School Psychology Review

Special Topic: Assessing and Preventing Behavior Difficulties
Volume 40, Issue 2 (2011 )

Editor: Matthew K. Burns


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  • Assessing and Preventing Behavior Difficulties

    Matthew K. Burns

    pp. 179-180

    School psychology evolves based on the ever-changing needs of the students we serve and on research conducted to better address those needs. For example, school psychologists continue to be school-based instructional consultants and mental health providers (Ysseldyke et al., 2006), but recent research has demonstrated the effectiveness of preventing academic and behavioral difficulties (Botvin, 2004; Greenberg, Domitrovich, & Bumbarger, 1999; Stith et al., 2006). Thus, school psychologists have become active participants in prevention efforts such as response to intervention and positive behavior supports.

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  • Direct Behavior Rating: An Evaluation of Alternate Definitions to Assess Classroom Behaviors

    Theodore J. Christ, T. Chris Riley-Tillman, Sandra Chafouleas, and Rosemary Jaffery

    pp. 181-199

    Abstract: The method of Direct Behavior Rating (DBR) incorporates aspects of both systematic direct observation and behavior rating scales to provide an efficient means to collect time series data. This study extended the development and evaluation of DBR Single-Item Scales (DBR-SIS) as a behavior assessment tool. Eighty-eight undergraduate students used DBR-SIS to rate 2-min video clips of elementary student classroom behaviors across positive (e.g., academically engaged) and negative (e.g., academically unengaged) wording conditions. DBRSIS outcomes were then compared against those obtained via systematic direct observation. Rater bias and error, as well as criterion-related validity of DBR-SIS, were evaluated with systematic direct observation serving as the criterion measure. Results provide support for using DBR-SIS to assess general outcome behaviors relevant to classroom behavior.

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  • Academic and Social Impairments of Elementary School Children With Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

    Stephanie H. McConaughy, Robert J. Volpe, Kevin M. Antshel, Michael Gordon, and Ricardo B. Eiraldi

    pp. 200-225

    Abstract: This study examined academic and social impairments of 6- to 11-yearold children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD; n=101) versus other referred children without ADHD (n=53) and controls (n=24). Parent and teacher ratings showed significantly lower academic performance and lower social functioning for children with ADHD compared to other referred children without ADHD and controls. Children with ADHD scored significantly lower than controls on standardized tests of reading/language, mathematics, and written language, and lower than referred children without ADHD on mathematics. In multiple regression analyses, cognitive ability accounted for the most variance in predicting academic performance. Diagnostic status (ADHD vs. non-ADHD) accounted for the most variance in predicting parent and teacher ratings of social skills and school adaptive behavior. Significantly more children with ADHD than those without ADHD exhibited clinically significant impairment on five measures of academic performance and six measures of social behavior. Implications are discussed for assessing patterns of impairment associated with ADHD and designing appropriate academic and social interventions for students with ADHD.

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  • Development and Validation of a Teacher Report Measure for Assessing Social-Emotional Strengths of Children and Adolescents

    Kenneth W. Merrell, Bradley P. Cohn, and Karalyn M. Tom

    pp. 226-241

    Abstract: This study details development and validation efforts for a new strengthbased assessment instrument: the Social-Emotional Assets and Resilience Scales, Teacher rating form (SEARS-T). A large and diverse nationwide sample of more than 1,500 teacher ratings of students in kindergarten through Grade 12 was obtained. Factor-analytic procedures revealed a robust four-factor structure. The factor scores and total score of the SEARS-T were shown to have strong internal consistency. Convergent construct validity of the SEARS-T was established through findings of significant correlations with two established strength-based rating scales. Construct validity was supported through findings of significant gender and special education classification status differences in scores. Limitations and future research needs are discussed, as are implications for research and practice in school settings.

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  • A Meta-Analysis of Classroom-Wide Interventions to Build Social Skills: Do They Work?

    Alicia M. January, Rita J. Casey, and Daniel Paulson

    pp. 242-256

    Abstract: Outcomes of 28 peer-reviewed journal articles published between 1981 and 2007 were evaluated quantitatively to assess the effectiveness of classroomwide interventions for the improvement of social skills. All interventions included in the study were implemented with intact classrooms that included both socially competent children and those with social skills difficulties. In general, the overall effect of school interventions on social behavior was positive but small (effect size=0.15). Studies were further analyzed according to several variables of interest (e.g., grade of intervention, socioeconomic status, length of intervention, and so on). Several variables moderated the outcome. Particular attention was given to the finding that early interventions were more effective than interventions with older students. These results suggest that resources in classroom-based social skills interventions are best invested in younger students, particularly those in preschool and kindergarten.

