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PRELIMINARY DEVELOPMENT OF THE TEACHER-REPORT ADHD IMPAIRMENT
KATHERINE ELIZABETH KIKER
A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF SCIENCE
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
2007 Katherine Elizabeth Kiker
I would like to thank my supervisory chair for his dedicated mentoring, the participants in
my study for their honest participation, and the Center for Pediatric Psychology and Family
Studies for their generous support.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
A CK N O W LED G M EN TS ................................................................. ........... ............. 3
LIST OF TABLES .................. .....................................................5
ABSTRAC T .......................................................................................
1 INTRODUCTION ............... ............................ ...............................7.
2 M E T H O D ..........................................................................15
S cale D ev elo p m en t ......................................................................................................15
P ro c e d u re s .............................................................................................16
P artic ip an ts .........................................................................17
Statistical Analyses ................................................................................19
M e a su re s ................... ...................2...................0..........
3 R E SU L T S .............. ... ................................................................23
In tern al C o n sisten cy ............................................................................................................... 2 3
T est-R test R eliab ility ............................................................... .................... ............... 2 4
Discriminative Validity for the Total Teacher-Report Impairment Rating Scale ...............24
Discriminative Validity for the Adaptive Functioning Subscale.............................. 25
Discriminative Validity for the Academic Functioning Subscale .......................................25
Discriminative Validity for the Social Functioning Subscale .................................... 25
C o n stru ct V alid ity ............................................................................................................. 2 5
4 D ISC U S SIO N ............................................................................... 3 1
L IST O F R EFE R EN C E S ............................................................................... 36
B IO G R A PH IC A L SK E T C H ................................................................................................... 39
LIST OF TABLES
2-1 Items from the Teacher-Report Impairment Rating Scale..............................................22
3-1 D em graphic D ata ..................................... .................. .......... .. ............. 27
3-2 Intercorrelations between T-IRS Subscales................................................................28
3-3 Comparison of T-IRS Mean Scale Scores between the ADHD and Non-ADHD
G groups ......... .. .............. ....... ..................... ............................. 29
3-4 Correlations between Symptom Severity Ratings as Indexed by the Conners' Parent
Rating Scale (CPRS) and T-IRS Measures of Impairment.............................................30
Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science
PRELIMINARY DEVELOPMENT OF THE TEACHER-REPORT ADHD IMPAIRMENT
Katherine Elizabeth Kiker
Chair: James H. Johnson
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, requires that a
child shows evidence of clinically significant impairment in social, academic, or occupational
functioning, in addition to ADHD symptomology, in order for a diagnosis of Attention-Deficit
Hyperactivity Disorder to be made. Additionally, impairment must be present across several
settings. The paucity of appropriate impairment measures led to the creation of The Child
Impairment Rating Scale, a parent-completed scale that measures ADHD-related impairment in
the domains of adaptive, academic, social, and home/family functioning. The present study
sought to evaluate the psychometric properties of the Teacher-Report Impairment Rating Scale
(T-IRS), the teacher version of the C-IRS that measures ADHD-related impairment in the school
setting in the domains of adaptive, academic, and social functioning. Preliminary results
supported the measure's internal consistency and discriminative validity. Further recruitment of
subjects is necessary to examine the scale's test-retest reliability and construct validity, and
bolster the generalizability of the findings.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV:
American Psychiatric Association, 1994), estimates the prevalence rate of Attention-
deficit/hyperactivity disorder to range from 3 to 5% in school age-children. Given the high
prevalence of ADHD, extensive time is dedicated to assessing and treating the disorder by health
care professionals, including family practitioners, pediatricians, psychiatrists, neurologists,
psychologists, and school psychologists
Health care professionals in the United States commonly use the guidelines presented in
DSM-IV in diagnosing the various subtypes of ADHD; the predominantly inattentive type, the
predominantly hyperactive/impulsive type and the combined type. The inattentive type of ADHD
is characterized by difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities, forgetfulness, losing
necessary things, making careless mistakes, difficulty organizing tasks and activities, being
easily distracted, not listening, and failing to finish schoolwork, chores, or work duties. The
hyperactive/impulsive type of ADHD is characterized by symptoms of hyperactivity (fidgeting,
inability to remain seated, restlessness, excessive talking, difficulty engaging in quiet activities,
and often being "on the go") as well as symptoms of impulsivity (blurting out answers, difficulty
awaiting turn, and often interrupting/intruding on others.) The combined type of ADHD is
characterized by symptoms of both inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity.
In order to establish a diagnosis of ADHD, the clinician must ensure that the child displays
developmentally inappropriate levels of inattention and/or hyperactivity/impulsivity that are
observed across situations, that the onset of symptoms was before 7 years of age, and that the
symptoms have occurred apart from other mental disorders such as Pervasive Developmental
Disorder, Schizophrenia, or Psychotic Disorder. To diagnose the predominately inattentive type
of ADHD, 6 or more symptoms of inattention must have been present for at least 6 months. For
the predominantly hyperactive/impulsive type of ADHD, 6 or more symptoms of
hyperactivity/impulsivity must have been present. Finally, for a diagnosis of the combined type
of ADHD, both 6 or more symptoms of inattentions and 6 or more symptoms of
hyperactivity/impulsivity must have been present for at least 6 months. It is also the case that
when an individual's symptoms do not meet the criteria for one of the subtypes of ADHD, and it
is unclear whether these criteria have previously been met, a diagnosis of Attention-
Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Not Otherwise Specified can be made.
