Professional Biography

Dr. Paul McDermott is a Professor in the Human Development and Quantitative Methods Division at Penn GSE. A psychometrician and quantitative psychologist, he previously served as director of Clinical and Industrial Measurement for The Psychological Corporation and holds a Diplomate from the American Academy of Assessment Psychology. Dr. McDermott is also a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist.

Dr. McDermott specializes in measurement theory, test construction, applied multivariate statistics, and multilevel and longitudinal modeling. He develops standardized measures of school behavioral adjustment, classroom learning behaviors, neighborhood effects, addiction severity, and cognitive growth. Recent nationally standardized measures include the Adjustment Scales for Early Transition in Schooling, the Adjustment Scales for Children and Adolescents, the Learning Behaviors Scale, the Preschool Learning Behaviors Scale, and the Learning-To-Learn Scales. These instruments are translated into many European, Asian, Middle Eastern, and South American languages and are applied worldwide. Dr. McDermott co-authored the Adjustment Scales for Preschool Intervention, which is designed for Head Start populations, and the Home Edition of the Adjustment Scales for Children and Adolescents, which is applied in the Caribbean for parental assessments of youth psychopathology.

Research Interests and Current Projects

Dr. McDermott directs several large-scale measurement development programs. In cooperation with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, he applies nationally representative data from his Adjustment Scales for Early Transition in Schooling to discover types of school maladjustment and to trace developmental patterns for pre-K through first grade. This program is identifying behavioral change trajectories that are emblematic of long-term academic proficiency and social resilience. A second program is longitudinally equating assessments from the Head Start Preschool Learning Behaviors Scale with those from the elementary school Learning Behaviors Scale. This work is revealing growth patterns in stylistic classroom learning behavior as related to later attendance, achievement, and adjustment problems. Dr. McDermott also directs a national epidemiologic investigation of the protective functions of children’s and adolescents' differential learning behaviors for K-12. Additionally, he heads research that examines assessor bias in high-stakes psychological assessment for special education classification.

Dr. McDermott is co-principal investigator for a large-scale Spanish/English translation and equating study assessing classroom behavioral disorders via the Adjustment Scales for Preschool Intervention, supported by the U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences. This work applies item response theory (IRT) and other advanced psychometric procedures to develop linguistically and culturally appropriate measures with bilingual preschool teachers and diverse Latino populations in the southeastern U.S.

Dr. McDermott also supervises a Penn research group that is scaling and validating several measures of classroom learning behavior as well as school and home assessments of youth social-emotional adjustment in Trinidad and Tobago. These measures are nationally standardized across the islands as supported by the Ministry of Education. Funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Dr. McDermott directed development of the Learning Express, an individually administered adaptive performance battery for measuring preschool learning growth over brief intervals as grounded in IRT, and the Learning-To-Learn Scales to assess differential learning styles related to strategic planning in learning, persistence, appropriate risk-taking, attentiveness, and interpersonal responsiveness in learning situations.

Education

Ph.D. (School Psychology) Temple University, 1975

Ed.M. (Educational Psychology) Temple University, 1969

B.A. (General Experimental Psychology) Fairleigh Dickinson University, 1967

Areas of Expertise

Multivariate statistics
Multilevel modeling
Longitudinal analysis
Item response theory
Test construction

Selected Publications

McDermott, P. A., Rovine, M. J., Watkins, M. W., Rikoon, S. H., Irwin, C. W., Reyes, R., & Chao, J. L. (in press). Emergent growth patterns of early education self-control problems among children from underresourced American families. Early Childhood Research Quarterly

Chao, J. L., McDermott, P. A., Watkins, M. W., Rovine, M. J., Drogalis, A. R., Worrell, F. C., & Hall, T .E. (in press). Standardization of parental assessments of child adjustment in Trinidad and Tobago using exploratory multidimensional IRT. Caribbean Journal of Psychology: Special Issue on Measurement and Methods

Scruggs, R., McDermott, P. A., & Quao, X. (in press). A nationwide study on research publication impact of faculty in American higher education doctoral programs. Innovative Higher Education

McDermott, P. A., Rovine, M. J., Buek, K., Reyes, R., Chao, J. L., & Watkins, M. W. (2018). Initial assessment versus gradual change in childhood behavior problems―Which better foretells the future? Psychology in the Schools, 55, 1071–1085.

