The use of behavioral screeners in elementary schools
King-Vogel, Kathleen Rose
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Response to Intervention (RTI) is gaining momentum in school psychology as a means of identifying children in need of more specialized school services (Reschly & Bergstrom, 2009). RTI is associated with a tiered-model of service delivery in which most children (around 80% in Tier 1) receive general classroom instruction (Batsche et al., 2005). Those children who do not make adequate academic or behavioral progress (around 15% in Tier 2 and 5% in Tier 3) receive intensifying degrees of individualized instruction as they move up the tiers of intervention. Fundamental to this service delivery model is the need to identify those children in need of further intervention. Universal screening is a comprehensive yet concise method of evaluating every child within a school in order to determine those in need of further support. Academic screening has been accurately identifying children for years (Shinn, Shinn, Hamilton, & Clarke, 2002); however, behavior screening is less advanced. One reason for this is the absence of adequate behavioral screening measures. The purpose of the current studies is to evaluate two behavior screening instruments with a new population. The sample for both studies contained 496 elementary school children from the rural southeast. Study 1 examined the psychometric properties (including internal consistency, inter-rater reliability, convergent validity, and factor structure) of the Teacher, Parent, and Student Forms of the Behavioral and Emotional Screening System (BESS; Kamphaus & Reynolds, 2007). Results indicated that all forms had adequate internal and external properties. Additionally, an exploratory factor analysis revealed multiple factors per form. Study 2 compared the BESS with the Behavioral Screening Checklist (BSC; Muskens, Marston, & Reschly, 2007). The psychometric properties of the screening instruments were evaluated in terms of inter-rater reliability and predictive validity of academic and behavioral outcomes. Results of this study revealed that both screening measures were highly correlated with behavioral and academic variables. A measure of social validity revealed that the BSC was somewhat more preferred by educators. Consumers of screening instruments are encouraged to select a screening instrument that has sound psychometric properties, such as those evaluated, and is practical for use in applied settings.
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