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BASC-2 Behavioral and Emotional Screening System

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BASC-2 Behavioral and Emotional Screening System


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BASC-2 Behavioral and Emotional Screening System

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BASC-2 Behavioral and Emotional Screening System By: Kamphaus, Randy W., Reynolds, Cecil R., 20070101, Vol. 18


Mental Measurements Yearbook with Tests in Print

BASC-2 Behavioral and Emotional Screening System

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Review of the Behavioral and Emotional Screening System by MICHAEL J. FURLONG, Professor, Gevirtz Graduate School of Education, and LINDSEY O’BRENNAN, University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA:
DESCRIPTION. The BASC-2 Behavioral and Emotional Screening System (BASC-2 BESS) is a mental health screener that assesses for externalizing, internalizing, and school problems, and adaptive skills among youths ages 3-18. This brief assessment can be completed in 5 minutes and uses a cross-informant strategy with teacher (27 items, Grades K-12), parent (30 items, preschool and child/adolescent), and student (30 items, Grades 3-12) forms. There is substantial content overlap, but each version has unique items. A 4-point frequency response scale is used-never, sometimes, often, and almost always. Teachers and parents read the administration instructions; however, an audio recording is available for parents with reading difficulties. Students can complete the forms after receiving oral instructions from a teacher or other test administrator, and audio recording is available for students with reading difficulties. Both student and parent forms are available in English and Spanish.
Scoring can be completed manually or using the ASSIST software program. This utility provides the user with individual and group assessment reports (useful for class-wide screening), which includes the total raw score, T-scores, percentile rank, classification level, and validity indexes scores (described later in this review). Total T-scores are used to indicate if a youth’s scores are in one of the following ranges: Normal (T-score of 60 or below), Elevated (T-score of 61-70), or Extremely Elevated (T-score of 71 or above). Forms also can be hand scored using the normative tables provided in the manual, although the test authors do not recommend this practice. An innovative empirical strategy was used to compute three validity indexes (F Index, Consistency Index, and Response Pattern Index) to assess if a respondent provided truthful and accurate information, which is commendable and unique for a mental health screening instrument. Finally, the test authors suggest how to use the BASC-2 BESS during the multiple stages of a comprehensive screening process. They indicate that the BASC-2 BESS can be used during initial screening stages, as part of a comprehensive assessment of at-risk youth, or during intervention to monitor progress.
DEVELOPMENT. The BASC-2 BESS was developed by the test authors to (a) assess an individual’s behavioral and emotional strengths and weaknesses; (b) gather information from multiple informants; and (c) provide a quick, reliable screening tool for individuals and groups of children. The items were taken from the widely used Behavior Assessment Scale for Children-2 (BASC-2; Reynolds & Kamphaus, 2004) Teacher Rating Scales (TRS), Parent Rating Scales (PRS), and Self-Report of Personality (SRP). During the BASC-2 BESS item selection process, the test authors began by identifying items with the highest factor loadings on each of the BASC-2 composites (Externalizing Problems, Internalizing Problems, School Problems, Adaptive Skills/Personal Adjustment, and Inattention/Hyperactivity). These items were then compared across student, teacher, and parent versions to assess whether their properties were maintained across respondents. Items were then tested for reliability and group bias. Most items are the same as those on the corresponding form of the BASC-2; however, there are between one (student) and eight (parent preschool) new items included in the five BASC-2 BESS versions.
The norming sample for the BASC-2 BESS is diverse with regard to race/ethnicity, geographic region, socioeconomic status, and classification in special-education programs. The demographics of the sample closely resemble that of the U.S. population. However, the test authors acknowledge areas where the sample may not match with the population as closely (in a few areas in the preschool samples).
Standardization. The BASC-2 BESS was developed using the original BASC-2 TRS, PRS, and SRP standardization samples. This process was conducted from 2002-2004 using a sample of 3,300 students, 4,450 teachers, and 4,600 parents from 233 cities in 40 states (N = 12,350). The test authors provide ample information on the representation of the sample by age, gender, geographic region, race/ethnicity, and mother’s education level. Combined-sex and separate-sex norm groups are provided. They also divided the norms by age due to the developmental differences in average Total scores. There are two groupings for preschoolers (age 3 and ages 4-5) and three groupings for child/adolescent levels (ages 5-9 [ages 8-9 for the student form], 10-14, and 15-18).
