The multi-dimensional assessment of student behavior that is incorporated into the ESSP is designed to provide school staff with individual and group-level data on a range of positive and negative behaviors. Additional questions on the ESSP for Teachers include items about student performance and teacher perceptions of students and their families.
The current study is the first test of the factor structure and quality of the behavior items on the ESSP for Teachers. The goal of the study is to establish the quality of the behavior items and composites of those items in order to support their use in school efforts to target specific behavior issues with appropriate intervention strategies. The ESSP is also a research tool.
Methods: Data collected with the ESSP from 3rd through 5th grade students in eight schools in two North Carolina school districts were combined for the study. Students in one school district were part of a longitudinal intervention study targeting all students in four schools in the 2007 third grade. In the second district, a random sample of low performing students in all three grades was targeted for a one-year intervention. Data were collected on 451 students. Of that number, 413 cases had data from teachers. SPSS 16.0 was used to conduct exploratory factor analyses of the behavior items. Principal axis factoring was used, due to the non-normal distribution characteristics of the data. Promax rotation was used because it was assumed that different dimensions of behavior would be correlated.
Results: Simple structure was obtained with a four factor solution representing social engagement, social skills, classroom learning behavior, and aggressive behavior. Six items of the 27 submitted to the factor analysis were removed from the solution due to inadequate loadings or double loadings. Final factor loadings ranged from .56 to .92, with most exceeding .80. The alpha coefficient for the four items loading on the social engagement scale was .94. The alpha for five items loading on a social skills scale was .93. Data from eight items assessing classroom learning behavior had an alpha of .97. Four items assessing aggressive behavior had an alpha of .93.
Implications: The factor analysis and reliability results support the psychometric quality of data collected from teachers with the online ESSP. The four behavior scales are appropriately used as composites to guide the intervention planning of school practitioners. The online availability of the ESSP for Teachers, its brevity, the simplicity of its results format, and the linkage of data to feasible school-based strategies combine with the results of the tests reported here to make the ESSP for Teachers a valuable tool for elementary school practice and research.