Screening & Assessment Tools

Screening Tools

The purpose of a screening tool is to determine whether or not an individual requires further assessment.
The screening “tools” that I use as a teacher alert me to the possible presence of a disorder or problem that may well require further attention, assessment, intervention &/or treatment. They indicate whether further consultations &/or outside intervention may well be warranted, following an assessment.

Assessment Tools

The purpose of an assessment tool is to gather as much information as possible, from as many significant individuals as possible (e.g. the client, parents, pediatricians, social workers, SLPs, OTs, teachers, etc.).

The desired outcome of any assessment is to identify – & if warranted – understand a diagnosis, and following that administer the appropriate treatment(s).

As a teacher I often refer students for psycho-educational assessments. These assessments “consist(s) of an assessment of psychological aspects of learning and of academic skills.” (Source:

& include the following/share the following characteristics/factors:

  1. Birth, biographical information, medical history, client self-report, parent observations, teacher observations, behavioural observations, validity indicator findings, recommendations for self-care, diagnoses, clear explanations of the various tools, classroom /testing/ environmental accommodations
  2. Honesty; a willingness on the part of the individual to be as honest, open and comfortable as possible.
  3. Parental, teacher, pediatrician “buy in”; honesty & openness;
  4. The team involved in the assessment process must ensure that all those involved feel comfortable. Ideally, there must be a sense of trust. There must be as little guilt, defensiveness, sense of denial, anger and/or sadness. Any of these in “the extreme” are counter productive, and must be noted/taken into account. (I have found this difficult to achieve at times.)
  5. Choosing the individual to administer the assessment must be done so with care. For example, I have a list of individuals whom I trust to complete psychoedcuational assessments. I am mindful when it comes to the “matching process”. I am careful to them with children and families.
  6. A good assessment takes diversity and family resources into account.
  7. Acknowledge & take into account any previous assessments.
  8. Goal: a clear, accurate diagnosis/explanation.
  9. A thorough follow-up with families. (As a side note: I have often found that parents come to me to “explain the results” as they are often in shock and the results are not presented in “parent/people friendly language”.
  10. A thorough follow-up in “person friendly” language. Too much jargon is confusing, counterproductive, and scary at times.
  11. A list of further resources and support that take into account the family resources
  12. Roundtable follow up meetings with all those concerned (i.e. the child, the parents, the teachers, the assessor(s), etc.)

A “good” (i.e. valid) assessment will point the client in the right direction in the shortest possible period of time. It will get the ball rolling so to speak.

As a teacher the screening and assessment tools that I use are both formative and observational. (It is important to note that teachers often refer to screening tools as assessment tools.) In addition, I find that with each passing year my observational notes (backed-up by concrete data) prove more valuable than any checklist could ever be when speaking with parents and staff.

The screening & assessment tools that I have been exposed to include – but are not limited to – the following:

Teacher rating Scales for ADHD:
Vanderbilt ADHD Diagnostic Teacher Rating Scale
ADHD Rating Scale-IV (ADHD-IV)
Conners Rating Scale
Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC)
SNAP-IV Rating Scale – Revised (SNAP-IV-R)

SNAP-IV Teacher and Parent Rating Scale

Autism Spectrum Rating Scales™

Spence Children’s Anxiety Scale (SCAS)

Self-Report for Childhood Anxiety Related Emotional Disorders (SCARED)

Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ)

Depression and Anxiety in Youth Scale (DAYS)

Children’s Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale (CY-BOCS)

Children’s Nonverbal Learning Disabilities Scale (C-NLD)

Conduct Disorder Scale (CDS)

Today’s Focus: The Child Behaviour Checklist

Today I have chosen to look further into The Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) which “is part of the Achenbach System of Empirically Based Assessment (ASEBA) & …(t)here are two other components of the ASEBA – the Teacher’s Report Form (TRF) … to be completed by teachers and the Youth Self-Report (YSR) by the child or adolescent.

How it works

The CBCL/6-18 is to be used with children aged 6 to 18. It consists of 113 questions, scored on a three-point Likert scale (0=absent, 1= occurs sometimes, 2=occurs often). The time frame for item responses is the past six months.

The 2001 revision of the CBCL/6-18, is made up of eight syndrome scales:

  • anxious/depressed
  • depressed
  • somatic complaints
  • social problems
  • thought problems
  • attention problems
  • rule-breaking behaviour
  • aggressive behaviour.

These group into two higher order factors–internalizing and externalizing.

The 2001 revision also added six DSM-oriented scales consistent with DSM diagnostic categories:

  • affective problems
  • anxiety problems
  • somatic problems
  • ADHD
  • oppositional defiant problems
  • conduct problems.

The CBCL (and the YSR) are also scored on (optional) competence scales for activities, social relations, school and total competence. In 2001, options for multicultural norms were added allowing scale scores to be displayed in relation to different sets of cultural/societal norms. Scales were also added for obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). “

According to Every Day Life, the pros and cons of such checklists are as follows:
Pro: Ease of Use…
Pro: Early Detection…

Con: Individual Differences…
Con: Reporter Bias…

(Source: “



camh Knowledge exchange: Selecting screening tools

camh Screening tools: Databases

Differences between screening and – diagnostic tests, case finding
McCabe, P., Altamura, M., (2011) Empirically Valid Strategies to Improve Social and Emotional Competence of Preschool Children. Psychology in the Schools, Vol. 48(5), pp 513-540.


Achenbach System of Empirically Based Assessment (ASEBA)

Child Behavior Checklist Scores for School-Aged Children with Autism: Preliminary Evidence of Patterns Suggesting the Need for Referral

Pros and Cons of Child Behavior Checklists

The Pros and Cons of Child Behavior Checklists

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