A Confirmatory Factor Analysis of Home Environment and Home Social Behavior Data from the Elementary School Success Profile for Families

Article excerpt

The purpose of the current study was to test the factor structure and scale quality of data provided by caregivers about the home environment and child behavior at home using the Elementary School Success Profile (ESSP) for Families. The ESSP for Families is one component of the ESSP, an online social-environmental assessment that also collects information from students and teachers. Confirmatory factor analyses with Mplus and weighted least squares means and variances adjusted estimation took into account the hierarchical nature and ordinal level of the data. The sample comprised caregivers of 692 third- through fifth-grade students from 13 elementary schools in four districts. A primary model and an alternative model were tested. Models were tested on a random calibration sample and validated with another sample. A nine-factor first-order solution demonstrated superior fit to the data. Scores from the nine scales also demonstrated acceptable internal consistency reliability. Implications for practice and further research are presented.

KEY WORDS: confirmatory factor analysis; elementary school; reliability; social environment; validation

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The theoretical and empirical knowledge bases of developmental psychopathology (Costello & Angold, 1996; Sroufe, 1997), risk and resilience (Rutter, 2001; Sameroff, 2000), ecological theory (Bronfenbrenner, 1992), and developmental contextualism (Lerner, 1986) suggest that students' social and academic behaviors in schools are influenced by their experiences in the social environment. Research supporting these theories demonstrates the impact that the social environment has on concurrent and future child outcomes (for example, Barnard, 2004; Chase-Lansdale & Gordon, 1996). In spite of the pivotal role of social-environmental experiences in child development, few well-validated social-environmental assessments exist for school-based practitioners. An exception is the School Success Profile (SSP), a self-report social-environmental assessment for middle and high school students, which was developed in the early 1990s (G. L.Bowen, Richman, & Bowen, 2002; G. L. Bowen, Rose, & Bowen, 2005). Based on an "eco-interactional-developmental" perspective (G. L. Bowen et al., 2002), the SSP assesses dimensions of the neighborhood, school, peer system, and family as experienced by youths. Youths' perceptions of dimensions of their own psychological and physical well-being and school performance are also assessed. Individual- and group-level data are provided to schools to guide change efforts.

In response to practitioner requests for an elementary version of the SSP, the Elementary School Success Profile (ESSP) (N. K. Bowen, 2006; N. K. Bowen & Powers, 2005; Woolley, Bowen, & Bowen, 2004) was developed through an iterative process incorporating expert, practitioner, and respondent feedback. The ESSP makes it possible to assess the social environment of children in grades 3 through 5. The ESSP assesses the same major domains as the SSP but with differences in specific dimensions that reflect the developmental stage of middle childhood. Because the ESSP assesses younger children who might not be developmentally capable of providing valid self-report data about all aspects of their social environments, ESSP data are collected from caregivers and teachers in addition to children.

Together, the three components of the ESSP collect data about the following social domains: neighborhood (child and caregiver report), school (child and caregiver report), friends (child report), caregiver education involvement (caregiver and teacher report), and family (child and caregiver report). Data are also collected on social behavior at home and school (caregiver and teacher report) and school performance (teacher report). Sources of data within domains overlap when appropriate, providing multiple perspectives on the same social environmental factors. …