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IES Grant

Title: Development of a Kindergarten Transitional Program for Preschool Students Identified as Being at High Risk for Behavioral Disorders
Center: NCSER Year: 2012
Principal Investigator: Graziano, Paulo Awardee: Florida International University
Program: Social and Behavioral Outcomes to Support Learning      [Program Details]
Award Period: 07/1/2012-06/30/2015 Award Amount: $1,497,831
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R324A120136

Purpose: Research has highlighted the strong association between school readiness and successful school outcomes for children who are at risk for behavioral disorders. Children's early externalizing behavior problems, including aggression, defiance, inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, have significant implications for children's school readiness and subsequent transitions into the early school years. In addition, children's self-regulation skills (ability to control behavior, attention, and emotions for the purpose of learning) upon entrance to kindergarten are strongly related to later school success across academic and social domains. Research has shown that a significant portion of preschoolers do not possess adequate self-regulation skills necessary for a successful transition to kindergarten. Intervening prior to the start of kindergarten is particularly important given that these behavioral problems are moderately stable and predictive of later academic deficits and more serious kinds of externalizing and internalizing disorders in later childhood and adolescence. The research team will develop and evaluate the promise of a Kindergarten Transitional Program (KTP) beginning in the summer before the start of kindergarten, aimed at facilitating the transition of preschoolers with at-risk behavior problems into the kindergarten setting.

Project Activities: This grant will be conducted in three phases. Phase 1 will consist of treatment development activities that will include initial manual and materials development plus consumer focus groups. Phase 2 will involve the initial testing of the intervention components of the KTP to ascertain their feasibility. Phase 3 will entail a pilot study to test the promise of the program for students' self-regulation skills, students' pre-academic skills, and their parents' school involvement and parenting skills.

Products: Products include a fully developed version of the KTP intervention, data on the feasibility of the use of the intervention with preschool students, and evidence of the potential impact of the intervention on student school readiness skills (including self-regulation skills and pre-academic skills) and their parents' school involvement and parenting skills. There will also be published reports and presentations on the project.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The research will take place in preschool and kindergarten settings in Florida.

Sample: A total of 90 preschool children who are about to enter kindergarten and who are identified as being at high risk for the development of behavioral disorders will participate.

Intervention: The KTP program will include three major components: 1) child-centered intervention (kindergarten summer readiness class with a behavioral modification program, emergent literacy/numeracy curriculum, and self-regulation training); 2) family-centered intervention (parenting workshops aimed at helping parents improve their child's transition to kindergarten and behavioral functioning at home and school); and 3) school-centered intervention (teacher consultation during the kindergarten year, including implementation of a daily report card classroom management system).

Research Design and Methods: An iterative, mixed-methods research design will be used to develop the intervention. The iterative design process consists of focus groups and trial implementations followed by revisions. Data from focus groups will be used to identify issues regarding the intervention's feasibility, usability, and acceptability. Focus group participants will include preschool teachers, kindergarten teachers, school administrators, and parents. This iterative development process includes implementing the intervention, determining the potential impact of each component of the intervention, and refining the intervention based on feedback from stakeholders. For the pilot study, students will be randomly assigned to one of three groups: 1) those that receive an 8-week summer program plus family and school interventions, 2) those that receive a 4-week summer program plus family and school interventions, and 3) those that receive only the school intervention. The research team will examine the intervention package in order to isolate the ideal length of the summer program component, and provide evidence of the promise of the intervention in improving children's school outcomes.

Control Condition: Students in the control condition will receive the school component of the intervention, but not the parent or child components.

Key Measures: Several process measures (e.g., attendance, satisfaction ratings) will be used to determine the feasibility of the developed interventions. Other outcome measures, obtained via multiple reports (i.e., parent, teacher, and observations), examining children's behavioral functioning, self-regulation skills, parental involvement, and academic achievement will be used to investigate aspects of treatment integrity (e.g., treatment enactment-mastery in controlled setting) and the effects of the various components of the intervention and their combination. In addition, a variety of measures will be used to assess fidelity and acceptability of the intervention.

Data Analytic Strategy: A variety of qualitative and quantitative analyses will be conducted on the implementation and outcome data to demonstrate feasibility and promise. Outcome measures will be analyzed via single degree of freedom contrasts of means procedures and use of covariate-adjusted change using baseline indices as covariates to maximize statistical power.


Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Graziano, P. A., and Hart, K. (2016). Beyond Behavioral Modification: Benefits of Socio-Emotional/Self-Regulation Training for Preschoolers with Behavior Problems. Journal of School Psychology, 58: 91–111. doi:10.1016/j.jsp.2016.07.004 Full text

Graziano, P., Garb, L., Ros, R., Hart, K., and Garcia, A. (2015). Executive Functioning and School Readiness among Preschoolers with Externalizing Problems: The Moderating Role of the Student-Teacher Relationship. Early Education and Development, 27(5): 573–589. doi:10.1080/10409289.2016.1102019

Graziano, P., Garb, L., Slavec, J., Ros, R., Hart, K., and Garcia, A. (2015). Self-Regulation Assessment Among Preschoolers With Externalizing Behavior Problems. Psychological Assessment, 27(4): 1337–1348. doi:10.1037/pas0000113?

Graziano, P., Ros, R., Haas, S., Hart, K., Garb, L., Waschbusch, D., and Garcia, A. (2015). Assessing Callous-Unemotional Traits in Preschool Children With Disruptive Behavior Problems Using Peer Reports. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 45(2): 201–214. doi:10.1080/15374416.2014.971460 Full text