School Mental Health

, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 210–227 | Cite as

Identifying High School Freshmen with Signs of Emotional or Academic Risk: Screening Methods Appropriate for Students in Accelerated Courses

  • Shannon M. SuldoEmail author
  • Elizabeth D. Storey
  • Lindsey M. O’Brennan
  • Elizabeth Shaunessy-Dedrick
  • John M. Ferron
  • Robert F. Dedrick
  • Janise S. Parker
Original Paper


High school freshmen in accelerated courses have known risk and resiliency factors that should be considered within systematic efforts to monitor and promote student academic and emotional well-being. This study created and evaluated a multi-method approach to identify students in Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses with signs of risk mid-year in terms of stress, affective engagement, and academic performance. A total of 304 ninth grade students enrolled in AP/IB coursework and five AP/IB teachers at two public high schools in a southeastern state took part in the screening. Using the researcher-developed screening approach, a total of 117 students (38.5%) met criteria for risk in at least one academic or emotional area. These results were compared to those obtained using a teacher nomination form, which had been developed collaboratively by the teachers and researchers, that specified signs of emotional and academic risk. The teacher nomination procedure resulted in the identification of 39.3% of the at-risk student population (average sensitivity rate = 35.7% across teachers). Sensitivity of teacher nominations was higher when identifying academic risk (average = 59.9%) as compared to emotional risk (average = 27.9% and 39.6% of students with low school satisfaction and high stress, respectively). Findings support the collection of data from students (surveys of stress and school satisfaction) and school records (course grades) when identifying AP/IB students to consider for targeted services within a Multi-Tiered System of Supports.


Screening Teacher nominations High school Accelerated courses Gifted students 



The authors of this manuscript would like to acknowledge the assistance of the following members of their university research team: Camille Hanks, Amanda Moseley, and Kai Shum.


The research reported here was funded by the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, through Grant R305A150543 to the University of South Florida. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not represent the views of the Institute or the U.S. Department of Education.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Aside from support from the aforementioned research grant, each author declares that s/he has no additional conflict of interest.

Human Participants and/or Animals

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional committee and with the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments. This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shannon M. Suldo
    • 1
    Email author
  • Elizabeth D. Storey
    • 1
  • Lindsey M. O’Brennan
    • 1
  • Elizabeth Shaunessy-Dedrick
    • 2
  • John M. Ferron
    • 1
  • Robert F. Dedrick
    • 1
  • Janise S. Parker
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Educational and Psychological StudiesUniversity of South FloridaTampaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Teaching and LearningUniversity of South FloridaTampaUSA
  3. 3.William & MaryWilliamsburgUSA

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