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Article  December 1, 2012

Latent Profiles of Problem Behavior within Learning, Peer, and Teacher Contexts: Identifying Subgroups of Children at Academic Risk across the Preschool Year



Bulotsky-Shearer, R. J.,  Bell E. R., and Domínguez X. (2012). Latent profiles of problem behavior within learning, peer, and teacher contexts: Identifying subgroups of children at academic risk across the preschool year. Journal of School Psychology 50(6) 775-798.


Employing a developmental and ecological model, the study identified initial levels and rates of change in academic skills for subgroups of preschool children exhibiting problem behavior within routine classroom situations. Six distinct latent profile types of emotional and behavioral adjustment were identified for a cohort of low-income children early in the preschool year (N=4417). Profile types provided a descriptive picture of patterns of classroom externalizing, internalizing, and situational adjustment problems common to subgroups of children early in the preschool year. The largest profile type included children who exhibited low problem behavior and were characterized as well-adjusted to the preschool classroom early in the year. The other profile types were characterized by distinct combinations of elevated internalizing, externalizing, and situational problem behavior. Multinomial logistic regression identified younger children and boys at increased risk for classification in problem types, relative to the well-adjusted type. Latent growth models indicated that children classified within the extremely socially and academically disengaged profile type, started and ended the year with the lowest academic skills, relative to all other types. Implications for future research, policy, and practice are discussed.

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