What Is ACTeRS ADHD Testing?

ACTeRS refers to the ADD-H Comprehensive Teacher’s Rating Scale. It is not a test, but a rating scale. It is used by doctors to help diagnosis Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), also known as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). Doctors may also use it to help monitor the effectiveness of medication after a diagnosis has been made.


Although it is called a “Teacher’s Rating,” there are three forms of ACTeRS available, one for teachers, one for parents and a self report. It is designed to evaluate attention, hyperactivity, social skills and opposition. Each questionnaire consists of 24 to 25 items which are rated on a scale from one (almost never) to five (almost always). The teacher’s and parent forms are designed for use with children ages five to 12. The self report is for use with children 12-years-old or older and adults.


ACTeRS was created by the University of Illinois Institute for Child Behavior and Development in 1985. The norms for the test were based on the teacher ratings of 4,000 children in kindergarten through eighth grade. A second version, known as ACTeRS-2 was released in 2,000. According to “Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling and Development,” the second version was standardized using the ratings of 2,362 children.


After the rating scales are completed, they are then “scored” by a trained physician or psychologist. The scores are the compared to a rating scale and placed on a percentage scale. This scale evaluates how the rated child compares with other children regarding attention, hyperactivity, social skills and opposition. The lower the percentage, the more significant the difference.


ACTeRS is used by psychiatrists and doctors to help gather information. It is used because one of the criteria for a diagnosis of ADHD stated in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV is that symptoms of ADHD be visible in more than one situation, such as home and school. However, the rating scale cannot be used on its own to diagnose ADHD because it does not eliminate other disorders that may cause a child to exhibit similar symptoms.


Because the scales are so short, they are not considered as accurate as other rating scales. According to one study, the ACTeRS does not “perform as well in differentiating children with ADHD from those without ADHD.” It has also been criticized by some because the norm-referenced scores are differentiated only by gender, and not by age or grade. Also, because the ratings are another person’s opinion, there may be some bias involved in the ratings.

ACTeRS refers to the ADD-H Comprehensive Teacher's Rating Scale. It is not a test