likely to increase.

view more

Stress: Family Caregivers Of Children With Disabilities CSCH Report


Family caregivers play an essential role within the national health care system, particularly as a resource for children with developmental disabilities (DD). In the U.S., the prevalence of children aged 3–17 years diagnosed with a developmental disability increased by 9.5% between 2009 and 2017.

view more

A Review of State-Level Procedural Guidance for Implementing Multitiered Systems of Support for Behavior (MTSS-B) Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions


Given the authority of state government over public education, one means of narrowing the best-practice to actual-practice gap in education is by putting forth clear state guidance and recommendations to schools. To date, however, little is known about the national landscape of procedural guidance that is readily available to practitioners looking to implement multitiered systems of support for behavior (MTSS-B).

view more

A systematic review of trauma screening measures for children and adolescents School Psychology Quarterly

Eklund, K., Rossen, E., Koriakin, T., & Chafouleas, S. M.


Traumatized youth are at an increased risk of a host of negative academic and psychoeducational outcomes. Screening and identification of students who experience potentially traumatic events may help schools provide support to at-risk students. In light of this, the current study examines the availability and use of trauma screening measures to detect early indicators of risk among youth in schools. A systematic review was conducted to identify measures available to screen children and youth for trauma exposure and/or symptoms, as well as the associated psychometric properties to support each instrument’s applied use in schools. Eighteen measures met inclusion criteria, which consisted primarily of student self-report rating scales and clinical interviews. While many instruments measure the symptomology or exposure to trauma among children and youth, very little psychometric evidence was available to support the use of these measures in schools. Additional research is needed to endorse and expand the use of trauma screening measures in schools. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)

view more

Addressing Childhood Trauma in School Settings: A Framework for Evidence‑Based Practice. School Mental Health

Chafouleas, S. M., Koriakin, T. A., Roundfield, K. D., & Overstreet, S.


Supporting evidence and intervention resources for addressing childhood trauma are growing, with schools indicated as a potentially critical system for service delivery. Multiple points for prevention and intervention efforts in schools are possible, but in this manuscript, we review evidence on trauma-specific interventions targeted to students exhibiting negative symptoms. Trauma-specific interventions with evidence and utility for school-based delivery are highlighted, along with key considerations in selection. In addition, we discuss the potential to maximize the impact of trauma-specific interventions for individual students when delivered as part of a school-wide trauma-informed approach that incorporates system-level prevention and intervention strategies. Future directions for research on trauma-specific interventions and trauma-informed approaches in school settings are discussed.

view more

Accessing Behavioral Health Services: Introduction to a Special Issue of Research, Policy, and Practice School Mental Health

Joni W. Splett, Sandra M. Chafouleas, Melissa W.R. George


There is an urgency to improve accessibility of behavioral health services for children and families given both an increasing need and decreasing support. This special issue aims to advance our understanding of what works to make behavioral health services for children accessible through a collection of articles that examine the issue from research, policy, and practice perspectives.

view more

Analysis of State-Level Guidance Regarding School-Based, Universal Screening for Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Risk School Mental Health

Amy M. Briesch, Sandra M. Chafouleas, Ruth K. Chaffee


Despite recommendations to extend prevention and early intervention related to behavioral health into school settings, limited research has been directed toward understanding how these recommendations have been translated by states into education policies and initiatives. This macro-level information is important toward understanding the priorities that have influence on the processes and practices occurring in local school settings.

view more