Reliability. Sufficient evidence is provided in the manual related to internal consistency, test-retest reliability, and interrater reliability. Internal consistency on all forms was measured through split-half reliability, with reliability coefficients ranging from .90 to .97. Test-retest reliability was examined using various diverse samples ranging from 78 to 227 participants, and using intervals that ranged from 0 to 88 days. The forms ranged in reliability from .80 to .91, with the student child/adolescent form having the lowest reliability and the teacher child/adolescent form having the highest. Interrater reliability was also examined using diverse, representative samples ranging from 65 to 112 participants. Scores were compared on the same child by different raters (i.e., both mother and father scores; different teachers). Reliability was somewhat higher for parent forms (.83 and .82) than teacher forms (.80 and .71). The test authors ascribed this difference to the fact that students in middle and high school have multiple teachers, which can lead to varying observed behaviors in the school setting.
Validity. Ample evidence is provided that supports the BASC-2 BESS’s validity as a screening measure. The global composite score on the BASC-2 BESS shows high correlations with the BASC-2 TRS, PRS, and SRP global composite scores (r = .94, .90, .86, respectively). This was not unexpected because the BASC-2 BESS items are a subset of the BASC-2 items. The manual also indicates that the BASC-2 BESS has relatively strong correlations with global composite scores from the Achenbach System of Empirically Based Assessment measures, including Caregiver-Teacher Report Form (r = .76); Teacher’s Report Form (r = .76); Child Behavior Checklist ages 1-5 (r = .71) and ages 6-18 (r = .76); and the Youth Self-Report Form (r = .77). Relatively strong validity correlations were also shown between the BASC-2 BESS and global composite scores from the Conners’ teacher, parent, and student forms (r = .78, .62, .51, respectively). In addition, a positive correlation was found with the global composite score from the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function (BRIEF; r = .78), a measure designed to assess executive functioning. However, only moderate correlations were found between the BASC-2 BESS and adaptive behavior composite scores from the Vineland-II Teacher Rating Form (r = -.39 and -.66 for preschool and child/adolescent levels, respectively) and Survey Interview and Parent/Caregiver Rating Forms (r = -.46 and -.50 for preschool and child/adolescent levels, respectively). Finally, moderate correlations were found when compared to the Children’s Depression Inventory (r = .51) and the Revised Children’s Manifest Anxiety Scale (r = .55). All samples used for validity testing were relatively large and representative of the population.
Predictive validity was also assessed and the results indicated that the teacher and parent forms could be used to predict future behavioral and emotional functioning (sensitivity values above .50). However, the forms poorly predict preschoolers’ internalizing problems. On the other hand, student forms showed good sensitivity for students’ future externalizing and internalizing problems. In addition, the manual outlines preliminary findings from longitudinal studies examining the predictive validity of the BASC-2 BESS on academic and behavioral outcomes (see DiStefano & Kamphaus, 2007; Kamphaus et al., 2007). Teacher and parent forms were shown to moderately predict academic achievement in reading and math, whereas the teacher and student forms were able to moderately predict grade-point average.
COMMENTARY. The BASC-2 BESS teacher, parent, and student forms are quick screeners that are easy to use in a variety of settings. Its key strengths are the ample evidence supporting the robust reliability and validity of this measure. In addition, the BASC-2 BESS has high positive correlations with general measures of behavior and emotional problems, ADHD, and executive functioning. The forms also appear to have good sensitivity for predicting future child and adolescent behavioral and emotional functioning.
Although the test authors provide information about how this measure can be used across settings, there is no mention of the theory used in creating the BASC-2 measures. In addition, there was no mention of a pilot study used during the development of the BASC-2 BESS. Finally, it is somewhat less reliable and valid in assessing student internalizing symptoms; however, this is also true of other child and adolescent mental health screening instruments. The BASC-2 BESS shows promise as a youth mental health screener; however, more work is needed to understand how best to measure these problems, especially among the preschool population. Despite these caveats, the BASC-2 BESS is based on a sound record of past and ongoing empirical research. This instrument is arguably the omnibus mental health screener of choice in school settings. Interested users should also examine the Ohio Scales (Ogles & Southern Consortium for Children, 2000).
SUMMARY. The BASC-2 BESS measures a range of behavioral and emotional problems among youth in preschool to high school. It consists of three brief screening measures, including teacher, parent, and student forms that are quick and easy to use. It shows substantial promise as a screening tool based on its good reliability and moderate to high validity with other measures. Moreover, preliminary studies have shown it to have good predictive validity. However, its sensitivity to effectively predict internalizing problems among youth is less clear.
DiStefano, C. A., & Kamphaus, R. W. (2007). Development and validation of a behavioral screener for preschool-age children. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 15, 93-102.
Kamphaus, R. W., Thorpe, J. S., Winsor, A. P., Kronke, A. P., Dowdy, E. T., & VanDeventer, M. C. (2007). Development and predictive validity of a teacher screener for child behavioral and emotional problems at school. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 67, 342-356.
Ogles, B. M., & Southern Consortium for Children. (2000). The Ohio Scales-Youth Version. Retrieved May 10, 2008, from
Reynolds, C. R., & Kamphaus, R. W. (2004). Behavior Assessment System for Children (2nd ed.). Circle Pines, MN: AGS Publishing.

