Skip Navigation
Funding Opportunities | Search Funded Research Grants and Contracts

IES Grant

Title: A Multi-Site Efficacy Trial of the Class-wide Function-related Intervention Teams "CW-FIT": A Research to Practice Agency for Students With and At Risk for EBD
Center: NCSER Year: 2012
Principal Investigator: Wills, Howard Awardee: University of Kansas Center for Research, Inc.
Program: Social and Behavioral Outcomes to Support Learning      [Program Details]
Award Period: 7/1/2012 – 6/30/2016 Award Amount: $2,916,059
Goal: Efficacy and Replication Award Number: R324A120344

Co-Principal Investigator: Debra Kamps

Purpose: Research suggests that 3–6 percent of school-age children have emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD), yet these students are typically not identified until they have exhibited serious problems, including school failure, over multiple school years. There is a need for evidence-based interventions that prevent and ameliorate severe problem behavior exhibited by school-age children. Behavioral interventions based on an understanding of "why" a student displays problem behavior (i.e., the function or cause) have shown promising results for addressing a wide range of problem behaviors. One such intervention with evidence of efficacy is the Class-wide Function-based Intervention Teams (CW-FIT), which is designed to teach appropriate behavior skills (e.g., how to appropriately gain the teacher's attention) and reinforce the use of those skills through a game format. The intervention package also includes individual intervention procedures for students who do not successfully respond to the class-wide intervention. CW-FIT has prior evidence of efficacy to improve class-wide on-task behavior and decrease disruptive behaviors of students with or at risk for EBD.

This study intends to replicate prior findings with a larger, more diverse population across three geographical areas. In addition, the implementation will better represent typical conditions of routine practice with school staff providing the majority of the supervision, compared to the first efficacy trial which included coaches supported with grant funds. This study will examine the impact of the intervention on outcomes measured at the teacher, class, and individual student levels for students diagnosed with or at risk for EBD in general and special education settings.

Project Activities: The researchers will conduct a multi-site randomized efficacy trial of the Class-wide Function-based Intervention Teams intervention in three states with school staff providing the majority of the supervision to closely resemble typical conditions of routine practice. Fidelity of implementation will be monitored and outcomes will be measured at the class level (increases in on-task behaviors and teacher praise) and student level (increases in on-task behavior and decreases in disruptions) for (1) students at risk for EBD, and (2) students who received Tier 2 interventions (i.e., self-management, help cards) in addition to the CW-FIT intervention. Peer performance for typical peers will also be measured for a sample at each site.

Products: The products of this project will include evidence of the efficacy of CW-FIT for elementary school students, including students with or at risk for EBD, peer-reviewed publications, and presentations.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The research will take place in rural and urban elementary schools in Tennessee, Utah, and Missouri.

Sample: Approximately 18 schools (6 at each site) will participate in this study. Overall, there will be 2,880 students participating across the intervention tiers within 144 general education classrooms. Each general education classroom will have a minimum of two students with or at risk for emotional and behavioral disorders and two peers without disabilities. An additional 18 special education classrooms will also participate, each with a minimum of three students with behavior disorders. Students at risk for behavior disorders are general education students who meet screening criteria using the Systematic Screening for Behavior Disorders. Students with behavior disorders include students with IEPs and/or clinical diagnoses of behavior disorders. Students with dual diagnoses (e.g., behavior disorders/learning disabilities) may also participate if they meet criteria.

Intervention: The intervention is comprised of two programs, a class-wide intervention program and individualized intervention. The class-wide intervention includes teaching appropriate communication skills, eliminating or minimizing all potential social reinforcement for problem behavior, using differential reinforcement of alternative behaviors to strengthen replacement behaviors (e.g., on-task, following instructions), and teaching self-management strategies. Individual intervention procedures for students who are non-responsive to the class-wide intervention will use individualized functional behavior assessment (e.g., interviews, observations) to develop and implement function-based interventions.

Research Design and Methods: A multi-site randomized trial will be used with teachers/classrooms within each school randomly assigned to treatment or comparison groups. For the students who require the individualized program, single-case reversal and multiple baseline designs will be used.

Control Condition: The comparison classrooms will use a business-as-usual approach, but will be provided with additional information to standardize the comparison classes for similar components used in the intervention program (i.e., skill teaching, skill posters). Therefore teachers in comparison groups will spend training time approximately equal to training time for the intervention program teachers.

Key Measures: Class-wide outcome measures include direct observations of class-wide on-task behavior, observations of teacher behavior (e.g., teacher use of praise), and ratings on the Classroom Atmosphere Rating Scale (CARS). CW-FIT fidelity measures will also be administered. Student-level behavior outcome measures include direct observations of student on-task and disruptive behavior, the Classroom Performance Survey to measure students' classroom functioning, and the School Social Behavior Scales to measure students' social competence and anti-social behavior. Student discipline data will also be collected from school reports. Academic measures of students will be district scores available from routine assessments including standardized achievement tests and the state assessments. Class-level means will be collected from school records for CW-FIT and non-CW-FIT classes. Individual scores will be collected for individual students in CW-FIT and non-CW-FIT classes. Curriculum-based measures will be collected on a repeated basis for students receiving the individual-level intervention. Teacher and student satisfaction surveys will measure consumer satisfaction.

Data Analytic Strategy: For the main effects of the class-wide program, analysis of covariance will be used for classroom-level outcomes. Analyses will be conducted addressing intent to treat vs. treatment completers. Multi-level modeling will be used to explore trends over time, including initial treatment effects (within-year) and sustainability over time (multi-year). Visual analysis of the single-case studies will also be conducted.

Project Video:


Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Caldarella, P., Williams, L., Hansen, B.D., and Wills, H.P. (2015). Managing Student Behavior With Class-Wide Function-Related Intervention Teams: An Observational Study in Early Elementary Classrooms. Early Childhood Education Journal, 43(5): 357–365. doi:10.1007/s10643–014–0664–3

Caldarella, P., Williams, L., Jolstead, K., and Wills, H.P. (in press). Managing Student Behavior in an Elementary School Music Classroom: A Study of Class-Wide Function-Related Intervention Teams. Update: Applications of Research in Music Education. doi:10.1177/8755123315626229

Kamps, D., Wills, H., Heitzman-Powell, Laylin, J., Szoke, C., Petrillo, T., and Culey, A. (2011). Class-Wide Function-Related Intervention Teams: Effects of Group Contingency Programs in Urban Classrooms. Journal of Positive Behavioral Interventions, 13(3): 154–167. doi:10.1177/1098300711398935

Kamps, D., Wills., H., Bannister, H., Heitzman-Powell, L., Kottwitz, E., Hansen, B., and Fleming, K. (2015). Class-Wide Function-Related Intervention Teams "CW-FIT" Efficacy Trial Outcomes. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 17(3): 134–145. doi:10.1177/1098300714565244 Full text

Wills, H.P., Iwaszuk, W.M., Kamps, D., and Shumate, E. (2014). CW-FIT: Group Contingency Effects Across the Day. Education and Treatment of Children, 37(2): 191–210. doi:10.1353/etc.2014.0016 Full text