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IES Grant

Title: Efficacy of the BEST in CLASS Intervention for Young Children at High Risk for Emotional and Behavioral Disorders
Center: NCSER Year: 2011
Principal Investigator: Conroy, Maureen Awardee: University of Florida
Program: Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Competence      [Program Details]
Award Period: 8/15/2011 8/14/2015 Award Amount: $4,134,515
Type: Efficacy and Replication Award Number: R324A110173

Purpose: The prevalence rates of young children at elevated risk for emotional and behavioral disorders is concerning, with data indicating that approximately 12–25 percent of young children display chronic problem behaviors that impact their current and future performance in school. There is a need to intervene early with young children before the severity and intensity of their problems increase. BEST in CLASS was developed with IES funding as a secondary level intervention for teachers in early childhood classrooms. The focus of the intervention is on improving student social, emotional, and behavioral functioning, and concomitantly, the pre-academic competence of 4 year olds at high risk for the development of emotional and behavioral disorders. BEST in CLASS has demonstrated feasibility of implementation by early childhood educators as well as promise for preventing and ameliorating problem behaviors demonstrated by high-risk children in early childhood settings, but the efficacy of the intervention has not yet been tested.

Project activities: Early childhood classrooms in Florida and Virginia will be recruited and randomly assigned to either the intervention condition or a business-as-usual comparison condition. Children screened to be at elevated risk for emotional and behavioral disorders within each classroom will participate. The BEST in CLASS intervention is comprised of seven intervention modules, which include instructional strategies (e.g., home-school communication, setting rules, expectations, and routines) designed to promote engagement and learning. Multiple measures will be used to assess quality of teacher-child interactions, student behavior, and pre-academic outcomes. Teacher self-efficacy and teacher-child relationships will be examined as potential mediators of intervention outcomes.

Products: The products of this project include evidence of the efficacy of the BEST in CLASS intervention, published reports, and presentations.

Structured Abstract

Setting: Two hundred and forty early childhood classrooms across urban cities in Florida and Virginia will be included in this study.

Population: Approximately 720 children (approximately 3 students at elevated risk for emotional and behavioral disorders per classroom) will participate. The Early Screening Project will be used to identify children. Children who demonstrate cognitive developmental delays will be excluded.

Intervention: BEST in CLASS is a strengths-based, manualized intervention model that targets the prevention and amelioration of problem behaviors demonstrated by young children at risk for or with emotional/behavioral disorders in early childhood classrooms. This intervention combines evidence-based behavioral strategies with a coaching model designed to optimize implementation by teachers of preschool-age children. BEST in CLASS increases teachers' use and quality of specific behavioral and instructional strategies, provision of positive attention, general classroom management skills, and sense of self-efficacy to enhance the quality of teacher-child relationships and the classroom environment.

Intervention components include seven teacher learning modules and a coaching model. Each teacher learning module includes key definitions, principles for effective usage, steps and strategies for implementation, examples (written and video), and application exercises (a case story and knowledge check). The modules include: (1) Basics of Behavior and Development; (2) Home-School Communication; (3) Rules, Expectations, and Routines; (4) Behavior Specific Praise; (5) Precorrection and Active Supervision; (6) Opportunities to Respond and Instructional Pacing; and (7) Teacher Feedback. The BEST in CLASS coaching model provides comprehensive instructions for coaches to support and enhance teachers' acquisition, implementation, and maintenance of the BEST in CLASS strategies. Weekly coaching sessions include classroom-based direct observational data collection and coaches provide feedback to teachers through in-vivo coaching during ongoing instruction and coaching meetings that occur outside of classroom instruction. Participating teachers receive a 1-day overview training followed by 14 weeks of classroom-based coaching.

Research Design and Methods: This study will utilize a multi-site, four-cohort cluster randomized trial in which classrooms serve as the unit of randomization (approximately 60 classrooms per cohort). Classrooms will be randomly assigned to the BEST in CLASS intervention or to a business-as-usual comparison condition. The immediate and short-term (i.e., one month following participation) effects of BEST in CLASS will be evaluated.

Control Condition: Teachers in the comparison group will provide instruction as typically provided in their classrooms.

Key Measures: Measures include the Social Skills Improvement System Rating Scales, the Caregiver-Teacher Report Form, and the Bracken Basic Concept Scale-3: Receptive to assess student academic and behavioral outcomes. The Teacher-Child Interactions Direct Observational System will be used to examine the occurrence of teacher behavior and focal children's adaptive and problem behaviors. The Classroom Assessment Scoring System, Pre-K will examine classroom atmosphere and inClass: Individualized Classroom Assessment Scoring System will be use as a standardized measure of individual child-teacher interactions. Treatment fidelity will include measurement of both adherence and quality of implementation. Teacher self-efficacy, measured with the Teachers' Sense of Efficacy Scale and the Teachers' Self-Efficacy Beliefs Scale, and teacher-child relationships, measured via the Student Teacher Relationship Scale, will be examined as potential mediators.

Data Analytic Strategy: The researchers will use hierarchical linear modeling to test the general impact of the intervention as well as mediating effects.

Related IES Projects: Promoting Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Competence in Young High-Risk Children: A Preventative Classroom-Based Early Intervention Model (R324A080074)


Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Conroy, M.A., Sutherland, K.S., Algina, J., Wilson, R., Martinez, J., and Whalon, K. (2014). Measuring Teacher Implementation of the BEST in CLASS Intervention Program and Corollary Child Outcomes. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders. doi:10.1177/1063426614532949

Conroy, M.A., Sutherland, K.S., Vo, A., Carr, S.E., and Ogston, P. (2014). Early Childhood Teachers' Use of Effective Instructional Practices and the Collateral Effects on Young Children's Behavior. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 16(2): 81–92. doi:10.1177/1098300713478666

Sutherland, K.S., Conroy, M.A., Vo, A., Abrams, L.M., and Ogston, P. (2013). An Initial Evaluation of the Teacher-Child Interaction Direct Observation System: Measuring Teacher-Child Interaction Behaviors in Classroom Settings. Assessment for Effective Intervention, 39(1): 12–23. doi:10.1177/1534508412463814

Sutherland, K.S., Conroy, M.A., Vo, A., and Ladwig, C. (2015). Implementation Integrity of Practice-Based Coaching: Preliminary Results From the BEST in CLASS Efficacy Trial. School Mental Health, 7(1): 21–33. doi:10.1007/s12310–014–9134–8

Sutherland, K.S., McLeod, B.D., Conroy, M.A., Abrams, L.M., and Smith, M.M. (2013). Preliminary Psychometric Properties of the BEST in CLASS Adherence and Competence Scale. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders. doi:10.1177/1063426613497258

Sutherland, K.S., McLeod, B.D., Conroy, M.A., and Cox, J.R. (2013). Measuring Treatment Integrity in the Implementation of Evidence-Based Programs in Early Childhood Settings: Conceptual Issues and Recommendations. Journal of Early Intervention, 35(2): 129–149. doi:10.1177/1053815113515025

Vo, A., Sutherland, K.S., and Conroy, M.A. (2012). Best in Class: A Classroom-Based Model for Ameliorating Problem Behavior in Early Childhood Settings. Psychology in the Schools, 49(5): 402–415. doi:10.1002/pits.21609