Direct Behavior Rating Single Item Scale (DBR-SIS)

The method of Direct Behavior Rating (DBR) emerged in the literature as a hybrid of both rating scale and systematic direct observation (SDO) procedures (Chafouleas, Christ, & Riley-Tillman, 2009; Chafouleas, Riley-Tillman, & McDougal, 2002; Riley-Tillman, Chafouleas, Briesch, 2007). The researchers who conceptualized DBR as a method of assessment provide the following definition.

“DBR is an evaluative rating that is generated at the time and place that behavior occurs by those persons who are naturally occurring in the context of interest…DBR instrumentation and procedures combine the benefits of both behavior rating scales (e.g., efficient data recording) and SDO (e.g., data recording that occurs at the time and place of behavior)…the defining characteristics of DBR include the directness of observation, observation of specific behaviors, and the evaluative component of ratings” (Christ et al., 2009, p. 205).

The defining features of DBR are specified in the tool’s name.

  • Direct – ratings are recorded immediately at the end of an observation.
  • Behavior – specific behaviors are rated, such as Academic Engagement and Disruptive Behavior.
  • Rating – ratings are conducted repeatedly in a systematic and standardized manner similar to behavior rating scales.

How is a DBR completed (see DBR-SIS at the end of this brief)?

  1. Complete the top of the DBR form, specifying the student, date, and day of the week under consideration.
  2. Define the rating period (e.g., 9:00 – 9:45am) and activity (e.g. independent work) during which the observation will be conducted. The rater will evaluate behaviors observed within this time and context immediately following the rating period.
  3. Determine which behaviors are to be rated and review operational definitions. The “Standard DBR-SIS Form” includes Academic Engagement, Disruptive Behavior, and Respectful Behavior. Additional behaviors (e.g., tantrums) can be rated, but must be operationally defined and reviewed prior to observation.
  4. Rate the student’s behavior immediately following the observation period.

EBA Brief for Direct  Behavior Rating Single Item Scale (DBR-SIS)

DBR-SIS Standard Form

Quick Process Steps to Help Select The Right Intervention (Behavior)

2013-03-17 14:15:31

What follows are the steps to develop a hypothesis about what intervention is most likely to be effective.  The Bare Bones Problem Solving Forms was designed to be used with these steps. For a one page version of this webpage click here.

Step 1 – Define the problem (e.g. problem with engagement or disruptive behavior).

Step 2 – Select some form of assessment so that the behavior/s can me measured and monitored.  Examples include Office Discipline Referrals, Direct Behavior Rating, and Systematic Direct Observations.

Step 3a – Consider if the child can do the right behavior.  If yes, go to step 3b.  If no, select a behavior acquisition intervention.

Step 3b – Consider if the child is doing the problem behavior to get something (e.g. attention) or get out of something (e.g. avoid doing math or reading).  If the team believe it is generaly to get something, then select a that type of intervention, if the team believes it is to get out of something then select that type of intervention.

Step 4 – After the intervention is selected, decide which of the following steps are necessary.

  • Develop a step by step guide to help do the intervention
  • Customize the intervention to the teacher/student/environment
  • Have someone help the teacher by modeling the intervention

Step 5 – Try the intervention out for a week or two, and collect outcome data as described in step 2.

Step 6 – Look at the outcome data (ideally graphed) and decide what to do next.

  • If it is working great, consider how to keep the intervention going
  • If it is working a little bit, consider how to intensify the intervention
  • If it is not working, go back to step 3

Quick Tip – Keep it light and quick.  In the end, you only know if your educated guess as to the function of the behavior is correct when you try out the intervention an see if it work.  So, spend time trying out the intervention – not in the meeting!


Information about Workshops

2012-07-13 07:33:34

If your organization is interested in a workshop focusing on Evidence Based Interventions or associated topics contact Dr. Riley-Tillman at  Here are a sample of available workshops. Workshops are typically full day (5-6 hours) but can be customized to the needs of an organization.


What is an Evidence Based Intervention? Choosing and Implementing Academic and Behavior Interventions That Work.

