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IES Grant

Title: Helping Educational Leadership Mobilize Evidence (HELM): An Organizational Intervention to Promote Strategic Implementation in Schools
Center: NCER Year: 2020
Principal Investigator: Lyon, Aaron Awardee: University of Washington
Program: Social and Behavioral Context for Academic Learning      [Program Details]
Award Period: 3 years (09/01/2020 - 08/31/2023) Award Amount: $1,399,999
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R305A200023

Co-Principal Investigators: Cook, Clayton R.; Locke, Jill

Purpose: The purpose of this project is to develop and test an organization-focused implementation intervention, called Helping Educational Leaders Mobilize Evidence (HELM). HELM aims to improve elementary school principals' use of strategic implementation leadership to support the adoption and high-fidelity use of Tier 1/universal social emotional and behavioral programs and practices that improve student outcomes.

Project Activities: The researchers will iteratively develop and refine HELM, conduct usability and feasibility tests, and run a pilot study of the fully developed intervention. They will also analyze the cost of the intervention.

Products: This project will develop HELM, information about the cost of implementing the intervention, and peer-reviewed publications, presentations, and additional dissemination products (e.g., research briefs) that reach education stakeholders such as practitioners and policymakers.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The project will include public school districts in Washington State and Minnesota and a university training program with a large network of alumni leaders supporting elementary schools. Participating schools reflect a wide range of student race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status.

Sample: Participants will be principals, central administrators, and teachers working in elementary schools as well as expert advisors from across the country. Across the four proposed studies, a total of approximately 150 educators and national experts will provide data and contribute to the project aims. No students or families will be recruited.

Intervention: The researchers will adapt an existing implementation intervention called Leadership and Organizational Change for Implementation, which has been tested in mental health and child welfare service sectors. HELM will ensure the intervention's acceptability, feasibility, contextual appropriateness, and effectiveness when used with principals in authentic elementary education settings. HELM is based on the assumption that leaders play a critical role in how staff view and accept evidence-based practices and the extent to which they implement such practices with fidelity. However, those leaders require strategic supports to lead effectively.

Research Design and Methods: The researchers will use an iterative development process, leveraging mixed methods across three studies. These studies will include education stakeholder focus groups to determine contextual appropriateness of the intervention components, an expert review to ensure conceptual consistency and effectiveness, a field demonstration with principals to assess feasibility and acceptability. Once the researchers have a fully developed version of HELM, they will run a randomized pilot trial of HELM in the context of PAX Good Behavior Game (PAX-GBG) implementation to evaluate proximal implementation outcomes (e.g., fidelity) and distal outcomes (e.g., student behavioral and educational outcomes).

Control Condition: The control group will be kindergarten through grade 5 elementary schools that are not currently implementing the PAX-GBG.

Key Measures: Key measures include qualitative protocols, principal implementation leadership, implementation climate, teacher implementation citizenship behavior, and measures of acceptability, feasibility, likely effectiveness, appropriateness, and cost. Objective fidelity data will be collected for PAX-GBG. Administrative and teacher-report will assess student outcomes.

Data Analytic Strategy: The researchers will conduct mixed-methods analyses using conventional and directed content analysis to interpret feedback from stakeholders and guide revisions to the HELM protocol. Researchers will use multilevel modeling to assess the impact of HELM using data from the pilot study.

Cost Analysis: Costs of HELM delivery and to achieve a positive impact on implementation (cost-effectiveness) will be evaluated preliminarily in preparation for a larger Efficacy trial.

Related Project: The Organizational Assessment for Strategic Implementation in Schools (R305A160114)