The criteria for a diagnosis of ADHD also require that the child shows evidence of
clinically significant impairment in social, academic, or occupational functioning and that some
impairment is seen in two or more settings. It can be noted that the requirement that symptoms
and impairment be present across multiple situations is new to DSM-IV and serves to minimize
making inappropriate diagnoses in those situations where symptoms may be the result of
Although the assessment of ADHD symptoms and impairment is required for diagnosis,
more emphasis has generally been placed on the importance of obtaining information about
ADHD symptoms, rather than obtaining information about impairment. There are numerous
measures, such as the ADHD rating scale (DuPaul, 1991), Child Behavior Checklist (Achenbach,
1991), the Behavior Assessment System for Children (Reynolds and Kamphaus, 1992), and the
Revised Conners Parent and Teacher Rating Scales (Conners, 1997) that measure the frequency
and severity of ADHD symptoms in children and adolescents. There are also computerized
measures, such as the Conners Continuous Performance Test (CPT; Conners, 1994) to directly
assess attention problems.
There are also other methods used to measure ADHD symptoms. Structured and
semistructured interviews are often used for the diagnosis of ADHD within a research context.
These interviews can be used to diagnose multiple disorders and are recommended by experts for
the diagnosis of ADHD (Lahey & Wilcutt, 2002). Commonly used structured interviews include
the Diagnostic Interview for Children and Adolescents Revised (DICA-R; Reich & Welner,
1988) and the Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children Version IV (DISC-IV; Shaffer, Fisher,
& Lucas, 2000). Semistructured interviews used to diagnose ADHD include the Kiddie Schedule
for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia, Present and Lifetime Version (K-SADS-PL:
Kaufman et al., 1997) and the Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Assessment (CAPA; Angold &
Costella, 2000). Unlike the structured interviews, there is little published reliability data on
semistructured interviews for children with ADHD. Although these interviews may be effective
in diagnosing ADHD, they are lengthy measures that must be administered by trained clinicians
or researchers; thus, they may not have much utility in a clinical setting where a thorough,
efficient, and timely diagnosis of ADHD must be made.
Another method of gathering information about the ADHD symptomatology that children
exhibit is by using observational measures such as Classroom Observations of Conduct and
Attention Deficit Disorders (COCADD; Atkins, Pelham, & Licht, 1985), Classroom Behavior
Code (Abikoff et al., 1977), and Playroom Observations (Milich, Loney, & Landau, 1982).
These observational measures exhibit acceptable reliability and validity in both clinical settings
and natural settings. There is also evidence that these observational measures discriminate
between children with and without ADHD (Fabiano et al., 2004). Despite the usefulness of
observational measures in diagnosing ADHD, it is important to note that they are extremely
time-consuming and therefore not practical in a clinical setting.
The measures reviewed thus far have focused on the diagnosis of ADHD via ADHD
symptomatology. However, the DSM-IV requires that a child show evidence of clinically
significant impairment in social, academic, or occupational functioning and that some
impairment is seen in two or more settings in order to make a diagnosis of ADHD. Indeed, it has
been argued that more focus should be placed on the assessment of ADHD related impairment,
rather than ADHD symptoms, beyond the initial diagnostic phase. Children are generally
referred for diagnosis because of their impaired functioning in different domains, rather than
solely exhibiting ADHD symptoms (Pelham, 2004). ADHD core symptoms may improve with
age, but impairment and related difficulties tend to continue into adulthood. Adults diagnosed
with childhood ADHD have been found to have significantly fewer years of education, lower job
performance ratings from their employer, and more arrests than controls (Barkley, Fisher, &
Smallish, 2006). They also continue to exhibit poorer social skills and exhibit more antisocial
personality characteristics than controls (Manuzza & Klein, 2000).
In fact, the three areas of psychosocial impairment common in ADHD children family
functioning, peer relationships, and academic functioning- are predictive of negative long-term
outcome and are the target behaviors that must be modified in order to improve both current and
long-term functioning (Pelham, 2004).
Children with ADHD have been found to be impaired in multiple areas of functioning,
including social, academic, and adaptive functioning. Boys and girls with ADHD have been
found to be deficient in their social functioning (Gaub & Carlson, 1997). Relative to children
without ADHD, those diagnosed with this disorder are, as a group, less socially preferred, have
fewer friends, and are more often rejected by peers (Hoza, Mrug, & Gerdes, 2005). Peer rejection
for ADHD youths also tends to continue into adolescence (Bagwell et al., 2001). Compared to
other children in the classroom environment, children with ADHD are more off-task, complete
less assigned work, have lower levels of academic achievement, break classroom rules, and have
more problems with their teachers (Atkins et al., 1985). In addition, problems with attention may
lead to failure to progress academically over time.
