Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Psychological and Social Foundations

Major Professor

Shannon Suldo, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Linda Raffaele Mendez, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Natalie Romer, Ph.D.

Committee Member

John Ferron, Ph.D.


Advanced Placement, International Baccaleaureate, School-based mental health, Teacher Nomination, Universal Screening


As part of a comprehensive, multi-tiered system of support for students’ emotional, academic, and behavioral success, effective universal screenings are essential to identify students who may benefit from early intervention and targeted prevention services (Strein, Kuhn-McKearin, & Finney, 2014). Although many screening procedures and methods have been developed and evaluated for general education populations, more research is needed on screening procedures designed for one traditionally underserved population in school-based mental health services—students in accelerated curricula (namely, students in Advanced Placement classes or in the International Baccalaureate program; AP/IB). When teachers are involved in universal screening procedures, regardless of student population served, training strategies to improve teacher accuracy in identifying students at-risk have resulted in gains in teacher knowledge of mental health disorders, but not improvements in accuracy (Deacon, 2015; Moor et al., 2007; Veira et al., 2014). This study examined prevalence of academic and emotional risk among 352 9th grade AP/IB students (enrolled in AP Human Geography or IB Inquiry Skills) in seven schools. Within a subgroup of 245 students (from five schools) who also participated in a teacher nomination procedure, this study also examined the accuracy of teachers (N = 6) in identifying the students who demonstrate signs of risk academically (defined by low grade in class or overall GPA) or emotionally (defined by high levels of perceived stress and low school satisfaction). Almost one in four students (24.17%) were designated as at-risk academically for either low course grades or GPA, and almost one in three students in the sample (28.88%) met at-risk criteria for emotional risk for either low school satisfaction or high perceived stress. In terms of teacher accuracy, teachers were found to have a high sensitivity and specificity identifying students with academic risk (90% sensitivity and 90.32% specificity across all 6 teachers). Mirroring previous research, teacher accuracy identifying students at-risk emotionally was lower (42.42% sensitivity and 76.14% specificity across all 6 teachers). The study also explored patterns in at-risk students missed by teachers, based on student characteristics such as gender, race, socio-economic status, risk severity, and risk type. Due to a low sample size of teachers, analyses were unable to detect differences in the rate of students missed across different student variables. Finally, the study advanced and evaluated the effects of a brief teacher training and feedback intervention intended to increase accuracy in identifying students at-risk. Low sample sizes again precluded identification of meaningful statistical differences. Although statistical findings were limited, quantitative and qualitative acceptability measures indicated high participant acceptability and feasibility for the new intervention. Conclusions from the study may be used within a population-based framework of student mental health services, to best inform early identification methods of students in accelerated curricula at-risk for diminished academic and emotional success, and working with teachers in screening efforts. Further, future research points to continued need to evaluate the brief teacher intervention with larger sample sizes to evaluate any possible intervention effects.