Academic journal article Social Work Research

Psychometric Properties of the Elementary School Success Profile for Children

Academic journal article Social Work Research

Psychometric Properties of the Elementary School Success Profile for Children

Article excerpt

The Elementary School Success Profile (ESSP) is a multidimensional instrument for school based practitioners that assesses the social environmental domains of neighborhood, school, friends, and family, as well as the well-being, behavior, and school performance of students in the third, fourth, and fifth grade. This article presents the psychometric properties of the computerized child self-report component of the ESSP--the ESSP for Children. Previously, extensive cognitive testing with children established that children's ESSP responses mean what the instrument's developers intended. In the present study, results of analyses of factor characteristics, internal consistency reliability, standard error of measurement/percentage of error, criterion-related validity, construct validity, and test-retest reliability indicate that the child questionnaire contains 12 factors in five domains with adequate to excellent psychometric qualities. Triangulated with data collected from the ESSP for Parents and the ESSP for Teachers, the data from the ESSP for Children provide information that is directly applicable to intervention planning by school staff.

KEY WORDS: assessment; elementary school; scale development; social environment

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This article presents the psychometric properties of the child self-report component of a new ecological assessment instrument, the Elementary School Success Profile (ESSP).The ESSP was developed in response to a critical lack of instruments for assessing the social environmental factors that contribute to the well-being and performance of elementary school children. The literature is replete with examples of how critical the social environment is to child development in such perspectives as ecological theory (Bronfenbrenner, 1992), developmental contextualism (Lerner & Sinai, 2000), risk and resilience (Rutter, 2001; Sameroff, 2000), and developmental psychopathology (Sroufe, 1997). Empirical support for considering the role of the social environment in children's development is also evident. Studies guided by ecological, developmental, and transactional models of development consistently indicate the importance of family, school, neighborhood, and peer influences on outcomes (for example, Bowen & Bowen, 1999; Laird, Jordan, Dodge, Pettit, & Bates, 2001; Simons et al., 2002).The growing number of interventions endorsed as effective and "evidence-based" that focus on aspects of the social environment also indicates that the social environment offers powerful leverage points for effecting change (Hill, Howell, Hawkins, & Battin-Pearson, 1999; McDonald et al., 1997; Olweus, Limber, & Mihalic, 1999).

Despite the ongoing theoretical, empirical, and intervention support for ecological models of development, a predominant assumption in mental health practice is that "problems" reside primarily in the individual and that the individual is the appropriate target of interventions (Sroufe, 1997). Consistent with this assumption, many of the most commonly used mental health assessments for children primarily aim to document the nature and severity of the behaviors or symptoms that children display. Books that review existing instruments (Corcoran & Fischer, 2000; Merrell, 2003), and a series of articles in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry that review rating scales (Myers & Winters, 2002, for example) demonstrate this focus. Little or no information is gathered with these instruments related to the environmental circumstances or interactions that bear on the individual child's behavior.

The emphasis in existing instruments on describing problematic behavior is consistent with certain goals of assessment, such as "problem clarification, diagnosis, [or] classification" (Merrell, 2003, p. 10), and monitoring change in outcomes over time (Corcoran & Fischer, 2000). However, Merrell also listed intervention planning as a goal of assessment and suggested that "ideally the end result of assessment is to gather information that may be used to help solve specific problems" (p. …

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