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  • Bridging the Gap Between Clinical and Classroom Intervention: Keystone Approaches for Students With Challenging Behavior

    Joseph M. Ducharme and Carly Shecter

    pp. 257-274

    Abstract: Although not trained as treatment providers, teachers are increasingly faced with students who present challenging behavioral issues that require intervention. Teachers often resort to reactive and punitive strategies that have many negative side effects and drawbacks because they lack specific training in managing problem behavior in the classroom. Functional analysis and assessment approaches are commonly recommended by clinical researchers and have been demonstrated effective for managing problem behavior, but are sometimes impractical for regular classroom use. In this article, we propose a “keystone” approach to classroom management that may meet the clinical needs of children with challenging behavior while potentially serving as a more practical classroom alternative to commonly recommended strategies. With this approach, teachers are taught to focus on a circumscribed set of skills that have the potential to produce widespread improvement in child outcomes and render problem behavior unnecessary. Empirical support for individual components of this approach is discussed.

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  • Social Behavioral Assessment and Intervention: Observations and Impressions

    Frank M. Gresham

    pp. 275-283

    I was favorably impressed with the breadth, scope, and quality of the articles in this miniseries that dealt with the various aspects and correlates of social behavioral functioning as well as assessment and intervention considerations. Each of these articles dealt with a unique aspect of social behavioral functioning in children and youth and each emphasized a different focus of this important topic for school psychologists. My commentary will be broadly divided into two main categories: assessment considerations and intervention considerations. I will comment on each article within each of these categories.

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  • Pathways to Word Reading and Decoding: The Roles of Automaticity and Accuracy

    Kelli D. Cummings, Elizabeth N. Dewey, Rachel J. Latimer, and Rolland H. Good III

    pp. 284-295

    Abstract: The purpose of this article is to describe the relationship of initial skill and rate of progress on a measure of the alphabetic principle, Nonsense Word Fluency (NWF), to first-grade reading outcomes as measured by Oral Reading Fluency (ORF). In addition, we describe a scoring approach to NWF where the predominant decoding strategy (i.e., sound-by-sound, recoding, partial blending, or whole word reading) is also recorded. This study replicates two findings from prior research. First, we found that the effect of NWF gain on ORF outcomes was attenuated for students scoring well above the criterion on NWF. In addition, after controlling for both NWF initial skill and progress over the year, decoding strategy added explanatory value to the prediction of end of first grade ORF outcomes. Recommendations for future research and implications for practice are discussed.

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  • Measurement of Kindergarteners' Understanding of Early Mathematical Concepts

    Amanda M. VanDerHeyden, Carmen Broussard, Patricia Snyder, Jamie George, Sara Meche Lafleur, and Candace Williams

    pp. 296-306

    Abstract: Early measures of mathematics skill and development have focused on early numeracy skills like counting, number identification, and sequencing of numbers. This study attempted to expand early mathematics assessment. Six new measures of early mathematics skill competence were developed and evaluated. Four existing measures also were examined. Measures were developed to directly assess kindergarten children’s understanding of concepts including number sense (ordinality, subitivity, cardinality), shape recognition, and patterning. Technical adequacy estimates were examined including test–retest reliability, concurrent and longitudinal correlation with criterion measures, and sensitivity. The Pattern Completion, Set Comparison with Unequal-Sized Items, and Subitivity measures performed best. Existing early numeracy measures performed comparably to or better than the new measures.

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  • Enhancing Teacher Read Alouds With Small-Group Vocabulary Instruction for Students With Low Vocabulary in First-Grade Classrooms

    Hank Fien, Lana Santoro, Scott K. Baker, Yonghan Park, David J. Chard, Susanna Williams, and Priti Haria

    pp. 307-318

    Abstract: The purpose of the current study was to evaluate the effect of smallgroup instruction on the vocabulary and comprehension of first-grade students identified with low language and low vocabulary skills. Overall, 102 first-grade students scoring below the 50th percentile on relational vocabulary were blocked by classroom, matched according to vocabulary score, and randomly assigned within the 18 participating classrooms to one of two conditions. All students participated in a whole-class Read Aloud Curriculum and students in the intervention group received small-group instruction for 20 min, 2 times per week, for 8 weeks in addition to the whole-group instruction. The small-group instruction included additional read aloud activities and opportunities to preview, review, and enhance vocabulary instruction aligned with the whole-class Read Aloud Curriculum. Students who received small-group instruction reliably outperformed their controls on vocabulary assessments and expository retells (with effect sizes of 0.57 to 0.66), but not on narrative retells. Findings provide preliminary support for small-group instruction in addition to whole-class read aloud practices for the purpose of increasing vocabulary and expository retelling skills for at-risk first-grade students

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