Review of the BASC-2 Behavioral and Emotional Screening System by KATHLEEN M. JOHNSON, Psychologist, Lincoln Public Schools, Lincoln, NE:
DESCRIPTION. The BASC-2 Behavioral and Emotional Screening System (BASC-2 BESS) is designed to determine behavioral and emotional strengths and weaknesses in children and adolescents in preschool through high school. The BASC-2 BESS is based on the Behavior Assessment System for Children, Second Edition (BASC-2; 17:21), and includes a set of brief, multi-informant screening instruments. Parent and teacher rating forms are available for two levels (preschool level: ages 3-5 and child/adolescent level: Grades K-12) and a student rating form is available (Grades 3-12). Each of the BASC-2 BESS screening forms yields one total score to be used as a predictor/screener for a wide range of potential behavioral, emotional, and academic problems. The rating forms include both positively and negatively worded items to minimize rater response sets. Each form is composed of 25 to 30 key items that were selected to tap into commonly identified behavioral and emotional categories: externalizing, internalizing, and school problems, as well as adaptive skills/strengths. The test authors provide detailed guidance regarding the general use of the BASC-2 BESS, such as choosing which children to assess, which forms to use, and how often to do screenings. The BASC-2 BESS is intended for use by schools, mental health clinics, pediatric clinics, communities, and researchers to screen for a variety of behavioral and emotional disorders. The test authors specifically recommend using the BASC-2 BESS as an efficient means of doing systematic, early screening in school settings to help determine which students most need intervention or additional resources. Kamphaus and Reynolds caution users that the BASC-2 BESS is intended to determine risk status and is not a diagnostic tool. Follow-up assessment is needed, after using the BASC-2 BESS, to evaluate specifically the behavioral and emotional needs of some children and adolescents for treatment purposes.
According to the test authors, the BASC-2 BESS measures can be completed in about 5 minutes with no specialized training needed by the person at the point of administration. The directions for completing the forms are straightforward and printed right on the forms. Audio recordings of the directions and the items are also available on a compact disc for both of the parent forms (preschool and school age) and for the student form in English and Spanish, if needed or preferred. Spanish-language versions of the parent and student forms are also available. Each item is briefly stated and the rater marks the frequency rate for each behavior described, using a 4-point scale: Never, Sometimes, Often, Almost Always (N, S, O, or A). All forms can be scored by hand or by computer software. Responses can be hand-keyed into the software or scanned in for computer-generated individual scores and other group data reports; the computer-scoring program was not made available for this review. Age-based norm tables are provided in the manual to determine T-scores and the percentile ranks based on total raw scores for each form. Classifications are also provided to describe the level of risk that a child or teen may be exhibiting in terms of behavioral or emotional problems. T-scores within one standard deviation of the mean indicate normal risk, T-scores between one and two standard deviations above the mean indicate elevated risk, and T-scores more than two standard deviations above the mean indicate extremely elevated risk. Additionally, score validity indices of consistency, negative response set, and repeated response patterns are available to aid with interpretation of the findings. Although male and female norm groups are available to users, the use of the combined-sex norms is recommended for general use.
DEVELOPMENT. The BASC-2 BESS was developed to provide a brief and efficient method of screening children and adolescents for potential behavioral and emotional problems. All of the BASC-2 BESS items came originally from the BASC-2 item pool. The final items were selected with a primary goal of having a single score from each form (teacher, parent, and student) that would reliably predict the likelihood of behavioral and emotional problems for an individual child or adolescent. Several stages of item selection were utilized. Initially, within each form (teacher, parent, and student) the items that had the strongest correlations with their respective composite scores (e.g., externalizing problems) were selected. These items were then evaluated and the items that had the best overall qualities (e.g., high loadings across forms, unique content) were retained. Based on the selection criteria, a few of the items selected for the BASC-2 BESS were part of the BASC-2 standardization process, but not included in the final published BASC-2 forms. About 30 items were selected for each form and level, and preliminary reliability statistics were used to examine the internal consistency of each form. The final item set was determined for each form, and differential item functioning analyses were conducted to identify bias issues (problem items were replaced with alternate items). The reader may also consult the BASC-2 manual for additional information on the original item development procedures (Reynolds & Kamphaus, 2004).
