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IES Grant

Title: Evidence-Based Interventions for Severe Behavior Problems: Check, Connect, and Expect (CC&E)
Center: NCSER Year:
Principal Investigator: Cheney, Douglas Awardee: University of Washington
Program: Unsolicited and Other Awards: Special Education Research      [Program Details]
Award Period: 10/1/2004 to 9/30/2008 Award Amount: $4,298,759*
Award Number: H324P040012

Funded through the Office of Special Education Programs prior to the establishment of NCSER.

Purpose: The purpose of this program is to conduct intervention research that results in improving the quality of the lives of students with severe behavior problems who often engage in behaviors that are disruptive in school environments and, at times, dangerous to themselves and others. The intervention is a hybrid approach, using methods from evidenced based practices in the Check and Connect Program (Christenson, Sinclair, & Lahr, 1998, 2004) and the Behavior Education Program (Crone, Horner, & Hawken, 2004). The project will conduct a randomized research trial at 18 schools (9 intervention and 9 comparison) to investigate the influence of these evidenced based practices on the social and academic functioning of nearly 400 students.

Project Activities: This project will address the following research questions:

  1. What is the effect of Check, Connect, and Expect intervention (CC&E) on the social and academic outcomes of students with severe behavior problems?
  2. What is the effect of the more intensive, function-based intervention on students' social and academic outcomes?
  3. What is the influence of fidelity of implementation using the Check, Connect, and Expect intervention (CC&E) or the intensive function-based intervention on students' social and academic outcomes?
  4. What is the influence of social validity on students' social and academic outcomes?
  5. What is the influence of the identified moderating and mediating factors on students' social and academic functioning?
  6. What is the "goodness of fit" between the proposed theoretical model and the measurement model employed?

Products: The project's model allows assessment of causal questions and will help to link the findings to broader theory. Because theoretical assumptions and intervention are based on prior empirical evidence, the authors believe the intervention proposed will lead to results that alter the developmental trajectories of students, decrease their school risk factors, and the school will serve as a mediating factor in their social and academic growth. Participating school districts will coordinate dissemination of project findings, tools, and materials within their districts. The project's website will be used for information, product dissemination, and outreach to schools. State and national collaboration on dissemination efforts will include the Washington Education Association, the Center for Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports at the University of Oregon, the Council for Exceptional Children and the Council for Children with Behavioral Disorders. Results of the study will be published in related peer-reviewed journals.

Setting: The researchers will work with elementary schools in three midsize central city and urban fringe districts in the state of Washington. Across the schools, variation in racial/ethnic composition and socioeconomic status of the students is anticipated.

Population: The intervention will be implemented with students in grades K-3 with significant emotional/behavioral problems who would be considered at-risk for developing a behavior disorder or students diagnosed with an emotional/behavioral disability (EBD). Teachers will screen students with the Systematic Screening for Behavior Disorders (SSBD). For students with scores above a predetermined cutoff on the SSBD, which indicates high levels of problem behavior, teachers will confirm severity of behavior problems by completing the Behavior Assessment System for Children (BASC) rating scale. If the student is one standard deviation above the mean on the Internalizing and/or Externalizing scale of the BASC, the student will qualify for inclusion as a student at-risk. A total of 18 schools will be recruited, with 3 classrooms at each K-3 grade level (approximately 12 classes per school) participating. It is anticipated that 16-19 students per school will qualify as at-risk, and an additional 14 students with EBD labels per school district will participate for a total of 330 - 386 student participants. Schools that have used any of the interventions in the past 3 years will be excluded from participating.

Intervention: The Check, Connect, and Expect (CC&E) program is a hybrid of the Check and Connect (C&C) Program (Christenson et al., 2004) and the Behavior Education Program (BEP; Crone et al., 2004) and is implemented across two school years. C&C focuses on improving students' positive relationships and prosocial behavior through increased school staff reinforcement. BEP focuses on increasing students' abilities to meet social expectations through increased classroom structure and feedback. Students will be provided both a basic- and a more intensive-level of CC&E depending on their level of need. The basic intervention consists of daily support from school based monitor (classified staff member) who will provide them with a daily check-in to promote positive thoughts and feelings toward school, encourage students to meet daily social and academic expectations, and provide them brief problem-solving sessions regarding school problems. The monitor then meets with students at the end of the day to record their points from their daily progress report, which is completed by the classroom teachers. When students meet daily and weekly goals, the monitor will give them positive verbal and tangible reinforcement. Students will get a copy of their daily progress report to share with their parents for further praise and reinforcement. The Intensive Functionally Based Intervention will be for students who are not successful with the basic level of CC&E due to intensity or duration of their behavior problems. These students will receive an intensive intervention that is developed between the district coordinator, monitor, and classroom teacher. All planning will proceed based on individual needs of the student, but will follow a standardized procedure.

