Predictors of Informant Discrepancies Between Mother and Middle School Teacher ADHD Ratings

School Ment Health. 2016 Dec;8(4):452-460. doi: 10.1007/s12310-016-9192-1. Epub 2016 May 4.


A diagnosis of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, 5th Eldition (DSM-5) is assessed in youth using ratings from both a parent and a teacher. However, individual and contextual differences between informants may lead to discrepancies in these ratings. The purpose of this study was to examine predictors of discrepancies between mother and middle school teacher reports of ADHD symptoms and related impairment. In an ethnically diverse sample of middle school students with well-diagnosed DSM-IV-TR ADHD (N = 112), we examined a range of mother and school setting characteristics that may contribute to informant discrepancies in this population. Hierarchical multiple regression analyses suggested that mothers with higher levels of education and psychopathology (i.e., ADHD symptom severity, parenting stress) may be most likely to report adolescent ADHD symptom severity that is higher than reported by teachers. Reports from general education teachers (vs. special education) were associated with lower symptom severity compared to mothers. Finally, a documented diagnosis of ADHD in the school was predictive of more severe reports from mothers. We discuss explanations for these findings and implications for assessment of middle school students with ADHD.

Keywords: ADHD; Adolescence; Assessment; Diagnosis; Informant discrepancies.