by Rina K. Ullmann, M.Ed., Esther K. Sleator, M.D., and Robert L. Sprague, Ph.D.
This brief checklist assesses one of the most prevalent childhood behavior problems: attention-deficit disorder, with or without hyper- activity. Because this disorder manifests itself primarily in the classroom, it is best evaluated by teacher ratings.
ACTeRS is composed of 24 items that cover four factors: Attention, Hyperactivity, Social Skills, and Oppositional Behavior. The teacher rates the child on each item, using a five-point scale, ranging from “Almost Never” to “Almost Always.” Item scores can be quickly totaled and profiled to obtain percentiles for the four scales. Standardization is based on approximately 2,400 children in kindergarten through eighth grade, and separate norms are provided for boys and girls.
The scale is highly useful in evaluating and monitoring children who can’t seem to pay attention in class. Because it is so quick and cost-effective, ACTeRS can be used to screen students or to confirm a suspected diagnosis of ADD or ADD-H. It has proven particularly useful in differentiating children with learning disorders from those with ADD-H.
For even greater diagnostic accuracy, you can supplement the teacher rating scale with the ACTeRS Parent Form and the ACTeRS Self-Report. These give you additional perspectives on the child’s behavior. The Parent Form provides scores for the same four subscales in the original ACTeRS, plus an additional scale focusing on early childhood behavior. Since this behavior is known to the parent but not the teacher, the Parent Form brings a new dimension to your assessment. The 35-item Self-Report provides scores for three scales–Attention, Hyperactivity/Impulsivity, and Social Adjustment.