The concept of direct behavior rating (DBR) began in the late 1960s with school psychologist Calvin Edlund. He posited a program whereby teachers first explained to students what acceptable behavior was and then rated them at the end of each lesson. Unlike rating scale assessments, which ask teachers and parents to recall a child’s behavior during a 30-day period or so, direct behavior rating relies on real-time observation.
DBR combines the strength of a rating scale and the benefit of direct observation. Using this system, teachers can not only identify specific behaviors in real time, but they can also rate those behaviors.
From this idea, DBR Connect was created. PAR recently spoke with DBR Connect coauthors Sandra M. Chafouleaus, PhD, and T. Chris Riley-Tillman, PhD, to learn more about how this product can help students and teachers to succeed.
Q: Direct behavior rating has been around for quite some time. Historically, what changes have taken place to get us to where we are today?
Drs. Chafouleas and Riley-Tillman: Yes, direct behavior ratings were developed from daily behavior report cards, home–school notes, and other tools that educators and parents have used for decades as a way to communicate information about child behavior. We took that rich history of use and worked to standardize the instrumentation and procedures. This allowed for comprehensive evaluation of the psychometric evidence for use in screening and progress monitoring purposes. DBR Connect is the result of all of that research and development, overall supporting that DBR Connect can provide data that are reliable, valid, and sensitive to change.
Q: How does DBR tie into positive behavioral support and/or multitiered models of delivery of services?
Multitiered models of service delivery and positive behavioral support are founded in prevention—that is, early identification and remediation of difficulties. These frameworks require use of ongoing data to inform decisions about continuing, modifying, or terminating supports, and DBR Connect functions as an ideal prevention-oriented method for progress monitoring assessment.
Q: You have described DBR Connect as a hybrid tool. What do you mean by that?
DBR Connect offers strengths of both traditional rating scales and systematic direct observation. That is, like systematic direct observation, a predefined observation period is selected with repeated assessment to allow for comparison of data across assessment periods, required in progress monitoring. The instrumentation and procedures are highly efficient like rating scales because only a brief rating of the defined targets is needed to record data.
Q: You mention in your book that one of the roles of DBR is communication. Can you talk a bit about that?
Yes, DBR has a rich history in use for communication purposes, whether teacher–teacher, teacher–parent, teacher–student, or parent–student. It is easy to understand at all levels and provides a simple format for discussing behavior expectations.
Q: What guided your decision to focus on the three core behavioral competencies that you chose for DBR Connect?
Our research started with a broad review of the literature on school-based behavior expectations in schools—including consideration of indicators of student success and those areas most concerning to educators. We narrowed the literature to items that could be defined both in broad and narrow terms, and then conducted a series of research studies to identify those target behaviors that resulted in the strongest evidence for use. In the end, the core school-based behavioral competencies—that is, those behaviors that every student should display in order to fully access instruction and participate in the school environment—are academically engaged, disruptive, and respectful. That said, we also acknowledge that some situations may call for additional targets; thus, we maintain the flexibility by supporting use for any behavior of relevance to a particular context.
Q: Who is the target audience for DBR Connect?
Teachers are the primary users of DBR Connect, meaning they serve as the primary raters and producers of data summaries for decision making. However, all educators (e.g., administrators, school psychologists) can benefit from data reports to inform decision making, and there may be some situations in which other users may serve as appropriate raters (e.g., monitoring of behavior progress during counseling sessions). Remember, an important strength of a DBR data stream is the capacity to share with students and parents to communicate information about behavior.
For more information on DBR Connect or to take a tour, visit http://www.mydbrconnect.com/.