Predicting behavior problems in schools using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire
Early social, emotional, and behavioral skills have been shown to be predictive of academic achievement and future success. With early intervention, effects of skill deficits can be mitigated (Albers, Glover & Kratochwill, 2007). However, less than half of the 10% to 20% of students who are thought to be at-risk receive the interventions they need (Bradshaw et al., 2008; Gresham, 2007). Schools are uniquely positioned to identify and provide interventions for students. As a result, administrators have begun to shift toward data-based decision-making models that include universal screeners, as initial steps for identifying and providing interventions for at-risk students. Selection of a screener is determined by the availability of resources, student demographics, and predictive validity. The purpose of this study was to investigate the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire, a social, emotional, and behavioral screener. Specifically, the study investigated the relationship between at-risk scores and behavior problems in schools. Study participants are 433 students in grades K to 4 attending an elementary charter school serving a predominantly low-income African American student body. Beginning-of-the year SDQ total difficulty scores and end-of-the year ODRs were analyzed using both correlational and regression analyses, to establish relationship and predictive ability of the screener. Both correlational and regression analyses confirmed a statistically significant relationship between SDQ total difficulty scores and end-of-the year ODRs. Therefore, universal screening provides schools with valuable baseline information about student social, emotional and behavioral functioning.