Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 1051–1055 | Cite as

In the Same Ballpark or a Whole New Ball Game? Staff as Raters of Youth Behavior

  • Valerie B. Shapiro
  • Sarah Accomazzo
  • Jennifer L. Robitaille
Original Paper


There is a lack of psychometrically sound tools for measuring youth outcomes in out-of-school time (OST) settings. Consequently, behavior ratings completed by OST staff are being scored as though the raters were teachers, even though cross-informant correlations are notoriously low (meta-analysis r = .27). Across 26 schools, 227 students were assessed by both teachers and OST staff using the Devereux Student Strengths Assessment (DESSA) to measure Social Emotional Competence. These 4th and 5th grade students were 50% male; 53% 5th graders; and 51% Latino, 20% Mixed/Other, 11% Black, 11% Asian, and 7% White. In the full sample, OST staff rated children’s behavior more harshly than teachers (p < .001; d = .32), although the scores were associated (r = .31, p < .001). Among the ratings completed within the same week, teacher and staff distributions were not statistically different. Teacher and staff ratings had a “medium” correlation (r = .42; p = .01) and a classification consistency (88%) that exceeded chance by a “moderate” amount (κ = .43). Few, if any, studies have previously compared the ratings of the same children by teachers and OST providers. Cross-informant inter-rater reliability between teachers and OST staff was higher than expected on the DESSA.


Social emotional competence Out-of-school time After-school DESSA Cross-informant inter-rater reliability Assessment and outcome measures 



This project was supported by the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Community Benefit Program. The authors wish to acknowledge Jennette Claassen and all of the Playworks staff who participated in this project, and specifically the coaches, program managers, program associates, and program directors from the Silicon Valley and San Francisco offices. The authors also wish to thank Paul LeBuffe (Devereux Center for Resilient Children), Jack Naglieri & Chavaughn Brown (George Mason University), Jessica Adamson and Scott Marshall (Apperson Evo Social & Emotional), and Mechelle Timmons (CASO, Inc.) who were each generous and creative enablers of this work.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflicts of Interest

Two of the authors are employees of the Devereux Center for Resilient Children, the non-profit organization that developed the Devereux Student Strengths Assessment (DESSA). Although one author of this paper had a role in the development of the DESSA, no author receives any direct financial remuneration from the sale of the DESSA or any other tool or resource mentioned within this manuscript.

Ethical Approval

Data analyzed in this paper were collected for evaluation purposes at a non-profit agency and de-identified data were obtained by the university through a data-share agreement, using procedures in accordance with the ethical standards of the Committee for Protection of Human Subjects (CPHS) at the University of California, Berkeley.

Informed Consent

A consent waiver was granted by the Committee for the Protection of Human Subjects (CPHS) at the University of California, Berkeley.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Social WelfareUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA
  2. 2.Center for Prevention Research in Social WelfareUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA
  3. 3.Devereux Center for Resilient ChildrenVillanovaUSA

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