Screening for Behavioral and Emotional Risk Versus Traditional School Identification Methods

Katie Eklund, Erin Dowdy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


Systematic screening is one strategy to enhance the early identification of behavioral and emotional problems among youth. Although conceptually sound, it is unclear if screening is more or less effective than current school identification practices in identifying youth with behavioral and emotional concerns. This study compares screening for behavioral and emotional risk with current identification practices in schools to determine differences among referral methods, across a sample of elementary aged students (N = 867). Results indicated that of the 160 students identified as at-risk by the screening measure, only 61 were previously identified through current school identification methods, highlighting the potential benefit of screening to enhance early identification. Results demonstrated internalizing and externalizing behaviors were significantly correlated with at-risk status by identification method. Furthermore, students identified as demonstrating behavioral and emotional concerns by both the screener and receiving school-based services had significantly lower academic achievement. Implications and future research needs are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)40-49
Number of pages10
JournalSchool Mental Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2014


  • Behavior rating scale
  • Early identification
  • School
  • Screening
  • Teacher referral

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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