Scoring the Risk Assessment Accurately:
ALWAYS use your scoring guide. It can feel tedious to constantly review the scoring guide, but each question has been validated against a very specific set of criteria. The best way to assure accurate scoring is to review the scoring criteria EACH TIME you score a question. In addition to the pre-printed interview guide, there are files available through the Risk Assessment Website that summarize the notes you were asked to take on each question in the assessment that can be accessed here: https://youthrisk2.cech.uc.edu/dashboard/file when logged into the system.
Who to Believe: During booster sessions and technical assistance sessions, AOIC staff frequently hear from probation staff in Illinois that they were trained that they needed to score the risk assessment based solely on what the client tells them. This is NOT the appropriate way to score. Client input is ONE PIECE of the scoring puzzle. To score an assessment accurately, probation staff need to use all four sources of information listed below whenever possible. Further staff needs to use their professional skill and judgment in determining how the information gathered fits into the scoring rubric in order to determine the correct answer to each question on the assessment for a client.
Hierarchy of Information:
Official Record: Probation, police, and court records are considered the most reliable information and this information should trump all information below it on the hierarchy.
Collateral Sources: Teachers, therapists, parents, significant others, etc. should be considered the next most reliable source, with one caveat: KNOW YOUR SOURCE. Not all collateral sources are objective and unbiased. Officers should use their professional knowledge and judgment when determining the weight to give to collateral sources. Regardless of the weight given, it is important to obtain as much collateral information as possible prior to scoring a risk assessment to support accurate scoring.
Interview: During your interview with your client, ask questions, ask follow-up questions, and ask follow-up questions to those questions as well. The point of the interview guide is to provide a starting point for your discussion with the client. However, we respect your skills and abilities as a professional and rely on that skill to obtain the information needed to accurately score the assessment.
Self-Report Form: The Self-Report Form is intended to provide a piece of the puzzle. However, the above sources should generally be considered more reliable and given more weight when scoring an assessment. The Self-Report Form can be used to help clarify points, but should not be used as the sole source of information for the scoring of any questions. Even questions 3.3, 3.4, and 3.5 which are to be scored on client perspective should only be scored after the officer has a discussion with the client around their reasoning for choosing whatever response they chose and the officer determining how that response fits into the scoring criteria contained in the scoring guide.