Neag School Faculty Member Launches Online Behavioral Assessment Tool

For teachers, administrators, and school psychologists, finding an easy, efficient way to track student conduct during the school day has long posed a challenge. Thanks to a new online behavioral assessment tool developed by Sandra Chafouleas, professor in the department of educational psychology and associate dean for research in the Neag School, and T. Chris Riley-Tillman, a professor at the University of Missouri, educators and school personnel can now quickly and efficiently monitor behaviors key to school success – with virtually no paperwork.DBR

Launched after more than a decade of research, this innovative behavioral assessment tool – called DBR Connect – “can be used to screen at-risk students and monitor their behavior before, during, and after an intervention is implemented,” says Chafouleas. “It is one of few behavior rating systems that allows users to enter data online and easily chart students’ progress over time.” DBR stands for Direct Behavior Rating.

Chafouleas and Riley-Tillman, who both started their careers as school psychologists, created the system to help school personnel easily monitor students using three research-based, broad behavioral constructs – academically engaged, disruptive, and respectful. Designed to rate behavior over a specific period of time (for instance, over the course of a 45-minute class), DBR Connect can be used by any school staff member as part of ongoing progress monitoring or on an as-needed basis. Each student assessment can be completed in under one minute.

“[DBR Connect] is one of few behavior rating systems that allows users to enter data online and easily chart students’ progress over time.”

– Sandra Chafouleas, co-developer of DBR Connect


Formerly classmates in graduate school at Syracuse University during the 1990s, Chafouleas and Riley-Tillman had worked in the Syracuse City school district. At the time, Chafouleas says, efficient behavior assessment tools were limited in helping to “identify a student in need and then evaluate whether that student was responding to the behavior support plans that were developed.”

“We had comprehensive behavior rating scales – but those could not be administered repeatedly to tell us quickly if a strategy was working,” she says. “Observations are very time-consuming – and, inevitably, as a school psychologist, you would be observing at a time when the problem behavior did not occur.”

Riley-Tillman sees the importance of DBR Connect given the lack of evidence-based assessments for monitoring progress for behavior interventions. “This leaves tens of thousands of teachers out there doing interventions with children in need and not being able to really see if they are effective,” he says. “This tool solves that issue.”

Through DBR Connect’s intuitive online assessment interface, educators and practitioners can screen for problem behaviors and monitor the effectiveness of interventions in just a few clicks, helping educators easily identify at-risk students and track their progress over time. The tool can be customized to include additional behaviors, which can be tailored to the needs of the students or the classroom context. Users are able to view ratings by student, by classroom, or by the school as a whole; results are immediately available through charts and reports.

Chafouleas and Riley-Tillman consulted with Professor Steven Demurjian of UConn’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering to make the initial prototype of the online system. The tool is now published by PAR, a publisher of psychological assessment materials.

DBR Connect is designed for students in kindergarten through eighth grades. Teachers of students in grades 9 through 12 can still use DBR Connect as a screening and progress-monitoring tool; however, research-based risk-level scores for screening are not yet available for high school students.

“This is valuable tool,” says R. Bob Smith III, PAR chairman and CEO. “It can be implemented easily in a classroom setting and doesn’t burden teachers with long, time-consuming forms.”

Learn more in this video about DBR Connect.