While the term “evidence based intervention” or EBI for short is used throughout the educational literature, there has been limited discussion with teachers, administrators and parents about what EBI actually are.  In addition, where to find “the list” of EBI seems to be rather elusive to most educational professionals.  This workshop will review what EBI are across the tiers of educational service and specifically focus on Tier II and III interventions that can be used in the home or classroom.  In addition, the Evidence Based Network: will be incorporated in the workshop so that all participants take home a warehouse of intervention techniques to use in their daily practice.

As a result of this workshop participate will:

  • obtain a strong understanding of EBI.
  • learn the key issues when selecting an EBI for a specific case.
  • learn how to embed EBI in a schoolwide problem solving process (e.g. RTI).
  • have access to intervention resources to use after the the workshop.

The EBI Network and RTI Applications, Volume 1: Academic and Behavioral Interventions are related to this workshop.


Beyond CBM: Behavior Assessment Options for Measuring a Child’s Response to Intervention.

As school wide problem solving models such as Response to Intervention become more commonly implemented in school the need for a variety of formative assessment methods is quickly increasing.  It is typical to hear a teacher or administrator correctly comment, “Curriculum Based Measurement can’t use used for all topics”!  One area where there is a particular dearth in options is formative behavior assessment.  This is concerning in that behavior problems is one of the most commonly cited reasons for teacher frustration.  This workshop will outline the core features of problem solving assessment to outline the many options for collecting data in the schools to fuel an RTI model. This workshop will focus specifically to help participants to consider a range of behavior assessment options with a specific focus on the use of Direct Behavior Ratings (commonly known as Daily Behavior report Cards) for screening and progress monitoring purposes.  DBR are a flexible and feasible method of formative behavior assessment with an extensive supportive research based.  The workshop will focus on training participants to rate accurately using DBR, and how to use the method and outcome data in their daily practice to monitor a child response to behavioral interventions.

As a result of this workshop participates will:

  • obtain a strong understanding the core elements of problem solving assessment.
  • learn the key issues when selecting an assessment approach for a specific case.
  • learn about a variety of behavior assessment options with specific focus on Direct Behavior Rating.
  • have access to assessment resources to use after the workshop.

The Direct Behavior Rating website ( and School-Based Behavioral Assessment: Informing Intervention and Instruction are related to this workshop.


Evaluating Educational Interventions:  Using Single Case Design to Measure a Childs Response to Intervention

For Response to Intervention to work it is critical that educational professionals can truly document a child’s response to evidence based intervention.  While this standard is not typically outlined in books and workshops on RTI, the technology is readily available.  This workshop reviews methods of intervention scheduling, graphing and data analysis so that teacher, administrators and other educational professions can confidently make statements about how a child is responding to interventions.  At the end of the workshop participants will be prepared to consider intervention results and correctly interpret a child response, or lack of response.

As a result of this workshop participates will:

  • obtain a strong understanding the core elements of RTI as related to making decisions about a child’s response to intervention.
  • describe the relationship between evidence intervention, assessment and design/analysis in RTI.
  • learn the “nuts and bots” of applied single case design.
  • learn about graphing and visual analysis procedures which allow for the documentation of a child’s response to intervention.
  • describe how to make defensible decisions about a child’s response to intervention in a RTI model.
The EBI Network, Evaluating Educational Interventions: Single-Case Design for Measuring Response to Intervention and RTI Applications, Volume 2: Assessment, Design and Decision Making are related to this workshop.

Other Resources

2011-03-31 12:56:59


Intervention Assessment

  • Academic
  • Behavior
    • Chafouleas, S.M., Riley-Tillman, T.C., & Sugai, G. (2007). School-Based Behavioral Assessment: Informing Intervention and Instruction. New York, NY: Guilford Press.
    • Direct Behavior Rating Website:

Intervention Analysis

  • Books
    • Riley-Tillman, T.C. & Burns, M.K. (2009). Evaluating Educational Interventions: Single-Case Design for Measuring Response to Intervention. New York, NY, Guilford Press.
    • Riley-Tillman, T.C., Burns, M.K., & Gibbons, K. (2013). RTI Applications, Volume 2: Assessment, Analysis, and Decision Making. New York, NY, Guilford Press.

