Measuring school engagement: a longitudinal evaluation of the School Liking and Avoidance Questionnaire from kindergarten through sixth grade
Few measurement tools provide reliable, valid data on both children's emotional and behavioral engagement in school. The School Liking and Avoidance Questionnaire (SLAQ) is one such self-report measure developed to evaluate a child's degree of engagement in the school setting as it is manifest in a child's school liking and school avoidance. This study evaluated the SLAQ's dimensionality, reliability, and validity. Data were gathered on children from kindergarten through 6th grade (n=396). Participants reported on their school liking and avoidance in the spring of each school year. Scores consistently represented two distinct, yet related subscales (i.e., school liking and school avoidance) that were reliable and stable over time. Validation analyses provided some corroboration of the construct validity of the SLAQ subscales, but evidence of predictive validity was inconsistent with the hypothesized relations (i.e., early report of school liking and school avoidance did not predict later achievement outcomes). In sum, the findings from this study provide some support for the dimensionality, reliability, and validity of the SLAQ and suggest that it can be used for the assessment of young children's behavioral and emotional engagement in school.