Also, adaptive functioning skills, which refer to a child's ability to perform independent
behaviors and appropriate skills for daily activities, have been found to be much lower for
children with ADHD than control groups (Lahey et al., 1998). Indeed, children with ADHD
score lower in the areas of socialization, communication, and daily living in comparison with
children diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder or Mental Retardation. Children with
larger impairments in adaptive functioning appear to have a poorer prognosis for the disorder
(Stein, Szumowski, & Blondis, 1995).
Our review of research highlighting ADHD related impairment in the areas of academic,
adaptive, and social functioning points to the need for increased attention to the assessment and
treatment of impairment in individuals with ADHD. In the past, clinicians relied upon the
judgment of parents and teachers to determine levels of ADHD related impairment. However, a
more systematic and thorough assessment of children's every-day, functional abilities in the
home and school environments are needed (Gaub & Carlson, 1997).
Currently, there are several available measures that examine global/ overall impairment of
children, and a couple that measure impairment in specific domains of functioning. The Child
and Adolescent Functional Assessment Scale (CAFAS; Hodges, 1990) and Children's Global
Assessment of Functioning (CGAS; Bird et al., 1987) are clinician-administered measures that
examine global impairment due to emotional, behavioral, and psychiatric problems. The CAFAS
consists of 5 child scales: Role Performance, Thinking, Behavior Towards Self and Others,
Moods/Emotions, and Substance Use. For each scale, problems are rated on a four point Likert
scale where 0 corresponds to 'minimal or no disruption', and 3 corresponds to 'severe'. The
CGAS is a scale that asks raters to rate the child in question from 0-100 on a continuous scale of
impairment, where 100 corresponds to 'Superior functioning in all areas" and 0 corresponds to
"Needs 24-hour care." Both of these measures have been used with ADHD samples, but they
also measure impairment stemming from other psychological disorders.
Although global measures of impairment may be useful, measures of impairment that
report functioning in key domains (such as peer, family, and school) as well as globally have
more treatment utility than nonspecific global measures of impairment (Pelham et al., 2005). In
the past, researchers typically adapted impairment-related scales, which are constructed for other
purposes, when studying specific impairment in children with ADHD (Gaub and Carlson, 1997).
However, many impairment-related subscales tend to assess behaviors that define ADHD itself;
therefore, they should not be used as independent measures of impairment (Lahey et al., 1998).
There have been several recent advancements in the development of impairment rating
scales. Fabiano and Pelham's Impairment Rating Scale (IRS; 2002) asks teachers and parents to
rate the impact of a child's problems on a continuous scale across several areas of functioning
(relationships with peers, family and teachers; academic achievement; self-esteem) and to
produce a written description of the child's problems. The psychometric properties of the
Impairment Rating Scale were measured in 4 samples. Two included ADHD and matched
comparison children and the other 2 included a school sample. Preliminary evaluations of both
the parent and teacher scales (Fabiano & Pelham, 2002) supported the test-retest reliability of
these measures, their ability to discriminate between ADHD and non-ADHD groups, and their
correlations with other measures that assess the same construct using different methods of
measurement. Although the IRS has only 6-7 questions, depending on the version, the narrative
portion makes it more difficult to score. In addition, the IRS asks raters to rate children on an
overall domain of functioning, rather than individual items that make up a domain. Therefore the
IRS may be less desirable in settings where a brief, easy-to-administer, quantitative index of
impairment is preferred.
The paucity of impairment measures has recently led to the creation of an additional
measure, the parent version of the Child Impairment Rating Scale (C-IRS) by McAlister and
Johnson (2004), at the University of Florida. This scale was one of the first of its kind to provide
a brief and easy to complete measure of ADHD-related impairment in the home environment.
The C-IRS is a 32-item scale that measures impairment in 4 different domains: adaptive
functioning, social functioning, academic functioning, and functioning in the home and family
In the preliminary study, the C-IRS demonstrated good psychometric properties.
Cronbach's alpha for the entire scale equaled .94, and alpha levels for the Adaptive behavior,
Academic, Social, and Home/Family Functioning subscales were high (range = .74 .86). With
respect to reliability, item-level analyses revealed that the C-IRS items adequately discriminated
between children with low total scores and children with high total scores on this measure.
Results also demonstrated significant test-retest reliability over a 2-3 week interval for the
parents of children with ADHD. The test-retest reliability coefficient was .92 for the overall
total scale, .87 for the Adaptive Functioning subscale, .78 for the Academic Functioning
subscale, .90 for the Social Functioning subscale, and .81 for the Home/Family Functioning
subscale (allp < .01).
Despite the potential usefulness of this parent measure, it is also important to document
evidence of impairment in the school environment. Indeed, this is a requirement of the current
DSM-IV diagnostic criteria. As previously discussed, Fabiano & Pelham (2002) demonstrated
good psychometric properties for the teacher version of their Impairment Rating Scale.
