Direct behavior rating as a school-based behavior screener for elementary and middle grades

Sandra M. Chafouleas, Stephen P. Kilgus, Rose Jaffery, T. Chris Riley-Tillman, Megan Welsh, Theodore J. Christ

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to investigate how Direct Behavior Rating Single Item Scales (DBR-SIS) involving targets of academically engaged, disruptive, and respectful behaviors function in school-based screening assessment. Participants included 831 students in kindergarten through eighth grades who attended schools in the northeastern United States. Teachers provided behavior ratings for a sample of students in their classrooms on the DBR-SIS, the Behavioral and Emotional Screening System (Kamphaus & Reynolds, 2007), and the Student Risk Screening Scale (Drummond, 1994). Given variations in rating procedures to accommodate scheduling differences across grades, analysis was conducted separately for elementary school and middle school grade levels. Results suggested that the recommended cut scores, the combination of behavior targets, and the resulting conditional probability indices varied depending on grade level grouping (lower elementary, upper elementary, middle). For example, for the lower elementary grade level grouping, a combination of disruptive behavior (cut score=2) and academically engaged behavior (cut score=8) was considered to offer the best balance among indices of diagnostic accuracy, whereas a cut score of 1 for disruptive behavior and 8 for academically engaged behavior were recommended for the upper elementary school grade level grouping and cut scores of 1 and 9, respectively, were suggested for middle school grade level grouping. Generally, DBR-SIS cut scores considered optimal for screening using single or combined targets including academically engaged behavior and disruptive behavior by offering a reasonable balance of indices for sensitivity (51-.90), specificity (47-.83), negative predictive power (94-.98), and positive predictive power (14-.41). The single target of respectful behavior performed poorly across all grade level groups, and performance of DBR-SIS targets was relatively better in the elementary school than middle school grade level groups. Overall, results supported that disruptive behavior is highly important in evaluating risk status in lower grade levels and that academically engaged behavior becomes more pertinent as students reach higher grade levels. Limitations, future directions, and implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)367-385
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of school psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Preparation of this article was supported by funding provided by the Institute for Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education ( R324B060014 ). Opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the position of the U.S. Department of Education, and such endorsements should not be inferred.

Copyright 2019 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Behavior assessment
  • Behavior expectations
  • Conditional probability indices
  • Direct behavior rating


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