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Interpretation of ASEBA Scores & Profiles

Q: How are Total Competence and Total Problems scores used?

Q: None of the Externalizing scales is high, yet the Externalizing T Score is in the clinical range. Why?

Q: Why do narrow-band CBCL and YSR Competence scale scores in the normal range yield a Total Competence score in the borderline or clinical range?

Q: If a child scores high on the Delinquent Behavior scale on a pre-2001 form (now designated the Rule-Breaking Behavior scale), does that mean he is a Juvenile Delinquent?

Q: What are the 2007 YSR Positive Qualities (PQ) and ASR/ABCL Personal Strengths scales?

Q: Could you explain what you mean by “other problems”?

Q: Should extremely low problem scores be considered deviant?

Q: Why are there big gaps between successive raw scores on some scales?

Q: How much of a change in a child’s score should be considered a real change?

Q: Does your software calculate a pre-test/post-test difference score?

Q: Are there norms for special groups, e.g., inner city children, Hispanic children, children with SED, etc?

Q: Can I get the factor loadings for the problem items?

Q: What is "reliability"?

Q: What is "validity"?

Q: The informant wrote in “Watches television” or something clearly not an obsession or compulsion under 9. Obsessions or 66. Compulsions. Should the replacement item be scored missing or scored zero (Not true)?

 

Q: How are Total Competence and Total Problems scores used?

These scores provide global indices of the child’s competencies and problems, as seen by the respondent. For details of cutpoints on these scales, refer to the appropriate manual for your form.

The Total Problems score can also be used to compare problems in different groups and to assess change as a function of time or intervention. The Total Competence score can be used in similar ways, but is not as susceptible to change, because it is determined partly by historical data, such as repetition of grades in school.

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Q: None of the Externalizing scales is high, yet the Externalizing T-Score is in the clinical range. Why?

Moderate levels of problems scattered over several syndrome scales can add up to a high broad-band score. Also, the clinical range starts at a lower level on the Internalizing, Externalizing, and Total Problems scales than on the syndrome scales. See the respective manuals for information about relations between clinical cutpoints on different scales.

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Q: Why do narrow-band CBCL and YSR Competence scale scores in the normal range yield a Total Competence score in the borderline or clinical range?

There are two reasons why this can occur:

1. As explained in the School-Age Manual, p. 20, column 1, 2nd to last paragraph, the cutpoints on the Total Competence scale are less conservative (i.e., at higher T scores and percentiles) than on the narrow-band scales, because each narrow-band scale comprises fewer items that span less diverse aspects of functioning than the Total Competence score. (The same explanation applies to the higher cutpoints on the narrow-band problem scales than on the Total Problems scale.)

2. If a child obtains low-normal percentiles on all three narrow-band competence scales, the sum of the child's scores may nevertheless be at a lower percentile in the normative distribution for the Total Competence score than for each narrow-band scale. This is because many children who obtain a low-normal percentile on one narrow-band scale obtain higher scores on the other two narrow-band scales, thereby giving them a higher percentile on the Total Competence scale than would be obtained by a child who obtains low-normal scores on all three narrow-band scales. The low Total Competence percentile for the child who obtains low-normal scores on all three narrow-band scales merely reflects the fact that, when all three narrow-band scores are combined, the child scores lower relative to the normative sample of children than when the than when the child's score on each narrow-band scale is separately compared to the normative sample of children.

Q: If a child scores high on the Delinquent Behavior scale on a pre-2001 form (now designated the Rule-Breaking Behavior scale), does that mean he is a Juvenile Delinquent?

No. The names of the scales are mainly intended to summarize the content of the scales. Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary defines the term “delinquent” as “conduct that is out of accord with accepted behavior or law” and “offending by neglect or violation of duty or law.”

Although some items of the Delinquent Behavior syndrome, such as stealing, are illegal, a high score on the scale for this syndrome does not necessarily mean that a child has broken laws or will be adjudicated delinquent. Instead, it means that the child is reported to engage in more behaviors of the empirically derived Delinquent Behavior syndrome than are reported for normative samples of peers. Similarly, the labels for other syndromes provide summary descriptions for the kinds of problems included in the syndromes, rather than being directly equivalent to any administrative or diagnostic category.

See the discussion of Empirically Based Assessment for more information.

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Q: What are the 2007 YSR Positive Qualities (PQ) and ASR/ABCL Personal Strengths scales?

