Publications: Education

  • Dix, K.L., Green, M.J., Tzoumakis, S., Dean, K., Harris, F., Carr, V.J., Laurens, K.R. (2018) The Survey of School Promotion of Emotional and Social Health (SSPESH): A brief measure of the implementation of whole-school mental health promotion. School Mental Health, doi: 10.1007/s12310-018-9280-5 (Published Online 28 June  2018).

This paper describes the development of a brief school-based instrument designed for use in research and in educational practice. The Survey of School Promotion of Emotional and Social Health (SSPESH) measures the extent to which a school has implemented policies and practices in four health-promoting domains: (a) creating a positive school community, (b) teaching social and emotional skills, (c) engaging the parent community, and (d) supporting students experiencing mental health difficulties. The questionnaire can be used to differentiate high, moderate, and low implementation of whole-school policies and practices that promote the emotional and social health of students. To develop the instrument, responses were gathered via an online survey of Principals in almost 600 Australian primary schools in New South Wales during 2015. The paper describes the preliminary psychometric properties of the instrument (reliability, validity), and the development of the implementation index using Latent Class Analysis methods. This brief 13-item survey can be used by researchers and evaluators for comparative and multivariate analyses. School leadership may find it useful as a brief tool to guide the identification of target areas for whole-school improvement across the four important health-promoting domains.

  • Harris, F.,* Smith, M.,* Laurens, K.R., Green, M.J., Tzoumakis, S., Kariuki, M., Carr, V.J. (2018). Validation of a two-factor model of the Best Start Kindergarten Assessment of literacy and numeracy. Australian Journal of Education, 62(1), 36-48, doi: 10.1177/0004944118761381. 

This study examined the structure of the Best Start Kindergarten Assessment (Best Start) of literacy and numeracy, in a general population sample of 37,734 children drawn from the NSW Child Development Study (NSW-CDS) cohort. Analyses conducted on the 11 Best Start scales supported a two-factor structure underpinning literacy and numeracy attainment. This two-factor measure of attainment at school entry is comparable in structure to standardised measures of literacy and numeracy administered in later school years, and may thus facilitate research examining pathways of academic performance over time.

  • Moore, E.A., Harris, F., Laurens, K.R., Green, M.J., Brinkman, S., Lenroot, R.K., Carr, V.J. (2014). Birth outcomes and academic achievement in childhood: A population record linkage study. Journal of Early Childhood Research, 12(3), 234–250.

This scientific report examined the association between early life risk factors and academic achievement at Kindergarten (approx. age 5) and in Grade 3 (approx. age 8). This was achieved by linking the NSW Midwives data collection with the Best Start Kindergarten Assessment. Increasing maternal age and lack of maternal prenatal smoking were associated with improved academic performance. The results suggest that programs that target children with less developed academic skills during the first year of school may improve subsequent results.