School readiness in Children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities: Psychometric findings from a new screening tool, the Brief Early Skills and Support Index

Claire H Hughes*, Sarah Foley, Naomi White, R.T. Devine

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
446 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Background: There is an urgent need to accelerate the detection of special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). A recent brief questionnaire designed for teachers and nursery staff, the Brief Early Skills and Support Index (BESSI) shows promising psychometric properties, but has yet to be evaluated as a tool for detecting children who may have SEND.

Aims: Addressing this gap, the current study aimed to assess whether BESSI scores: (i) show measurement invariance across SEND status; (ii) show unique associations with SEND status; and (iii) are sensitive and specific to SEND status.

Sample: 84 teachers and nursery staff completed BESSI ratings for 2106 British children aged 2.5 to 5.5 years (48.9% male, 20% ethnic minority, 9.3% with a statement of SEND).

Method: We applied multi-level confirmatory factor analyses, regression analyses and ROC analyses to examine each of the study questions, using the BESSI subscales (behavioral adjustment, language and cognition, daily living skills and family support) as dependent variables.

Results: The four BESSI subscales were reliable and showed measurement invariance across SEND status. Over and above effects of age, gender, family income, ethnicity and family size, SEND status predicted substantial unique variance in BESSI scores. ROC analyses showed that in detecting children identified as having SEND, a cut-off score of 8.50 on the BESSI total score produced good levels of sensitivity and specificity; gender-specific analyses indicated a lower cut-off score of 6.50 for girls.

Conclusion: The BESSI appears to be a useful tool in screening children for more detailed assessment of SEND.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)606-627
Number of pages22
JournalBritish Journal of Educational Psychology
Volume88
Issue number4
Early online date21 Dec 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018

Bibliographical note

Acknowledgment:
This study was funded by the Westminster Foundation and the Foundation Years Trust, Birkenhead, UK.

Keywords

  • psychometric
  • school readiness
  • screening
  • special educational needs and disability

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