Project Contributors

2011-03-30 09:31:08

Riley-Tillman-Chris_1Dr. Riley-Tillman is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Educational School and Counseling Psychology at the University of Missouri. He is one of the co-developers of Direct Behavior Ratings as well as a recognized authority in evidence-based practice in schools and the application of experimental design and analysis in applied educational settings. Related to these interests, Dr. Riley-Tillman has participated in leadership roles on seven federal grants and is a Senior Advisor for the National Center on Intensive Intervention. He is also the creator and lead developer of the Evidence Based Intervention Network, a nonprofit website which contains evidence-based intervention and assessment resources for educational professionals developed by researchers. In 2016 the EBI Network had over 400,000 page views by over 59,500 unique users. He has published over 80 journal articles and 6 books on social behavior assessment, school wide service delivery, and single case design. In addition, he is the Acting Editor of the Practical Interventions in Schools book series for Guilford Press. Finally, he is a Fellow of Division 16 of the American Psychological Association and a member of the Society for the Study of School Psychology.

martinezRebecca S. Martinez, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the School Psychology Program at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. A native Spanish speaker, she was raised in Mexico City, Mexico, where she attended elementary school through the third grade. She has taught bilingual fourth grade, third grade, first grade and prekindergarten in the US and has lifetime Texas teaching licenses in bilingual education and early childhood education. Rebecca joined the School Psychology faculty at Indiana University in 2003 and earned tenure in 2009.

lembke photo2, december 2011Dr. Erica Lembke is an associate professor in the Department of Special Education at the University of Missouri, a trainer for the National Center on Response to Intervention, and president-elect for the national board of the Division for Learning Disabilities. Dr. Lembke has numerous publications in peer-reviewed outlets on the topics of Curriculum-Based Measurement and Response to Intervention, including a recently co-authored book on Tier 2 Interventions. She has presented over 150 national/international and state presentations on these topics. Her research interests include designing and implementing Curriculum-Based Measures in elementary and secondary grades and developing strategies to improve elementary students’ academic performance. She has served as Co-PI on a federally funded Goal 5 IES grant, as well as garnering several smaller subcontracts and institutional grants. Prior to her graduate work, including receiving her PhD from the University of Minnesota, Erica was an elementary special education teacher, working with students with learning disabilities and mild mental retardation. Dr. Lembke has served as a researcher, teacher, consultant, and faculty member for 20 years in the area of special education.

Matt-Burns-2017-web.jpgDr. Matthew K. Burns is the Associate Dean for Research for the College of Education and a Professor of School Psychology at the University of Missouri. He is a prolific researcher (e.g., published over 175 articles and book chapters and 12 books), but is dedicated to positively influencing practice in K-12 schools and mentoring the next generation of thought leaders in education. As one of the leading researchers regarding the use of assessment data to determine individual or small-group interventions, Dr. Burns works closely with schools to study and implement response-to-intervention models, intensive reading and math interventions, school-based teams, and generally supporting students with and without disabilities who needs are not being met. He is the immediate Past Editor of School Psychology Review and Past Editor of Assessment for Effective Intervention. Dr. Burns was also a practicing school psychologist and special education administrator before becoming an academic, and served on the faculty of the University of Minnesota for 10 years and Central Michigan University for 5 years.

Powell_Sarah_2013_220Dr. Sarah R. Powell is a graduate of the Department of Special Education at Vanderbilt University. Sarah is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Texas. Sarah’s research interests focus on developing and testing interventions for elementary students with mathematics difficulties. Sarah is especially interested in the role of symbols in understanding mathematics and how to use schema to solve word problems. Sarah teaches courses on mathematics instruction in elementary settings, introduction to special education, and teaching students with disabilities. Sarah has also conducted work in the areas of peer learning, progress monitoring, and multi-tiered instruction.

E.M.Hughes_PictureDr. Elizabeth M. Hughes is an Assistant Professor of Special Education at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. She graduated from Clemson University with her doctoral degree in curriculum and instruction with a focus in special education. Her research interests focus on academic interventions for students with disabilities, including Tier 2 and Tier 3 mathematics interventions. Current research looks at video-modeling and the concrete-representational-abstract sequence to teach mathematical concepts to students with autism. She teaches courses on mathematics accommodations and adaptations for elementary and middle school students, systematic observation and assessments, and Response to Intervention and Instruction.

