College of Education Publications and Scholarship



Statistics show that many pre-K–12 students in the United States are exposed to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) or potentially traumatic events (PTEs), and a growing body of literature points to these childhood experiences harming children’s academic functioning and future educational attainment. A review of the literature on trauma-informed education (i.e., curriculum and programs designed to mitigate the negative effects of trauma) highlights many teachers’ lack of confidence in combatting issues within student populations affected by adversity and trauma; the research also indicated that teachers with knowledge of trauma/adversity and its implications are crucial to effectively educating at-risk children and adolescents. The current study examines teacher education curricula at 119 postsecondary institutions accredited by both the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) and the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) to identify existing course requirements that fit each of four dimensions of many trauma-informed education programs: Adversity and Resilience, Human/Child Development, Child/Educational Psychology, and Human/Cultural Diversity. Primary and secondary education majors were examined separately for inclusion of these dimensions and compared. Results show that only one of the 119 universities’ primary education programs required courses in Adversity and Resilience; none were required among the secondary education programs. At least one course in Human/Child Development was required by 52% of primary education programs and 46% of secondary education programs; Child/Educational Psychology by 55% and 51%, respectively; and Human/Cultural Diversity by 57% and 50%, respectively. This examination forms part of an ongoing evaluation of teacher education standards and educator preparedness to implement trauma-informed education interventions. Results suggest a need for additional training and professional development for educators, especially given the prevalence of child traumatic stress and the growing number of policies and initiatives promoting trauma-sensitive schools.

Publication Date

Spring 4-13-2023

Spatial Coverage

Southeastern United States


College of Education


Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Foundations


teacher education, child trauma, resilience, curriculum


Education | Educational Psychology | Education Policy | School Psychology | Social Justice | Teacher Education and Professional Development