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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Identifying at-risk early primary students : global, academic and specific skills assessments Francis, Rosalyn Frances

Abstract

The primary purpose of this study is to investigate the extent to which teacher ratings are consistent in classifying kindergarten students when using measuring instruments that range from a broad global classification to a specific skills rating system. A secondary purpose of this study is to validate a Teacher-made Checklist of skills intended for kindergarten or early primary children. The problem that the study addressed was, if teachers apply their own standards in making global assessments of children's performance, to what extent are these ratings consistent with subsequent specific ratings using several global items or several specific ratings of skills and abilities? The study was conducted over three phases. In the first phase, the teachers were asked to categorize the students in one of their kindergarten classes as high, average or low. Secondly, teachers were asked to rate their students using the Academic Competence Questionnaire subtest from the Social Skills Rating System (Gresham & Elliott, 1990). In the third and final phase teachers were asked to rate their students using a skill specific Teacher-made Checklist. A total of 17 kindergarten teachers participated in the study. They rated 336 kindergarten students. A series of correlational analyses were computed in order to establish validity of the Teacher-made Checklist. As well, a procedure using Hierarchical Cluster Analysis was utilized in order to form homogeneous groups of students and to assist in making predictions of at-risk and low-risk groups. A series of one-way ANOVA's were computed to test if significant differences existed between the clusters and post hoc analysis using Tukey procedure was used to test for the extent of the difference between the groups. Cross-tabular analyses were performed to investigate differences in grouping patterns among the three phases. Although teachers initially categorized the students into three groups, four groups emerged using Cluster Analysis in Phases 2 and 3. The Teacher Checklist using the subscales appeared to identify the students into four groups most clearly. The data and analyses indicated that teachers are uniform in classifying students, however teachers need guidelines to assist them in identifying those students who may be at-risk for school learning problems. A follow-up study to further validate the Teacher Checklist is needed.

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