Participation in education is a vital component of adolescents’ everyday life and a determinant of health and future opportunities in adult life. The School Setting Interview (SSI) is an instrument which assesses student-environment fit and reflects the potential needs for adjustments to enhance students’ participation in school activities. The aim of the study was to investigate the psychometric properties of the SSI for students with special educational needs in regular high school.
A sample of 509 students with special educational needs was assessed with the SSI. The polytomous unrestricted Rasch model was used to analyze the psychometric properties of the SSI regarding targeting, model fit, differential item functioning (DIF), response category functioning and unidimensionality.
The SSI generally confirmed fit to assumptions of the Rasch model. Reliability was acceptable (0.73) and the SSI scale was able to separate students into three different levels of student-environment fit. DIF among gender was detected in item “Remember things” and in item “Homework” DIF was detected among students with or without diagnosis. All items had disordered thresholds. The SSI demonstrated unidimensionality and no response dependence was present among items.
The results suggest that the SSI is valid for use among students with special educational needs in order to provide and evaluate environmental adjustments. However, the items with the detected DIF and the SSI rating scale with its disordered thresholds needs to be further scrutinized.