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Student Risk Screening Scale

Description of Measure:

The Student Risk Screening Scale (SRSS) is a universal screening tool used three times a year to determine the number of students who are at risk for challenging behaviors and for the direct purpose for better understanding of how to support students to be academically successful in school. This screening tool consists of seven items that teachers use to rate their classroom of students based on the teacher's current knowledge with clear evidence of each individual student's behavior.

The SRSS is not intended as an assessment of static traits or personality, and it is not used to determine eligiblity or acess to programs such as special education.  It should be used as one of many data sources to inform instruction and to indicate student risk.

The SRSS-Externalizing 7 (SRSS-E7) and the SRSS-Interalizing 5 (SRSS-I5) consists of seven and five items that teachers use to rate their classroom students based on the teacher's current knowledge with clear evidence of each individual student's behavior.

Student Risk Screening Scale (SRSS)

SRSS-Externalizing 7 (SRSS-E7)

SRSS-Internalizing 5 (SRSS-I5)


Emotionally flat

Lie, cheat, sneak

Shy; withdrawn

Behavior problems

Sad; depressed

Peer rejection


Low academic achievement


Negative attitude

Aggressive behavior

If you add, delete, or modify SRSS items, then this screening tool becomes invalid.

Benefits of collecting and using the SRSS:

  • Schools using the SRSS, or another screening measure like it, are able to systematically and comprehensively examine schoolwide student behavioral needs to ensure that students can be adequately supported for academic success
  • Free
  • Efficient (takes only 10-20 minutes for a teacher to screen an entire classroom)
  • SRSS-E7 is research validated for Kindergarten through 12th grade
  • SRSS-I5 is research validated for Kindergarten through 6th grade

Measurement Tool:

SRSS-IE Excel Tool Ci3T
SRSS-IE Excel Tool with Graphing


When the data are gathered:

The SRSS is conducted three times a year:

  • Fall (October) - after the teacher has had about 4-6 weeks of observations with his/her students. 
  • Winter (December) - 2-3 weeks right before Winter Break, and 
  • Spring (April/May) - 6-8 weeks before the end of the school year

Estimated time involved for data collection:

10-20 minutes for a teacher to screen an entire classroom of about 25 students

How to collect and submit data:

The SRSS can be completed during a regularly scheduled staff meeting, where teachers can be trained on the SRSS and ask any questions. Completing the SRSS in a staff meeting could also ensure procedural fidelity.  It is important for each teacher to individually complete the SRSS for their own students.  Each successive screening during the school year (Winter and Spring) should be completed independent of students' previous screening results. This means that teachers should not view students' previous screening results immediately before or during the completion of current ratings. SRSS data should be analyzed by the school's leadership team, behavior team, and grade / department level teams to examine the impact of PBIS implementation and initially identify students who may need additional supports to be successful in school.  

Prior to collecting SRSS data, staff and parents should be informed about the SRSS and how the data are used to inform instruction. Districts should follow their policy on how parents are informed regarding the administration and use of universal screeners.   

How to analyze the results of the SRSS:

SRSS data from the Fall can be used to identify students who are in need of Tier 2 and Tier 3 supports.  SRSS data from the Winter assists staff with problem-solving on how well students are responding to Tier 2 and Tier 3 supports and to make any changes to supports when students return from Winter Break.  Spring SRSS data is used to determine how well students progressed throughout the year and to plan for the next school year.  

Each student should receive a total score between 0 and 21 on the SRSS-E7 and a total score between 0 and 15 on the SRSS-I5. It is only appropriate to interpret students' total score on the SRSS, not scores on individual items. 

Students are placed into 1 of 3 risk categories based on their total score for externalzing and a total score for interalizing: 

  • SRSS-E7
    • 0-3    Low Risk
    • 4-8    Moderate Risk
    • 9-21  High Risk
  • SRSS-I5
    • 0-1    Low Risk
    • 2-3    Moderate Risk
    • 4-15  High Risk

How the SRSS results support School Improvement:

SRSS Overview Voice Over PPT

SRSS Overview PPT

Research supporting the SRSS:

Kalberg, J.R, Lane, K.L., & Menzies, H.M. (2010). Using systematic screening procedures to identify students who are nonresponsive to primary prevention efforts: Integrating academic and behavioral measures.  Education and Treatment of Children, 33, 561-584.

