Multicultural Findings for Caregiver and Teacher Ratings of Preschoolers’ Behavioral, Emotional, and Social Problems

Previous Research Updates have reported multicultural findings for ASEBA ratings of 1½ -5- year-olds by their parents, 6-18-year-olds by their parents and teachers, and 11-18-year-olds by the youths themselves. New articles by Masha Ivanova, Leslie Rescorla, and international colleagues from 14 societies have compared syndromes and scale scores for ratings of 1½-5-year-olds by their daycare providers and preschool teachers on the Caregiver-Teacher Report Form (C-TRF; Ivanova et al., 2011; Rescorla et al., 2012) The C-TRF has 99 items that describe behavioral, emotional, and social problems, which are rated 0 = not true (as far as you know), 1 = somewhat or sometimes true, or 2 = very true or often true, based on the preceding 2 months. Eighty-two of the items have counterparts on the Child Behavior Checklist for Ages 1½-5 (CBCL/1½-5), which is completed by parent figures. Each form also has open-ended items for rating problems added by the informant, for describing the child’s illnesses and disabilities, what concerns the informant most about the child, and the best things about the child.

The problem items of the C-TRF and CBCL/1½-5 are scored on six syndromes derived from exploratory factor analyses (EFAs) and confirmatory factor analyses (CFAs) of large samples of Anglophone children, mostly from the U.S. The syndromes are designated as Emotionally Reactive, Anxious/Depressed, Somatic Complaints, Withdrawn, Attention Problems, and Aggressive Behavior. The CBCL/1½-5 has an additional syndrome designated as Sleep Problems. Both instruments are also scored on scales designated as Stress Problems, Internalizing, Externalizing, and Total Problems, plus DSM-oriented scales designated as Affective Problems, Anxiety Problems, Pervasive Developmental Problems, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Problems, and Oppositional Defiant Problems.

Ivanova et al. tested the degree to which the 2-level C-TRF model comprising the 6 syndromes subsumed by the broad-band Internalizing and Externalizing scales fit C-TRF ratings of children in the following 14 societies: Austria, Chile, China, Denmark, Germany, Iceland, Iran, Italy, Kosovo, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, and Serbia (N = 9,389). As measured by the Root Mean Square Error of Approximation (RMSEA), the 2-level C-TRF model fit the C-TRF ratings from all 14 societies. However, error warnings from the Mplus software used to perform the CFAs indicated that the Emotionally Reactive and Anxious/Depressed syndromes were sufficiently correlated with each other that combining them into a single syndrome would be justified for several societies. On the other hand, a 2-factor model comprising the Internalizing grouping of Emotionally Reactive, Anxious/Depressed, Withdrawn, and Somatic Complaints syndromes, plus the Externalizing grouping comprising the Attention Problems and Aggressive Behavior syndromes was more strongly supported for some other societies. The overall findings supported multicultural use of the syndromes, Internalizing, and Externalizing scales that were originally derived from C-TRF ratings of Anglophone children. However, improvements could be achieved by combining the Emotionally Reactive and Anxious/Depressed syndromes for some societies and by using the Internalizing-Externalizing model in some other societies.

Caregivers and preschool teachers have different training, play different roles vis-à-vis children, and may observe different behaviors. Furthermore, societies differ with respect to the proportions and characteristics of children who attend daycare or preschool. The differences between caregivers vs. teachers, between the behavior of children in daycare vs. preschool, and between society-specific selective factors related to attending out-of-home programs could all have reduced the uniformity found for C-TRF syndromes below the greater uniformity previously found for ASEBA syndromes when more representative samples of entire child populations were rated by more homogeneous sets of informants who saw the children in more similar settings.

Using the C-TRFs analyzed by Ivanova et al., plus 1,192 C-TRFs completed for U.S. children, Rescorla et al. (2012) tested differences between scores from 15 societies (including the U.S.), boys vs. girls, and ages 1½-3 vs. 4-5 on all C-TRF scales. Differences among societies were significant on all scales, ranging from effect sizes (ESs) accounting for 5% of the variance on the DSM-oriented Affective Problems and Oppositional Defiant Problems scales, to 15% for the Somatic Complaints syndrome, which was the only ES that met criteria for large ESs. Gender differences accounted for <1% of variance (i.e., very small ESs) on several scales. However, ESs of 2-3% reflected higher scores for boys than girls on the Attention Problems and Aggressive Behavior syndromes, DSM-oriented Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Problems scale, and Externalizing. Effects of age and interactions of age and gender with societies were all tiny, with none reaching even 1%.

Rescorla et al. additionally tested correlations between mean scores on each of the 99 C-TRF items in each society and in every other society. Averaged over the correlations obtained between each pair of societies, the mean correlation was .73. This indicated considerable similarity among societies with respect to the items that received relatively low, medium, or high ratings.

Rescorla et al. also compared C-TRF scores and scores on CBCL/1½-5 forms that had been completed for 7,380 children from 13 societies. The comparisons were based on just the 82 problem items that have counterparts on both forms. In all 13 societies, parents’ ratings yielded significantly higher Total Problems scores than caregiver/teacher ratings. Across the 13 societies in which ratings were obtained on both forms, the correlation was .87 between C-TRF and CBCL/1½-5 mean Total Problems scores. This large correlation indicated great consistency in societies’ tendencies to have low, medium, or high Total Problems scores in ratings by both caregiver/teachers and parents. Correlations between mean C-TRF and CBCL/1½-5 scores on the items having counterparts on both forms averaged .80 across the 13 societies. This indicated high agreement between caregiver/teachers and parents on the items that they rated low, medium, or high, on the average. However, when correlations were computed between the 0-1-2 ratings of each item by the caregiver/teacher vs. the parent of each child separately, the mean correlation was .25. This much smaller correlation indicates that individual children were seen rather differently by their caregiver/teacher and parent, whereas the large correlation of .80 between mean C-TRF vs. CBCL/1½-5 ratings indicates that such differences were not due to general tendencies for caregiver/teachers and parents to endorse different items.

Multicultural norms based on the data reported by Ivanova and Rescorla enable users to display C-TRF scale scores in relation to norms for user-selected societies, as detailed by Achenbach and Rescorla (2010).

References: Achenbach, T. M., & Rescorla, L.A. (2010). Multicultural Supplement to the Manual for the ASEBA Preschool Forms & Profiles. Burlington, VT: University of Vermont Research Center for Children, Youth, and Families.

Ivanova, M.Y. et al. (2011). Syndromes of preschool psychopathology reported by teachers and caregivers in 14 societies using the Caregiver-Teacher Report Form (C-TRF). Journal of Early Childhood and Infant Psychology, 7, 87-103.

Rescorla, L.A. et al. (2012). Behavioral/emotional problems of preschoolers: Caregiver/teacher reports from 15 societies. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 20, 1-14.