Additionally, the Vanderbilt Rating Scale (Wolraich et al., 2003) is a teacher scale designed to
measure ADHD, Oppositional Defiant and Conduct Disorder, and Anxiety and Depression
symptoms, and has demonstrated good psychometric properties. However, the Vanderbilt Rating
Scale has 35 items, of which only 8 are related to ADHD impairment; 3 items related to
academic impairment and 5 items related to classroom behavior.
Therefore there is a need for an instrument that can quickly and efficiently measure
ADHD-related impairment in the school setting, as this is necessary for an accurate diagnosis of
ADHD. The present study represents an attempt to fill this clinical and research void by
developing a teacher-report child ADHD impairment scale (the T -IRS). This study examined
the scale's psychometric properties, including its internal consistency, test-retest reliability, and
discriminate validity. Given the assumption that severity of ADHD symptoms would relate to
degree of impairment, the study also examined whether impairment scores on the T-IRS were
correlated with symptom severity as measured by scales on the Conner's Parent Rating Scale
(The ADHD Index, DSM-IV Inattentive scale, DSM-IV Hyperactive-Impulsive scale, DSM-IV
Total scale). The development of a reliable and valid ADHD impairment measure to be
completed by teachers, such as the one described here, should assist clinicians in accurately
diagnosing ADHD, and assist in measuring treatment outcomes.
The teacher version of the Child Impairment Rating Scale was generated from the
previously constructed parent version on this measure (C-IRS: McAlister & Johnson, 2004). To
develop the parent version, a list of items related to impairment in the domains of adaptive
behavior, academic and school functioning, and social and family functioning was generated.
This was done by surveying available measures that relate to these individual domains, by
obtaining input from child clinical/pediatric psychologists regarding items that may reflect
domain related impairment, and by obtaining clinical data from parents of children with ADHD
regarding examples of characteristics that reflect impairment in these domains. After generating
an initial item pool, items were reviewed by child clinical and pediatric psychologists and
advanced graduate students in clinical child psychology in an attempt to minimize item overlap,
ambiguous item content, and to eliminate items that were not viewed as relevant to the specific
domains being assessed. Of the remaining items, the 8 most non-redundant and most
representative items for each subscale were retained, for a total of 32 items. Half of the items
were worded in a positive direction, and half the items were worded in a negative direction to
minimize the utilization of response sets.
The format of the scale asks the parent to determine how often their child experiences the
described circumstance on a continuum from 0-3; 0 being almost never and 3 being almost
always. The parent version of the Impairment Rating Scale (C-IRS) was administered to 38
parents of children with ADHD and 46 parents of children without the disorder. All of the
children were within the ages of 5 and 13 years old. Analyses indicated that the C-IRS
impairment indices reliably differentiated between children with and without ADHD. There was
also good test-retest reliability over a 2-3 week interval and evidence of adequate internal
The teacher version used the 8 items in each subscale designed to measure levels of
impairment in adaptive behavior and in school/academic and social functioning. The family
functioning subscale was excluded, as teachers are not expected to be able to adequately rate
children on family related items as they likely see the children only in the school environment.
Table 2-1 shows the items in the T-IRS.
Approval to conduct the study was first obtained from the IRB. Upon approval, parents of
children with ADHD were approached through the Psychology Clinic to determine their interest
in participating in the study. These parents were at the Psychology Clinic for previously
scheduled ADHD evaluations for their children based on referral to the clinic by physicians or
parents. Out of 24 parents of children with ADHD approached, a total of 3 parents declined to
participate. Fliers to recruit children without ADHD were posted at Shands Hospital and on
community bulletin boards; therefore a rate of non-interest could not be determined. Parents of
both groups of children (ADHD and non-ADHD) were asked to complete questionnaires with
regard to one of their children. In either group, if parent had more than one child that fit the study
criteria, they were asked to select one child on which to make responses. Parents and teachers in
both groups were informed of the confidentiality of their responses as well as their ability to
receive feedback about the results of the study upon its completion, if so desired.
Parents in the ADHD group were given an informed consent form, a demographic
information sheet, and a Child Impairment Rating Scale (the parent form). For the purposes of
this study, the informed consent incorporated permission from the parent to use data from their
child's clinical assessment, including the Conners Parent Rating Scale, as well as information
related to the diagnosis. It also asked the parents to grant permission to allow the child's teacher
to be contacted and asked to complete the Teacher-Report Impairment Rating Scale. The
demographic sheet asked parents for general information (such as name, address, phone
numbers, child's date of birth and gender, family income), the type of ADHD diagnosis (if
known), and whether the child had been formally diagnosed with any other psychological
condition. After the parents signed a consent form allowing the teacher to fill out the T-IRS, we
mailed a copy of the T-IRS to the school along with a postage-paid envelope, which teachers
completed, and then mailed back to us. After a 2-3 week interval, teachers were again mailed the
T-IRS for the test-retest phase of the study. We chose this time period for the test-retest phase
because it is thought that adequate time would have passed so that teachers would not remember
their previous answers, and that other factors would not have resulted in changes in the child's
level of impairment.