TECHNICAL. The BASC-2 BESS normative data are part of the standardization data of the Behavior Assessment System for Children-Second Edition (BASC-2; Reynolds & Kamphaus, 2004). The standardization was conducted using a large, nationally representative sample (in terms of sex, socioeconomic status/parental education, race/ethnicity, geographic region, and special education classification), and the demographic targets closely approximated the 2004 U.S. Census. Over 12,000 total forms (parent, teacher, and student forms across the various age groups) from 40 states were collected as part of the standardization process. In the manual, the test authors provide detailed information about the characteristics of the norm group. The BASC-2 BESS reliability data indicate strong internal consistency levels for the parent, teacher, and student forms, with coefficient values above .90. Test-retest correlations were calculated on representative subgroups of the total sample for each form (parent, teacher, and student) and age level (preschool and school-age). The testing interval ranged from 0 to 88 days. The adjusted coefficient values ranged from .80 for the student form to .91 for the teacher child/adolescent form, indicating moderate to strong test-retest reliability. Interrater reliability coefficient values were moderate, ranging from .71 for the teacher child/adolescent form to .83 for the parent preschool form.
The process of item selection using principal components analyses lends support for the construct validity of the BASC-2 BESS total score. Concurrent and predictive studies cited by the test authors also provide validity evidence. For example, the correlations between the BASC-2 BESS total score and the Total Problems score on the Achenbach System of Empirically Based Assessment were strong: .71 to .77 for the parent, teacher, and student forms. Moderately strong negative correlations were also found between the BASC-2 BESS score and the Vineland-II adaptive composite score, as would be expected based on the content of the scales. Correlations between the student form score and self-report measures of internalizing problems (e.g., depression and anxiety) ranged from .51 to .55. Accuracy rates for predicting outcomes (using two classifications: normal range vs. risk range scores) from the BASC-2 BESS to the BASC-2 were also examined by the test authors. The highest predictive relationship was between the BASC-2 BESS score and the Behavioral Symptoms Index (global scores on the parent and teacher forms of the BASC-2) and between the BASC-2 BESS total score and the Emotional Symptoms Index (global score on the student form of the BASC-2). This finding is expected based on the overlap in items, item content, and all of the scores being global measure scores. At more specific composite score levels, there was less predictive value between the BASC-2 BESS score and the BASC-2 score for internalizing problems than for externalizing problems based on the parent and teacher ratings. The student form score was found to have a somewhat stronger predictive correlation with the BASC-2 internalizing problems score as compared to the correlation between the parent and teacher form scores and BASC-2 internalizing problem scores. Data from students identified by parents as having a previous clinical diagnosis indicated slight differences (slightly elevated risk) in group mean scores on the BASC-2 BESS parent and teacher forms (e.g., the group of students reported by parents as having ADHD had a BASC-2 BESS mean scores of 60.8 on the teacher form and 63.8 on the parent form). Reynolds and Kamphaus also present 4-year longitudinal data comparing BASC-2 BESS scores to various school outcome measures. The results indicate at least a mild (inverse) relationship between the BASC-2 BESS score and academic performance in reading and math (e.g., grade-point average, achievement test scores). No clear relationships were found among BASC-2 BESS scores and measures of attendance (e.g., days absent or tardy).
COMMENTARY. The BASC-2 BESS has excellent psychometric properties that are thoroughly documented in the manual. The rating forms are very brief, straightforward in format, and easy to score (by hand or by computer software). Even though the forms are brief, care was taken to include both positively and negatively worded items. Interpretation of the findings is aided by the availability of validity indices (e.g., response consistency). The test authors appropriately caution users that although no specialized training is needed for administration, professional input is needed for making decisions for follow-up on the BASC-2 BESS results. With increased interest in and need for universal screening to better address the needs of children, especially in school settings, the BASC-2 BESS may be a useful option. It can serve as a beginning point in a multistage intervention process for addressing behavioral and mental health problems.
SUMMARY. The Behavioral and Emotional Screening System (BESS) is a Behavior Assessment System for Children, Second Edition (BASC-2) tool, developed since the publication of the BASC-2. It was designed as a means of broadly screening children and adolescents for potential behavioral and emotional problems in school settings, mental health clinics, pediatric practices, and research sites. The BASC-2 BESS includes a set of brief, multi-informant rating forms. Parent and teacher forms are available for two age levels (preschool level: ages 3-5 and child/adolescent level: Grades K-12), and a student self-rating form is available for Grades 3-12. The test authors accurately differentiate screening from assessment and diagnosis efforts. The BASC-2 BESS is not a diagnostic tool and the results indicate only a level of normal, elevated, or extremely elevated risk for students as having or developing behavioral and/or emotional problems. It is a well-developed, valid, and reliable norm-referenced screening tool that may be a useful tool within a multi-stage diagnosis and intervention model.
Reynolds, C. R., & Kamphaus, R. W. (2004). Behavior Assessment System for Children (2nd ed.). Circle Pines, MN: AGS Publishing.

*** Copyright © 2014. The Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska and the Buros Center for Testing. All rights reserved. Any unauthorized use is strictly prohibited. Buros Center for Testing, Buros Institute, Mental Measurements Yearbook, and Tests in Print are all trademarks of the Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska and may not be used without express written consent.

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