Lane, K. L., Kalberg, J.R., Parks, R.J., & Carter, E.W. (2008). Student risk screening scale: Initial evidence for score reliability and validity at the high school level. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 16, 178-190.

Lane, K. L, Little, M. A., Casey, A. M, Lambert, W., Wehby, J., Weisenbach, J. L., & Phillips, A. (2009). A comparison of systematic screening tools for emotional and behavioral disorders. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 17, 93-105.

Lane, K. L., Parks, R. J., Kalber, J. R., & Carter, E. W. (2007). Systematic screening at the middle school level: Score reliability and validity of the student risk screening scale.  Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 15, 209-222.


Frequently Asked Questions:

Q. Can we modify the SRSS (add items, change wording, delete items)?

A. No. Any modification to the SRSS will invalidate the supporting research. The 0-3 likert scale must also be used. The SRSS must be used exactly as provided.

Q. Why do the screening items lack operational definitions? Wouldn't operational definitions help improve screening accuracy and consistency?

A. Past attempts to add operational definitions have resulted in destruction of the technical adequacy of the SRSS. Therefore, additional descriptions of each item should NOT be provided. Similarly, staff should not work to develop consensus on how to interpret each of the items before screening.

Q. Does the SRSS measure internalizing behavior?

A. For elementary schools, the SRSS-IE includes 7 items that measure externalizing behavior and additional 5 items that measure internalizing behavior.  Dr. Kathleen Lane and colleagues are currently conducting research on internalzing items for secondary schools. 

Q. Why would a school implementing Positive Behavior Support use a measure like the SRSS that focuses so heavily on negative student behaviors?

A. The SRSS is a research-validated tool that measures student risk. Risk has historically been measured by examining the presence of problem behaviors. While protective factors are also important, the presence of protective factors does not necessarily indicate the absence of risk factors. Presently, the SRSS is the only tool in its class that is both free and can be conducted efficiently, meaning that schools can use a reliable, valid measure, and do so quickly, taking less time away from instruction and student learning.

Q. How can SRSS and SWIS data be used together?

A. SRSS and SWIS data are compatible, but provide slightly different types of information. The SRSS is a universal screening tool.  All students are screened using the SRSS.  This happens early in the year, which may allow students to be flagged for additional support sooner than waiting for problem behavior to escalate to the point of one or more discipline referrals and exclusion from instruction.  SWIS is a progress monitoring and problem-solving tool.  SWIS will only capture students whose level of problem behavior has warranted a major or minor discipline referral. Both can be used to measure overall levels of externalizing problem behavior in a school. 

Q. Can we conduct the SRSS at the same time as our universal screening?

A. The SRSS should be conducted 6-8 weeks after the start of the school year, in December, and May.  The delayed fall screening is intentional so that teachers have an opportunity to get to know students and observe patterns of student behavior before conducting universal screening.  Conducting winter screening in December rather than January will allow staff to plan supports for students that can be implemented right after the winter break.  As academic data are collected later in January, that information should be considered alongside the SRSS results. 

Q. Our school does not yet have tier 2 and 3 systems and practices firmly established. Should we wait to use the SRSS for screening until tier 2 and 3 support systems are fully implemented so that students identified as at risk can be immediately matched to interventions?

A. While a team should have plan in place for how the screening data will be used, a fully developed secondary and tertiary support system does not necessarily have to be in place before universal screening can occur. Using the SRSS to collect screening data on all students will help a team know where to best direct their efforts. Most schools will have at least some evidence-based intervention opportunities available to students. Teams can start by strengthening what they are already doing. Then, as the data show it is needed and as the school and district develop capacity to implement additional supports with fidelity, additional supports can be layered. 

Note: As current research and materials are released regarding the understanding and use of the Student Risk Screening Scale, this page will be updated.

For additional questions and support, please contact:

Jennifer Rollenhagen
MiBLSi Measurement and Evaluation Specialist