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Several studies of the SEI have been conducted with students in grades 6-12. Additional research has confirmed the factor structure of the SEI (Betts, Appleton, Reschly, Christenson, & Huebner, 2010; Reschly, Betts, & Appleton, 2014) and provided evidence of measurement invariance and score reliability across grades 6-12 and gender (Betts et al., 2010). Another study, conducted with students in grades 9-12, provided evidence of convergent and divergent validity with another measure of engagement and motivation (Reschly et al., 2014).
With respect to concurrent validity, low- to moderate- correlations, in expected directions, have been found between SEI scores and other measures of school performance (e.g., achievement, attendance, disciplinary incidents; Reschly et al., 2014). Using a large sample (N=35,900) of middle school students, Lovelace, Reschly, Appleton, and Lutz (2014) compared SEI scores for three groups of students: those who were behaviorally disengaged, as determined by absences and disciplinary incidents, with those who were not; students with disability classifications that placed them at high risk of dropout (i.e., Emotional and Behavior Disorders) compared to a lower-risk category (i.e., Speech/Language Impairment), and those with above and below average achievement. Each comparison was statistically significant and with one exception (CRSW and achievement level), in the expected direction.
A few studies have also examined the long-term predictive validity of the SEI. Pearson, using data from a large sample of 8th graders, found that 69% of the variation in college-ready graduation from high school could be predicted from 8th grade variables (e.g., achievement, motivation, behavior, family and school characteristics). Of these, the SEI scales counted for a large portion of this prediction (Pearson, 2014). Similarly, Lovelace et al. (2014), after controlling for demographic variables associated with dropout risk, found that 9th grade SEI scores predicted dropout and on-time graduation 4 years later. A second study sought to determine whether the SEI added anything of value for prediction beyond the data readily available in school records, specifically those indicators commonly used in Early Warning Systems. Two of the SEI factors in particular, Future Goals and Aspirations and Family Support for Learning, contributed unique, significant variance to the prediction of high school dropout, even after several variables that were highly and independently predictive of dropout, were taken into account (Lovelace, Reschly, & Appleton, in press). Finally, a recent study found, after controlling for demographic, behavior, and achievement variables, that SEI scores in the 10th, 11th, and 12th grades significantly predicted college attendance and persistence through the first year (Fraysier, Reschly, & Appleton, 2017).
It should be noted that most research studies of the SEI have used 33-items and five factors, dropping the sixth factor, labeled Extrinsic Motivation, from analyses due to concern over the small number of items (n=2) and reverse coding of these items. However, many schools and districts using the SEI elect to use the 35-item version, keeping the Extrinsic Motivation factor, due to their interest in this aspect of students’ cognitive engagement.