The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire and standardized academic tests: Reliability across respondent type and age

PLoS One. 2019 Jul 25;14(7):e0220193. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0220193. eCollection 2019.


Exploiting nation-wide data from the Danish National Birth Cohort, we show that children's emotional and behavioral problems measured by the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) are closely related to their performance in standardized academic tests for reading and mathematics in sixth grade. The relationship is remarkably linear across the entire distribution for both the total difficulties score and subscale scores of the SDQ; higher scores on the SDQ (more problems) are related to worse performance in academic tests. We assess the similarity across respondent type; parent (child age 7 and 11), teacher (child age 11) and self-reported scores (child age 11), and find that teacher and parent reported scores have very similar slopes in the SDQ-test score relationship, while the child reported SDQ in relation to the academic test performance has a flatter slope.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Denmark
  • Educational Measurement / standards*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Mathematics / education
  • Psychology, Child
  • Psychometrics* / methods
  • Psychometrics* / standards
  • Reading
  • Reference Standards
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Self Report / standards
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*

Grant support

Sievertsen acknowledges financial support from the Danish Council for Independent Research through grant 09-070295. This paper uses data from the Danish National Birth Cohort (DNBC). The DNBC was established with a significant grant from the Danish National Research Foundation. Additional support was obtained from the Danish Regional Committees, the Pharmacy Foundation, the Egmont Foundation, the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation, the Health Foundation and other minor grants. The DNBC Biobank has been supported by the Novo Nordisk Foundation and the Lundbeck Foundation. Follow-up of mothers and children have been supported by the Danish Medical Research Council (SSVF 0646, 271-08-0839/06-066023, O602-01042B, 0602-02738B), the Lundbeck Foundation (195/04, R100-A9193), The Innovation Fund Denmark 0603-00294B (09-067124), the Nordea Foundation (02-2013-2014), Aarhus Ideas (AU R9-A959-13-S804), University of Copenhagen Strategic Grant (IFSV 2012), and the Danish Council for Independent Research (DFF – 4183-00594 and DFF - 4183-00152). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.