Parents in the normal comparison group were given an informed consent that explained the
nature of the study, issues of confidentiality, and which also asked permission to give the T-IRS
form to the child's teacher. These parents were also given a copy of the C-IRS and a
demographic information sheet to complete. Parents who expressed their willingness to
participate in the study were either sent materials directly in the mail or, if the parent was located
in close proximity to the hospital, a study investigator brought materials to that location in order
to have them completed. Teachers were mailed the T-IRS initially after the parents gave
permission, and again after 2-3 weeks for the test-retest phase of the study. Parents in this group
were also compensated 5 dollars for their participation.
A sample of 43 children was initially recruited. However, 5 teachers of children with
ADHD and 2 teachers of children without ADHD did not return the T-IRS; therefore these
subjects were excluded from all analyses. Therefore our final sample for all analyses consisted of
16 children with ADHD (mean age of 8.87) and 20 children without ADHD (mean age of 9.95).
All children were between the ages of 5 and 14. The ADHD sample consisted of 11 boys and 5
girls. Of these, 2 children were diagnosed with the Inattentive Type of ADHD, and 14 children
were diagnosed with the Combined Type of ADHD. The non-ADHD sample included 10 boys
and 10 girls. The mean income for the ADHD sample was $68,277 and the mean income for the
non-ADHD sample was $78,500. Table 3-1 shows demographic data.
Children with ADHD were recruited from the psychology clinic of the Department of
Clinical and Health during their scheduled appointments. Here, children were evaluated by a
licensed, board-certified Clinical Child Psychologist. Only those given a diagnosis of ADHD
were included in the present study. The evaluations consisted of a detailed diagnostic interview,
intellectual and achievement testing, parent and teacher-report measures to assess symptoms of
ADHD and possible comorbid conditions, computerized testing of attention problems, and other
testing as needed. Children without ADHD were recruited through fliers posted in Shands
Hospital and on community bulletin boards.
The children diagnosed with ADHD had one of three sub-types: predominantly inattentive
type, predominantly hyperactive/impulsive type or combined type. Exclusion criteria for children
in the ADHD group included the presence of Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Psychotic
Disorder, or diagnosed learning disability. Children with learning disabilities were excluded
because teachers may rate children with these disorders as having more impairment, reflective of
their learning disability, rather than ADHD. Exclusion criteria for the non-ADHD children
included a diagnosis of ADHD or parent report of any other clinical disorder. We attempted to
match closely for family income, age, & sex, and were successful, as no significant differences
emerged between groups on these variables. Parents were financially compensated $5 for
completing the study.
The first aim of this study was to document the internal consistency for the Teacher-Report
Impairment Rating Scale (T-IRS) and its subscales, in order to measure the extent to which
subscales and items within subscales correlate with each other. Item-total correlations and
Cronbach's alpha were calculated for the entire sample of participants. It was hypothesized that
the T-IRS would show adequate to good internal consistency, and that the item-total correlations
would be moderately high and that all of the items in the T-IRS, and the subdomains, would
show high homogeneity. The second aim sought to document the test-retest reliability for the T-
IRS over a 2-3 week interval, which was hypothesized to be high. A Pearson's product moment
correlation coefficient was calculated for T-IRS scores of children with ADHD.
The third aim sought to assess whether scores on the T-IRS discriminate between children
with and without ADHD. It was hypothesized that T-IRS scores would be significantly higher
for children with ADHD than children without ADHD, demonstrating its utility as a diagnostic
assessment instrument. For this aim, ANOVAs were run to examine the differences between
groups on scores on the entire T-IRS and each subscale.
The final aim was to document the relationship between indices of ADHD symptom
severity and the degree of rated impairment in the ADHD group. It was hypothesized that there
would be a significant positive correlation between indices of ADHD symptom severity and the
degree of rated impairment in the ADHD group. A Pearson's product moment correlation
coefficient was run, and symptom severity indices were obtained from scores on the Conner's
Rating Scales completed by the parent at the time of the child's initial ADHD evaluation. Scores
on the Conners' ADHD Index, the DSM-IV Inattentive subscale, the DSM-IV Hyperactive-
Impulsive subscale, and the DSM-IV Total subscale were used.
The Teacher-Report Impairment Rating Scale (T-IRS): The T-IRS and its respective
psychometrics are the focus of the current study. This 24-item teacher-report scale is divided into
3 subscales; adaptive functioning, academic functioning, and social functioning. Items included
in this measure are presented in Appendix A. The format for responding to this measure asks
teachers to determine how often the child experiences the described circumstance on a
continuum from 0-3; 0 being almost never and 3 being almost always.
The Child Impairment Rating Scale (C-IRS; McAlister & Johnson, 2004): This 32-
item self-report scale was the first of its kind to provide a brief and easy to complete measure of
ADHD-related impairment in the home environment. As was suggested earlier, preliminary
findings with the C-IRS demonstrated good psychometric properties, including adequate
discriminate validity between children with and without ADHD, good test-retest reliability over
a 2-3 week interval, and adequate internal consistency.
