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IES Grant

Title: Long-Term Effects of the Kids in Transition to School (KITS) Program for Children with Developmental Disabilities and Behavioral Problems
Center: NCSER Year: 2015
Principal Investigator: Pears, Katherine Awardee: Oregon Social Learning Center
Program: Early Intervention and Early Learning      [Program Details]
Award Period: 3 Years (7/1/2015-6/30/2018) Award Amount: $1,299,872
Type: Efficacy and Replication Award Number: R324A150149

Purpose: This research set out to examine the long-term effects of the Kids in Transition to School (KITS) Program, an intervention aimed at enhancing the school readiness of young children with co-occurring developmental disabilities and behavioral problems, on children's functioning in elementary school. Children with these co-occurring problems are at particularly high risk for problems with school readiness, which may lead to further negative educational outcomes. In a prior IES-funded study, the PI conducted a randomized controlled trial with preschool children with developmental disabilities and behavior problems and their families to examine the impact of KITS on school readiness through Grade 1. The intervention demonstrated positive effects on early literacy, self-regulation, and parent involvement in school at the end of kindergarten. The current study planned to follow children and families who participated in the original efficacy trial to determine child outcomes through grade 5. The research aimed to examine the impact of KITS on children's academic competence, social and self-regulation skills, and teacher-student relationships.

Project Activities: This study proposed to continue collecting and analyzing data on approximately 203 children who participated in the original randomized trial of KITS, collecting data on children through grade 5 for each cohort. Using a variety of data analyses techniques, the team planned to investigate the long-term impact of the intervention on academic competence, social-emotional functioning, and positive teacher-student relationships, as well as examine mediators (school readiness and positive parenting) and moderators (child, family, school, and services characteristics) of the relationships between the intervention and late elementary school outcomes. In addition, the team planned to conduct a cost-effectiveness analysis of the KITS Program.

Structured Abstract


Setting: The research will take place primarily in elementary schools in a mid-sized metropolitan area in Oregon.

Sample: There will be 203 children in grades 3 – 5, and their families and teachers, participating in this study. This represents 97% of the children who participated in the original efficacy study, who were recruited as preschoolers with developmental disabilities or delays and co-occurring behavior problems.

Intervention: The KITS Program is a short-term, high-intensity intervention for children with co-occurring developmental disabilities/delays and behavior problems delivered the summer before children enter kindergarten. The 24 curriculum-based therapeutic playgroups sessions focus on literacy, social skills, and self-regulation. In addition, eight parent workshops focus on parent involvement in early literacy and positive parenting.

Research Design and Methods: In the original study, 209 preschool children with developmental disabilities and behavior problems were randomly assigned to the KITS condition or the control condition in four annual cohorts. They were assessed in the spring prior to kindergarten, immediately prior to kindergarten entry, twice in kindergarten, and the in spring of grade 1. Since that time, data has also been collected in grade 2 and, for some cohorts, later elementary school grades. In the current study, follow-up child and family outcome data will be collected in grade 5 for the second cohort, grades 4 and 5 for the third cohort, and grades 3 through 5 for the fourth cohort. The research team will examine whether children in the intervention group demonstrate improved academic competence, social-emotional functioning, and positive teacher-student relationships through elementary school compared to the control group. In addition, the team will examine whether the impact of the intervention on student outcomes will be mediated by child school readiness and positive parenting, or moderated by characteristics of the child, family, school, or other services. Finally, the research team will examine the incremental costs of KITS compared to services as usual, hypothesizing that the cost per unit of improvement in child outcomes will be lower for the KITS group than the control group.

Control Condition: At the time when the KITS program was implemented for the treatment group (the summer before and during the first 6 weeks of kindergarten), children in the control group received any early childhood special education service they would have typically received.

Key Measures: Child outcome measures, taken at various points in time during the longitudinal study, will include a variety of sources and formats. Measures of academic skills and achievement include direct child assessments (state assessment of math and reading performance, curriculum-based measures of literacy from school records, and several subtests of the Woodcock-Johnson III-NU), teacher report on academics, and parent report on school adjustment. Behavioral and emotional regulation, and related skills, will be measured through school records of discipline referrals; parent and teacher reports using the Child Behavior Checklist, Conner's Rating Scales-Revised, and Behavioral Rating Inventory of Executive Function; and direct child assessments including the Seattle Personality Questionnaire and inhibition tasks. Social competence will be measured through parent and teacher reports on the Social Skills Improvement System, Walker-McConnell Scales of Social Competence, and School Adjustment-Elementary Version, and children's self-report on loneliness and social adequacy. Teachers will report on the Student Teacher Relationship Scale and students will report on the Teacher Student Relationship Inventory. Finally, mediators will include outcome assessments from earlier time points in the original study, and moderators will include assessments from the original study, ongoing family questionnaires and interviews, and measures of current teachers' instructional practices and self-efficacy.

Data Analytic Strategy: Data on the long-term effects of the randomized controlled trial will be analyzed using a variety of approaches, including analysis of variance, regression, and latent growth modeling. A structural equation modeling framework will be used to examine hypothesized mediators and moderators.

Related IES Projects: A Randomized Efficacy Trial of the Kids in Transition to School (KITS) Program for Children with Developmental Disabilities and Behavioral Problems (R324A080026); A Randomized Efficacy Trial of the Kids in Transition to School (KITS) Program to Improve the School Readiness of Children in Disadvantaged Communities (R305A120391)

Products and Publications

ERIC Citations: Find available citations in ERIC for this award here.

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Journal article

McDermott, J. M., Pears, K. C., Bruce, J., Kim, H. K., Roos, L., Yoerger, K. L., and Fisher, P. A. (2017). Improving Kindergarten Readiness in Children with Developmental Disabilities: Changes in Neural Correlates of Response Monitoring. Applied Neuropsychology: Child, 7(3), 187–199. doi:10.1080/21622965.2017.1286239