We examined (a) the utility of teacher ratings on the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ; Goodman in J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 40:1337-1345, 2001. doi: 10.1097/00004583-200111000-00015 ) and BASC-2 Behavioral and Emotional Screening System (BESS; Kamphaus and Reynolds in Behavior assessment system for children-second edition: behavioral and emotional screening system. Pearson, Bloomington, 2007), completed at kindergarten entry, in identifying risk status as defined by important criterion variables (teacher ratings of impairment, daily behavioral performance, and quarterly grades in kindergarten and first grade), and (b) the incremental validity of scores on each of these rating scales in predicting criterion variables beyond that predicted by the school district’s academic screening tool. The participants were 248 kindergarten students (91 % response rate) from one school district. Receiver operating characteristic analyses and area under the curve values indicate that both measures have moderate to high utility (AUCs >= .78) in identifying children demonstrating at-risk academic performance, problematic classroom behavior, and impairment in social and emotional functioning. Regression analyses indicate that both measures account for incremental variance (between 6.69 and 45.84 %) in kindergarten outcomes beyond that accounted for by the school district’s academic screening tool. The BESS was a slightly stronger predictor of academic outcomes, and the SDQ was a slightly stronger predictor of peer outcomes. Implications for selecting a teacher measure for universal screening of social, emotional, and behavioral problems at kindergarten entry are discussed.