than other students to demonstrate significant behavior problems in middle school. However, the subset of 1st grade children scoring in the top quartile who were in poorly managed 1st grade classrooms was over 50 times more likely to have conduct problems in middle school. This suggests a very powerful, independent influence of the teacher’s classroom management skills on child behavior outcomes.
Universal and repeated assessments of children and settings in schools have the potential to provide information on the behavioral adjustment of each child, both individually and in relation to other children in a class, school, or district. It also has the potential to provide systematic information on the effects of individual, classroom, or school-wide interventions. Several well-developed and validated assessment tools are available for the classroom settings. Instruments such as the Teacher Observation of Child Adjustment (TOCA; Werthamer-Larsson et al., 1991) and the Scale of Social Competence and School Adjustment (SSCSA; Walker and McConnell, 1995) are appropriate for all students. They provide specific and relevant information to enable teachers to assess the adjustment of every child in their classroom (see Box 8-2). Instruments such as the Child Behavior Checklist Report Form (Achenbach and Edelbrock, 1986), and the Systematic Screening for Behavior Disorders (SSBD) (Walker and Severson, 1992) provide scores and norms on several relevant behavioral and emotional dimensions. Although such instruments are used widely, they were designed and validated on clinical populations and provide useful information only at the extreme end of the continuum of disturbance (i.e., clinical cutoff scores). As such they are less than optimal universal assessment tools.
Direct observational tools that teachers can use with minimal training can be tailored to assess individualized behavioral and emotional adjustment (see Walker et al., 1995). Direct observational strategies are also available for noninstructional school settings (playgrounds, hallways, etc.) in which many behavioral and emotional problems are demonstrated.
As illustrated in the study by Kellam et al. (1998a), children scoring in the top quartile in aggression or conduct problems are at significant risk for subsequent behavior problems. For these children, a second-stage assessment that is individualized to take into account contextual factors should be considered. Such a multiple gating procedure, including three or more graduated assessments, is highly effective, allowing the integration of universal and clinical assessment strategies in a cost-sensitive way (Loeber et al., 1984; Walker and Severson, 1992).
The first level can be used to assess the adjustment, or progress, or response to new school-wide interventions of all students in a classroom, school, or district. The data can then be used to identify a smaller subset for further assessment to determine the appropriateness and then effectiveness