Chao, J. L., McDermott, P. A., Watkins, M. W., Drogalis, A. R., Worrell, F. C., & Hall, T. E. (2018). The Learning Behaviors Scale: National standardization in Trinidad and Tobago. International Journal of School and Educational Psychology, 6, 35–49.

McDermott, P. A., Rovine, M. J., Reyes, R., Chao, J. L., Scruggs, R., Buek, K., & Fantuzzo, J. W. (2018). Trajectories of early childhood learning behaviors among children at risk: A growth mixture modeling approach. Psychology in the Schools, 55, 1–19.

Rovine, M. J., & McDermott, P. A. (2018). Latent growth curve and repeated measures ANOVA contrasts: What the models are telling you. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 53, 90–101.

McDermott, P. A., Rovine, M. J., Watkins, M. W., Chao, J. L., Irwin, C. W., & Reyes, R. (2017). Latent national subpopulations of early education classroom disengagement of children from underresourced families. Journal of School Psychology, 65, 69–82. 

McDermott, P. A., Watkins, M. W., Rhoad, A. M., Chao, J. L., Worrell, F. C., & Hall, T. E. (2016). Classroom context as a framework for assessing social and emotional adjustment: A national study in Trinidad and Tobago. Psychology in the Schools, 53, 626–640.

McDermott, P. A., Rikoon, S. H., & Fantuzzo, J. W. (2016). Transition and protective agency of early childhood learning behaviors as portents of later school attendance and adjustment. Journal of School Psychology, 52, 59–75.

McDermott, P. A., Watkins, M. W., Rhoad, A. M., Chao, J. L., Worrell, F. C., & Hall, T. E. (2015). Trinidad and Tobago national standardization of the Adjustment Scales for Children and Adolescents. International Journal of School and Educational Psychology, 3, 278–292.

McDermott, P. A., Watkins, M. W., Rovine, M. J., & Rikoon, S. H. (2014). Informing context and change in young children's sociobehavioral development ―The national Adjustment Scales for Early Transition in Schooling (ASETS). Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 29, 255–267.

McDermott, P. A., Rikoon, S. H., & Fantuzzo, J. W. (2014). Tracing children's approaches to learning through Head Start, kindergarten, and first grade―Different pathways to different outcomes. Journal of Educational Psychology, 106, 200–213.

Penderi, E., Petrogiannis, K., & McDermott, P. A. (2014). Psychometric properties and factor structure of the Greek version of the Preschool Learning Behavior Scale. International Journal of School and Educational Psychology, 2, 271–282. 

McDermott, P. A., Watkins, M. W., & Rhoad, A. (2014). Whose IQ is it?―Assessor bias variance in high-stakes psychological assessment. Psychological Assessment, 26, 207–214.

Zhang, X., McDermott, P. A., Fantuzzo, J. W., & Gadsden, V. L. (2013). Longitudinal stability of IRT and equivalent-groups linear and equipercentile equating. Psychological Reports: Measures and Statistics, 113, 1303–1325.

Rikoon, S. H., McDermott, P. A., & Fantuzzo, J. W. (2012). Approaches to learning among Head Start alumni: Structure and validity of the Learning Behaviors Scale.  School Psychology Review, 41, 272–294.

McDermott, P. A., Rikoon, S. H., Waterman, C., & Fantuzzo, J.. (2012). The Preschool Learning Behaviors Scale: Dimensionality and external validity in Head Start. School Psychology Review, 41, 66–81.

Waterman, C., McDermott, P. A., Fantuzzo, J. W., & Gadsden, V. L. (2012). The matter of assessor variance in early childhood education―Or whose score is it anyway? Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 27, 46–54.

George, S., McDermott, P. A., Watkins, M. W., Worrell, F., & Hall, T. E. (2012). The assessment of youth psychopathology in Trinidad and Tobago: A cross-cultural construct validity study of the Adjustment Scales for Children and Adolescents (ASCA). International Journal of Educational and Psychological Assessment, 10, 159–178.

McDermott, P. A., Fantuzzo, J. W., Warley, H. P. Waterman, C., Angelo, L. E., Sekino, S., & Gadsden, V. L. (2011).  Multidimensionality of teachers’ graded responses for preschoolers’ stylistic learning behavior: The Learning-To-Learn Scales. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 71, 148–169.