The Conners Parent Rating Scale Revised (CPRS-R; Conners, 1997): This measure
contains 80 items and assesses behaviors related to hyperactivity, impulsivity, attention
problems, conduct problems, cognitive problems, anxiety problems and social problems. The
directions request parents to consider the child's behavior during the past month, and responses
are given on a Likert scale, ranging from 0, not at all true, to 3, very true. The ADHD Index is
considered to be the most useful score for discriminating children with ADHD from a non-
clinical sample, and DSM-IV Symptoms subscales (DSM-IV Inattentive Scale; DSM-IV
Hyperactive-Impulsive Scale) correspond with the DSM-IV ADHD symptoms. Research has
provided considerable psychometric support for the CPRS-R, including excellent internal
consistency, high test-retest reliability, and good discriminative power between clinical and non-
clinical children (Conners et al., 1998).
Table 2-1: Items from the Teacher-Report Impairment Rating Scale
1. Needs close supervision
2. Shows appropriate levels of independent behavior
3. Adapts poorly to new situations
4. Shows inappropriate level of self-care
5. Is persistent in dealing with difficult tasks
6. Shows good common sense
7. Shows poor planning abilities
8. Shows appropriate concerns for safety
9. Is disorganized in dealing with academic tasks
10. Meets academic time demands
11. Fails to complete or turn in assigned homework
12. Requires discipline at school
13. Shows respect for school property
14. Has unexcused absences
15. Performs well on academic tasks
16. Has good relationships with teachers
17. Is ignored or rejected by peers
18. Shows respect for the feelings of others
19. Displays good social skills
20. Seems socially immature
21. Shows lack of respect for the property of peers
22. Has good relationships with peers
23. Has problems participating in groups/games
24. Relates poorly to adults
Intercorrelations between the three T-IRS subscales ranged from .60 to .87. Table 3-2
shows them. Corrected item-total correlations, which reflect how well items discriminate
between respondents with a low score and respondents with a high score, were calculated for the
total scale (containing 24 items) as well as for the three individual subscales (each consisting of 8
items). The mean corrected item-total correlation for the total Teacher-Report Impairment
Rating Scale was .71 (range = .50 .89). The item with the best discriminating ability for the full
scale was "Shows appropriate levels of independent behavior," while the item with the smallest
discriminating ability was "Has unexcused absences." Cronbach's coefficient alpha for the total
scale, calculated from 36 fully completed measures, was .96.
The mean corrected item-total correlation for the Adaptive Functioning subscale was .77
(range = .50 .90). The item with the highest ability to discriminate between respondents with a
high and low score was "Shows appropriate levels of independent behavior," while the item with
the lowest discriminating ability was "adapts poorly to new situations." Cronbach's coefficient
alpha was .93 for this subscale, calculated from 36 completed measures.
The mean corrected item-total correlation for the Academic Functioning subscale was .69
(range = .52 .86). The item "Performs well on academic tasks" had the best discriminating
power while the item "Has unexcused absences" demonstrated the poorest discriminating ability.
Analyses of 36 measures resulted in a coefficient alpha of .88.
The mean item-total correlation for the Social Functioning subscale was .79 (range = .57 -
.88). The item with the best discriminating power was "Displays good social skills" and the item
with the poorest discriminating power was "shows respect for the feelings of others". Analyses
of 36 measures resulted in a coefficient alpha of .94.
Due to a lower than expected return rate, only a small sample of six teachers of children
with ADHD returned a second copy of the T-IRS after an interval of 2-3 weeks. This small
sample size clearly does not allow a confident measurement of the test-retest reliability for the T-
IRS. However, these very preliminary findings do suggest good test-retest reliability for the
small sample. The test-retest reliability coefficient was .98 for the overall total scale, .87 for the
Adaptive Functioning subscale, .78 for the Academic Functioning subscale, and .95 for the
Social Functioning subscale (all p < .01). It is hypothesized that with continued recruitment, a
more accurate estimate of the scale's test-retest reliability will emerge.
Discriminative Validity for the Total Teacher-Report Impairment Rating Scale
The second aim of the study was to assess whether scores on the T-IRS discriminate
between children with and without ADHD. Here, t-tests were initially run to determine if there
were differences between the ADHD and non ADHD groups in terms of age, sex, or family
income. No significant differences emerged between children with and without ADHD on any of
these variables. An Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) was subsequently conducted to evaluate
whether scores from the total T-IRS differentiated between teachers' ratings of children with
ADHD and ratings of children without ADHD. There were significant differences between these
two groups, F(1,34) = 82.24,p < .001; teachers of children with ADHD (M= 27.20, SD = 7.65)
indicated higher levels of overall child impairment than teachers of children without ADHD (M
= 4.65, SD = 6.99). The effect size, measured using Cohen's d, was 1.68, and statistical power
was .99. Table 3-3 shows the contrasts between the ADHD and non-ADHD group.