Research Design and Methods: Schools are randomly assigned to 2 groups (treatment and control) with 9 schools in each condition. Measures will be taken at pre-intervention, after year 1 of intervention, post-intervention, and then follow-up 1 year later. The multiple assessment points allow growth curve analyses to be completed.

Control Condition: A "business as usual" control condition will be used.

Key Measures: The researchers will collect information across a variety of domains including contextual and covariate information such as student and teacher demographics and the Schoolwide Information System (SWIS) which provides information about school suspension rates, achievement, etc. Schools will also provide information about the use of schoolwide positive behavior support programs via the Schoolwide Evaluation Tool (SET). At the student level, information will be collected about behavior at school through the Behavior Assessment System for Children (BASC), the Behavioral and Emotional Rating Scale (BERS), and the Social Skills Rating System (SSRS). Parents will report on home behaviors with the parent-version of the SSRS and the BERS. Researchers will also collect student-level academic engagement and academic performance data. Teachers will provide information regarding satisfaction and acceptability of the CC&E program. Data on costs associated with implementation and sustainability of the program will also be collected.

Data Analytic Strategy: Data will be analyzed using multivariate analyses, hierarchical linear modeling, growth curve analyses, and pathway analysis to assess the influence of the intervention on students' academic and social progress. Mixed model latent growth curve analyses will be used to measure student outcome constructs (Level 1), treatment and mediating factors (Level 2), and moderating factors (Level 3). Level of cost benefit will be described using effect sizes across sets of outcomes. These analyses will be conducted by calculating administrative and instructional cost savings (in time), and long-term reduction of risk factors.


Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Cheney, D., and Yong, M. (2014). RE-AIM Checklist for Integrating and Sustaining Tier Two Social-Behavioral Interventions. Intervention in School and Clinic, 50(1): 39–44. doi:10.1177/1053451214532343

Cheney, D., Flower, A., and Templeton, T. (2008). Applying Response to Intervention Metrics in the Social Domain for Students at Risk of Developing Emotional or Behavioral Disorders. Journal of Special Education, 42(2): 108–126. doi:10.1177/0022466907313349

Cheney, D., Lynass, L., Flower, A., Waugh, M., and Iwaszuk, W. (2009). The Check, Connect, and Expect Program: A Targeted, Tier Two Intervention in the School-Wide Positive Behavior Support Model. Preventing School Failure, 54(3): 152–158. doi:10.1080/10459880903492742

Cheney, D., Stage, S., Hawken, L., Lynass, L., Mielenz, C., and Waugh, M. (2009). A 2–Year Outcome Study of the Check, Connect, and Expect Intervention for Students at Risk for Severe Behavior Problems. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 17(4): 226–243. doi:10.1177/1063426609339186

Lynass, L., Tsai, S., Richmond, T., and Cheney, D. (2012). Social Expectations and Behavioral Indicators in School-Wide Positive Behavior Supports: A National Study of Behavior Matrices. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 14(3): 153–161. doi:10.1177/1098300711412076

McDaniel, S., Flower, A., and Cheney, D. (2011). Put Me in, Coach! A Powerful and Efficient Tier 2 Behavioral Intervention for Alternative Settings. Beyond Behavior, 20(1): 18–24.

Stage, S., Cheney, D., Lynass, L., Mielenz, C., and Flower, A. (2012). Three Validity Studies of the Daily Progress Report in Relationship to the Check, Connect, and Expect Intervention. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 14(3): 181–191. doi:10.1177/1098300712438942

Tsai, S., and Cheney, D. (2012). The Impact of the Adult-Child Relationship on School Adjustment for Children at Risk of Serious Behavior Problems. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 20(2): 105–114. doi:10.1177/1063426611418974

Yong, M., and Cheney, D. (2013). Essential Features of Tier Two Social-Behavioral Interventions. Psychology in the Schools, 50(8): 844–861. doi:10.1002/pits.21710

* The dollar amount includes funds from the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) and NCSER.