in the classroom, are relatively inexpensive to administer and process, and take an hour or less to complete. These are:

  • Profiles of Student Life: Attitudes and Behaviors;

  • the Student Survey of Risk and Protective Factors, and Prevalence of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug Use; and

  • the Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

Profiles of Student Life: Attitudes and Behaviors

The Profiles of Student Life: Attitudes and Behaviors (PSL-AB) survey, developed by the Search Institute, has been administered in over 1,000 communities since 1989. It is designed for youth in grades 6 through 12 and is based on a comprehensive framework grounded in the youth development literature (Scales and Leffert, 1999). The framework includes eight asset areas: four internal (commitment to learning, positive values, social competencies, and positive identity) and four external (support, empowerment, boundaries and expectations, and constructive use of time). There are 40 assets in all, as well as multiple measures of thriving and risk behaviors.

The questions used in the survey were culled primarily from national surveys. About half of the assets are measured as scales based on three or four items. A psychometric analysis of these scales revealed Cronbach’s alpha coefficients ranging from to .31 to .82, with about two-thirds of the scales exceeding the .60 level, a common cutoff point used in research. The validity of the assets is primarily face validity based on their relationship in the research literature to the promotion of healthy behavior, the prevention of risk behaviors, or both. Analyses based on PSL-AB data revealed strong relationships between the number of assets a youth has and the prevalence of risk and thriving behaviors. These analyses are based on large but nonrepresentative and disproportionately white samples across multiple communities (see Leffert et al., 1998, for details).

Although the assets and their representative measures are grounded in existing academic research, the research base is, as its designers freely admit, rather thin or mixed for a number of the assets, such as empowerment, positive values, cultural competence, self-esteem, and sense of purpose (Leffert et al., 1998).

Clearly, some of the measures used in the PSL-AB race ahead of the underlying science, and a number of the constructed scales fall well be-

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