The utility of single-item readiness screeners in middle school


This study examined the benefit of utilizing one-item academic and one-item behavior readiness teacher-rated screeners at the beginning of the school year to predict end-of-school year outcomes for middle school students. The Middle School Academic and Behavior Readiness (M-ABR) screeners were developed to provide an efficient and effective way to assess readiness in students. Participants included 889 students in 62 middle school classrooms in an urban Missouri school district. Concurrent validity with the M-ABR items and other indicators of readiness in the fall were evaluated using Pearson product-moment correlation coefficients, with the academic readiness item having medium to strong correlations with other baseline academic indicators (r = ± 0.56 to 0.91) and the behavior readiness item having low to strong correlations with baseline behavior items (r = ± 0.20 to 0.79). Next, the predictive validity of the M-ABR items was analyzed with hierarchical linear regressions using end-of-year outcomes as the dependent variable. The academic and behavior readiness items demonstrated adequate validity for all outcomes with moderate effects (β = ± 0.31 to 0.73 for academic outcomes and β = ± 0.24 to 0.59 for behavioral outcomes) after controlling for baseline demographics. Even after controlling for baseline scores, the M-ABR items predicted unique variance in almost all outcome variables. Four conditional probability indices were calculated to obtain an optimal cut score, to determine ready vs. not ready, for both single-item M-ABR scales. The cut point of “fair” yielded the most acceptable values for the indices. The odd ratios (OR) of experiencing negative outcomes given a “fair” or lower readiness rating (2 or below on the M-ABR screeners) at the beginning of the year were significant and strong for all outcomes (OR = 2.29 to OR = 14.46), except for internalizing problems. These findings suggest promise for using single readiness items to screen for varying negative end-of-year student outcomes.

Journal of School Psychology, 64, 1–16.