These scales comprise items previously referred to as "socially desirable items." On the YSR, ASR, and ABCL, the sums of 0-1-2 ratings on these items were significantly lower for people referred for mental health services than for people not referred for mental health services, after controlling for demographic effects. To enable users to obtain scores for the sum of these items and to compare them with norms, versions of ADM starting with 7.0 (2007) sum the item ratings into scores for a scale designated as Positive Qualities (PQ) on the YSR and Personal Strengths on the ASR and ABCL. The ADM Module for Ages 6-18 with Multicultural Options enables users to display PQ scores in relation to their choice of gender-specific Group 1 (low), Group 2 (medium), or Group 3 (high) norms, as detailed in the Multicultural Supplement to the Manual for the ASEBA School-Age Forms and Profiles. The ADM Module for Ages 18-59 enables users to display Personal Strengths scores in relation to age- and gender-specific U.S. norms, as described in the Guide for ASEBA Instruments for Adults/18-59 and Older Adults/60-90+ (2nd edition).

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Q: Could you explain what you mean by “other problems”?

The “Other Problems” on the profile do not constitute a scale. They are merely the items that were either reported too seldom to be included in the derivation of syndromes or did not qualify for the syndrome scales. There are thus no associations among them to warrant treating them as a scale. However, each of these problems may be important in its own right, and they are all included in the Total Problems score.

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Q: Should extremely low problem scores be considered deviant?

Extremely low scores merely reflect the absence of reported problems. The profiles truncate the low end of the syndrome scales, so that a T-score of 50 is the minimum obtainable on any syndrome scale. However, nearly all children have at least some problems. Extremely low scores may suggest that the respondent has not understood the instrument, is poorly informed about the child, or is not being candid. The manual for each instrument provides guidelines for scores that are low or high enough to raise doubts about validity.

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Q: Why are there big gaps between successive raw scores on some scales?

Most gaps directly reflect the distributions of scores in the normative samples, where skewed distributions or clusters of individuals at a particular raw score caused a large change in percentiles from one score to the next. Gaps between scores in the clinical range occur in scales where there were only a few possible scores available for assignment to T-scores in equal intervals.

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Q: How much of a change in a child’s score should be considered a real change?

The Appendix of each manual provides a table of standard errors of measurement separately for referred and non-referred children on each scale. A change of two standard errors of measurement can be considered to exceed most chance fluctuations. However, this is merely an approximation that is most accurate for scores closest to the mean of the relevant distribution shown in the appropriate manual. Users may want to apply their own criteria for particular purposes. For example, if they are assessing changes in intervention vs. control groups, they may require changes for the intervention group that significantly exceed changes for the control group at p < .05. Be aware that scores on many assessment instruments decline somewhat from a first to a second administration, occuring over intervals over less than about a month (“test-retest attenuation effect”), even without any intervention.

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Q: Does your software calculate a pre-test/post-test difference score?

We could not predict all the comparisons users and researchers might want to make. Our manuals therefore supply the raw and scored data file formats for you to use with your own statistical package such as SAS and SPSS.

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Q: Are there norms for special groups, e.g., inner city children, Hispanic children, children with SED, etc?

The U.S. national norms are based on samples that are collectively representative of the non-referred U.S. population with respect to ethnicity, socio-economic status, urban-rural-suburban residence, and geographic area. See our Bibliography of Published Studies for studies of special groups.

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Q: Can I get the factor loadings for the problem items?

For the SCICA, the preschool forms, and the school-age forms, factor loadings are displayed in the Appendix of the appropriate manual.

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Q: What is "reliability"?

Reliability refers to agreement between repeated assessments of phenomena when the phenomena themselves are expected to remain constant. The manuals for all ASEBA instruments report reliability in terms of test-retest correlations and changes in mean scores over periods of about 1 to 2 weeks.

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Q: What is "validity"?

Validity is judged according to how well a procedure measures what it is supposed to measure.

The manuals for the ASEBA instruments provide data that support the content validity, criterion-related validity, and construct validity of the instruments.

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Q: What are the SES codes?

SES codes are for scoring socio-economic status. You can create your own SES coding system or use an established scale such as the Hollingshead Occupation Scale as has been done in our studies of ASEBA instruments. Reference: Hollingshead, A.B. (1975). Four-factor index of social status. Unpublished paper, New Haven, CT: Yale University, Department of Sociology.

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Q: The informant wrote in “Watches television” or something clearly not an obsession or compulsion under 9. Obsessions or 66. Compulsions. Should the item be scored missing or scored zero (Not true)?

If nothing else was entered that could qualify as an obsession or compulsion, items 9 and 66 should be scored zero (Not true).


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