Discriminative Validity for the Adaptive Functioning Subscale
An ANOVA was conducted to determine whether or not teachers of children with ADHD
and teachers of children without ADHD differed in terms of their scores on the Adaptive
Functioning subscale of the T-IRS. The ANOVA yielded significant results, F(1,34) = 102.87, p
< .001, Cohen's d= 1.73, power = .99. Teachers of children with ADHD (M= 10.60, SD = 2.95)
displayed significantly higher mean scores on adaptive impairment than teachers of children
without ADHD (M= 1.70, SD = 2.25).
Discriminative Validity for the Academic Functioning Subscale
An ANOVA was conducted to determine whether or not teachers of children with ADHD
and teachers of children without ADHD differed on scores on the Academic Functioning
subscale. The results were significant; F(1,34) = 54.77, p < .001, Cohen's d= 1.57, power = .99.
Teachers of children with ADHD (M = 8.93, SD = 3.33) had significantly higher scores than
teachers of children without ADHD (M= 1.60, SD = 2.54).
Discriminative Validity for the Social Functioning Subscale
An ANOVA was conducted to determine whether or not teachers of children with ADHD
and teachers of children without ADHD significantly differed on scores on the Social
Functioning subscale. The results were significant, F(1,34) = 25.66, p < .001, Cohen's d= .1.31,
power = .98. Teachers of children with ADHD (M= 7.67, SD = 4.71) had significantly higher
scores than teachers of children without ADHD (M= 1.35, SD = 2.60).
Pearson product-moment correlation coefficients were calculated in order to determine the
strength and direction of the relationship between scores on selected scales of the Conners'
Parent Rating Scale (The ADHD Index, DSM-IV Inattentive scale, DSM-IV Hyperactive-
Impulsive scale, and DSM-IV Total scale) and the T-IRS. Data from completed Conners' Parent
Rating Scales were available for 15 parents of children with ADHD. Scores on the Social
Functioning subscale positively correlated with scores on the DSM-IV Hyperactive-Impulsive
subscale (r=.57, p<.01); increased levels of hyperactive-impulsive symptomatology was
significant correlated with higher levels of impairment in social functioning. No significant
correlations were found between scores on the Conners' Parent Rating Scales and scores on the
adaptive and academic functioning subscales of the T-IRS. Table 3-4 shows the bivariate
correlation coefficients and their associated p-values.
Table 3-1: Demographic Data
n M SD
Table 3-2: Intercorrelations between T-IRS Subscales
Subscale Adaptive Academic Social
Adaptive .81** .87**
Table 3-3: Comparison of T-IRS Mean Scale Scores between the ADHD and Non-ADHD
Total 27.20 7.66
Adaptive 10.60 2.95
Academic 8.93 3.33
Social 7.67 4.72
***p <.001; **p < .01. Cohen's d
Effect size. (1-0)
Table 3-4: Correlations between Symptom Severity Ratings as Indexed by the Conners' Parent
Rating Scale (CPRS) and T-IRS Measures of Impairment
CPRS ADHD CPRS DSM-IV CPRS DSM-IV CPRS DSM-IV
T-IRS index inattentive hyperactive- total
Total -.24 -.30 .41 .04
Adaptive -.15 -.13 .44 .19
Academic -.34 -.41 -.24 -.46
Social -.05 -.13 .57* .27
N= 15. *p<.05.
For a child to be diagnosed with ADHD, the DSM-IV (1994) requires that the child display
developmentally inappropriate levels of inattention and/or hyperactivity/impulsivity that are
observed across situations. Diagnostic criteria also require that the child shows evidence of
clinically significant impairment in social, academic, or occupational functioning seen in two or
more settings. The addition of DSM-IV impairment criteria represents a significant improvement
over previous editions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Clinicians
have argued that following a diagnosis of ADHD, impairment (rather than symptoms) is more
predictive of negative long-term outcomes (Pelham, 2004).
Clinicians have previously relied on the verbal reports of parents and teachers to document
ADHD-related impairment. However, as noted by Gaub and Carlson (1997), a more systematic
and thorough assessment of children's every-day, functional abilities in the home and school
environments are needed. Although a few impairment measures exist, none of them fulfill the
need for an instrument that can quickly and efficiently measure ADHD-related impairment. A
previous study by McAlister & Johnson (2004) created the C-IRS, a 32 item parent-report scale
designed to measure the impact of inattention and hyperactive-impulsive symptoms on child
impairment in several key areas (adaptive functioning, academic functioning, social functioning,
and home/family functioning.) Analyses of the scale's psychometric properties supported the
measure's internal consistency, test-retest reliability, and discriminative and construct validity.
As it is a requirement of diagnosis that ADHD-related impairment be documented across
several settings, the present study attempted to develop and evaluate the psychometric properties
of the Teacher-Report Impairment Rating Scale (T-IRS). This 24-item scale, derived from the C-
IRS (McAlister & Johnson, 2004) contained 3 subscales to measure impairment; the adaptive
functioning subscale, academic functioning subscale, and social functioning subscale. The
home/family functioning subscale from the C-IRS was eliminated from the T-IRS as teachers do
not typically view children in the home setting.
Initial data collected thus far suggest that scores on each of the three subscales of the T-
IRS, as well at the entire scale, reliably differentiate between children with and without ADHD.