Stephen-Kilgus-2017-web.jpgStephen Kilgus, Ph.D. is currently an Associate Professor in the School Psychology Program within the College of Education at the University of Missouri. Dr. Kilgus received his Ph.D. in School Psychology from the University of Connecticut in 2011. He completed his pre-doctoral internship within the Home and School Consultation division of the May Institute, Inc., located in Randolph, MA. Dr. Kilgus’s primary research interests include the development and validation of emotional and behavior assessment tools and procedures. He is particularly interested in assessment treatment utility, or the effect of assessment on intervention outcomes. An additional research interest includes the evaluation of Tier 2 targeted emotional and behavior interventions. Dr. Kilgus currently serves as an editorial board member for four peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of School Psychology, School Psychology Review, School Psychology Quarterly, and Assessment for Effective Intervention.

stormont_melissaDr. Melissa Stormont is a professor in special education at MU. Dr. Stormont has published extensive research related to the educational and social needs of young children vulnerable for failure in school, ADHD, and children who are homeless. She has focused the majority of her research efforts on contributing factors to early behavior problems in young children. Dr. Stormont has published more than 65 articles and book chapters related to the needs of children at-risk for failure. She has also written four books on young learners who are at risk for failure. Dr. Stormont is on the editorial boards of Psychology in the Schools, Behavior Disorders, Intervention in School and Clinic, School Psychology Quarterly, and the Journal of Applied School Psychology. She has an extensive record of work within both the fields of special education and school psychology. She has published 75 articles, book chapters and books. Dr. Stormont is a Co-PI with Dr. Reinke on a 2.9 million dollar efficacy trial to evaluate a teacher training program funded by IES.

Dr. Maggin’s is a faculty member at the University of Illinois Chicago. His research addresses three areas related to the education of students with and at risk for developing emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD) including (a) the identification of evidence-based practices through the use of various research synthesis methods, (b) the training of school personnel to use a continuum of effective assessment and intervention methods to identify and treat students with varying behavioral profiles, and (c) the development of school-based methods to ensure that effective interventions are implemented with integrity.

Special Thanks to the Original Students who Developed the Project

East Carolina University: Holly Beamon, Jacqueline Carrigg, Brynn Grech, Summer Ricketts, Anastasia Scheemaker, Kathryn Weegar

Student Contributors Over the Years

University of Missouri: Amanda Allen, Shianne Bisig, Dan Cohen, Lauren Henry, Sarah Owens, Alex Smith, Wes Sims, Crystal Taylor

Duquesne University: Alisa Baroffio, Nicole Bobrzynski, Katelyn Emigh, Lucia Gugliotta-Kremer, Ciarra Lewis, Michelle Mannella and Emily Zeh

East Carolina University: Jessica Amon, Amanda Bostian, Ashley Bouknight Wingard, Shannon Brooks, Megan Fox, Julie Harris, Lindsey Long, Katie McDuffy, Leigh McCulloch, Jessica Nimocks, Ashley Noble, Albee Ongsuco, Kate Pearson, Sarah Raab, Kelly Reigle, Shomara Reyes, Amanda Strickland, Jessica Tomasula, Hillary Tunstall

Indiana University: Ellen Anderson, Avital Deskalo, Susie Galford, Kristen Gerpe, Courtney Lemons, Maryellen McClain, Ashley Schwartz, Kelly Spegel, Megan Trachok, Ashley Visner, Natasha Williams, Megan Balensiefer, Craig Barnhart, Adrienne Cox, Luke Erichsen, Becky McKinney, Michelle Jochim, Sarah Sparks, Mindy Whalen, Stacy White


We would like to thank several individuals for their inspiration and feedback in the development of this project. Specifically, Chris would like to thank Brian Martens, Tanya Eckert, Vernon Hall and Jim Wright for training and mentorship that lead to this project. We would like to thank Matt Burns and Rachel Brown-Chidsey for their work in modeling interventions via YouTube. Finally, we would like to thank Erin Riley-Tillman, Michael Brown, Sandra Chafouleas, Scott Methe and Christy Walcott for website feedback.