School misbehavior

Scale: Patterns of Adaptive Learning Scales (PALS) – Disruptive Behavior subscale

What it measures:

  • Students’ engagement in behaviors that disrupt or disturb the classroom.

Intended age range: 12- to 18-year-olds; may be appropriate for use with older elementary school students as well.

Brief description: This measure consists of 5 items. Sample items include “I sometimes annoy my teacher during class,” “I sometimes don’t follow my teacher’s directions during class,” and “I sometimes disturb the lesson that is going on in class.” Each item is rated on a 5-point scale ranging from Not at all true  to Very true.

Rationale: This scale was selected based on its brevity, ease of administration, appropriateness for use with school-aged youth, and promising evidence of reliability and validity.

Cautions: This measure is not intended to assess the presence or absence of school-related bullying, aggression, or violence. Care should be taken not to interpret the resulting scores as referring to specific disciplinary infractions; rather, the scores reflect behaviors that disrupt or disturb the classroom and may be associated with other behaviors.

Special administration information: None.

How to score: Each item is scored from 1 (Not at all true) to 5 (Very true). A total score is computed by averaging across all items.

How to interpret findings: Higher scores reflect greater levels of self-reported disruptive behavior.

Access and permissions: This scale is available for non-commercial use with no charge and can be obtained here (scale items appear on p. 26 and an example of how to format the items with the response choices can be found on p. 40).

Alternatives: The Disruptive Behavior Scale Professed by Students (DBS-PS) is a 16-item self-report scale that measures transgression of school rules, aggression toward other students, and aggression toward school authorities. This measure may be a good alternative for programs interested in a more comprehensive array of problematic behaviors in the school context. The measure and its documentation can be found here.

Citation: Midgley, C., Maehr, M. L., Hruda, L. Z., Anderman, E., Anderman, L., Freeman, K. E., … & Urdan, T. (2000). Manual for the Patterns of Adaptive Learning scales. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan. Retrieved from

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