Cronbach's alpha for the entire scale equaled .96. Cronbach's alphas for the three subscales were
also high, ranging from .88 to .94. Also, item-level analyses indicated that individual items
within each subscale, and the entire scale, differentiated between children with high and low
scores on the T-IRS. Items with the highest discriminative ability were items thought to broadly
encompass each subdomain, such as "shows appropriate levels of independent behavior,"
"performs well on academic tasks," and "displays good social skills." In contrast, items with
lower discriminative ability were items measuring specific aspects of a domain of functioning,
such as "has unexcused absences," and "shows respect for the feelings of others." However, all
item-total correlations for the T-IRS exceeded .50. Because of our small sample size, further
recruitment of children with and without ADHD is necessary in order to increase support for our
Due to the difficulty of getting teachers to return the T-IRS, data from only 6 subjects were
included in the test-retest reliability analyses. Although this is not an adequate sample size to
provide support for the test-retest reliability of our measure, it is important to note that the
findings from this preliminary analyses suggest that with more subjects, the scale will likely
demonstrate good test-retest reliability. The test-retest reliability coefficient was .98 for the
overall total scale, .87 for the Adaptive Functioning subscale, .78 for the Academic Functioning
subscale, and .95 for the Social Functioning subscale (allp < .01).
In terms of discriminative validity, scores on the T-IRS indicate that the scale distinguishes
between children with and without ADHD. Mean scores for the entire scale, as well as each of
the three individual subscales, were substantially higher for children with ADHD (all p<.001).
Despite a small sample size, effect sizes for each analysis were very high, indicating that the
magnitude of differences of scores between children with and without ADHD was very high.
While is was expected that measures of ADHD symptom severity would correlate highly
with indices of impairment, findings in this area were limited in the present study. Significant
correlation was found between scores on the DSM-IV Hyperactive/Impulsive scale of the
Conners' Parent Rating Scale and scores on the social functioning subscale of the T-IRS. It
makes sense that children with hyperactive/impulsive symptomatology would display
impairment in the social functioning domain. No other significant correlations emerged between
scores on the T-IRS subscales and Conners' Parent Rating Scale. This lack of other significant
correlations may be attributable to the small sample size. Given the magnitude of several of the
correlations obtained, with further recruitment of subjects, we might expect to see more
significant correlations between symptom severity and degree of rated impairment.
Psychometric findings from the present study are in line with those found for the C-IRS,
the parent version of our measure. Both measures provided support for the scales' internal
consistency and discriminative validity. However, the C-IRS also found significant correlations
between indices of symptom severity resulting from inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive
symptomatology with both academic and social impairment. In addition, inattentive
symptomatology was significantly correlated with academic impairment.
As previously suggested, the primary limitation of the current study is the small sample
size used in determining reliability and validity estimates. Further recruitment is necessary to
strengthen and bolster the generalizability of our findings, especially for our analyses of test-
retest reliability. However, the present study did find significant effects for internal consistency
and discriminative validity, thus providing preliminary support for its usefulness in measuring
ADHD-related impairment in the school environment.
In addition to a small sample size, our study primarily included children with Combined
Type ADHD (n=14) and only a few children with Inattentive Type ADHD (n=2). Further
recruitment of children with Inattentive Type ADHD would allow us to examine differences in
impairment between children with Inattentive and children with Combined Type ADHD.
In conclusion, the present study provided good preliminary support for use of the T-IRS in
discriminating between children with and without ADHD in terms of measuring ADHD-related
impairment in the domains of adaptive functioning, academic functioning, and social
functioning. As such it highlights its potential to assist clinicians in accurately diagnosing ADHD
and measuring treatment outcomes. Limitations of previously constructed impairment measures
are that they measure global impairment, rather than specific ADHD-related impairment, and
they are lengthy and time consuming to complete. The T-IRS is a measure that has the potential
to quickly and efficiently measure ADHD-related impairment in the school setting.
Future directions for research with the T-IRS would include recruiting a much larger
sample in order to bolster the psychometric properties of the measure, developing preliminary
norms for the measure, and determining validated cutoff scores for the T-IRS in order to
determine mild, moderate, or severe levels of impairment. Examining the relationship between
parent-reported levels of impairment on the C-IRS and teacher-reported levels of impairment on
the T-IRS and conducting a factor analyses to pinpoint the specific dimensions of the T-IRS
would also be important. We expect that the T-IRS will prove useful as a clinical scale for
measuring ADHD-related impairment in the school setting. Therefore, with the use of both the
T-IRS and the parent measure, the C-IRS, more accurate diagnoses of ADHD can be made in the
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Katherine Elizabeth Kiker was born on September 23, 1983, in Charlotte, North Carolina.
An only child, she grew up mostly in Gainesville, Florida. After graduating from the
International Baccalaureate Program at Eastside High School in 2001, she earned both her
Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology, cum laude, and her Bachelor of Arts degree in
Spanish, cum laude, in December 2004. She is currently a second-year graduate student in the
Clinical Child and Pediatric Track of the Doctoral Program in Clinical and Health Psychology at
the University of Florida.