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IES Grant

Title: Efficacy of Enhanced First Step to Success Intervention for Tertiary-Level Students with Disruptive Behavior
Center: NCSER Year: 2015
Principal Investigator: Frey, Andy Awardee: University of Louisville
Program: Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Competence      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (7/1/2015–6/30/2019) Award Amount: $3,497,001
Type: Efficacy and Replication Award Number: R324A150179

Co-Principal Investigator: John Seeley (Oregon Research Institute)

Purpose: The purpose of this project is to examine the efficacy of the Tertiary First Step to Success (TFS) intervention for improving social, behavioral, and academic outcomes of students in kindergarten through Grade 3 with or at risk for developing severe behavior disorders. TFS includes classroom and home components implemented with the children, their parents, and their teachers. Research has shown that children's home experiences are linked to their mental health and educational success, particularly parenting practices at home that support children's adjustment to the social and educational demands of school. TFS has demonstrated promise for improving behavior and education outcomes for students in this age range with severe problem behaviors, but the efficacy of the intervention has not yet been tested.

Project Activities: In each year of the study, 16 schools will be recruited (64 total) to participate. From within each school, six to seven teachers will be recruited and randomly assigned to one of four conditions: (a) home-only component, (b) school-only component, (c) school-plus-home component, and (d) usual care. In the fall of each year, teachers in each participating classroom will identify students who exhibit serious externalizing behaviors. The student identified with the most significant behavior problem will be recruited to participate. The design will result in 100 teacher–student dyads in each condition. Baseline data collection will be completed prior to randomization and outcome assessments will be conducted immediately after completion of the intervention as well as 6 months post intervention.

Products: The products of this project will result in evidence of the efficacy of the TFS program for students in kindergarten through Grade 3 with or at risk for developing severe behavior disorders. They will also include peer-reviewed publications and presentations.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The research will take place in elementary schools in Kentucky and Indiana.

Sample: A total 400 students (from 64 schools) with or at risk for developing severe behavior disorders in kindergarten through third grade, and their teachers and parents, will participate.

Intervention: Tertiary First Step to Success is based on the First Step to Success early intervention program developed for use with students in early elementary grades with behavior problems. First Step to Success consists of three components, to which an enhanced home component developed with IES funding, called Tertiary homeBase, was added. In the first component, universal screening, teachers screen all students to identify those with the most significant behavior problems. In the second component, the classroom intervention, a trained behavior coach works with participating students and their classroom peers, teachers, and parents over a 3-month period to teach appropriate social skills and behaviors. The third component of the original program, a parent education component called HomeBase, consists of a series of six weekly lessons in the home designed to enable parents and caregivers to build child competencies and skills in areas that affect school adjustment and performance (e.g., sharing at school, cooperation, limit setting, problem solving, making friends, and developing confidence). Tertiary homeBase differs from the original home module because (1) content is individualized for each family instead of implementing a standard parent education curriculum, (2) Motivational Interviewing (MI) strategies are infused into the intervention procedures, and (3) the coach's use of MI skills is a critical feature of implementation fidelity. The enhancements were designed to more effectively engage parents in the intervention process and to positively alter parental motivation, efficacy, and competency in improving their child's behavioral and academic competence.

Research Design and Methods: This randomized controlled trial uses a 2 x 2 factorial design in which the research team will vary the level of two factors — the school module and the new home module. This will result in three intervention conditions (school-only module, home-only module, school-plus-home module) and one control condition (usual care). A total of 400 teacher–student dyads across two states will be randomly assigned to conditions (100 per condition). Analyses will examine whether the school-plus-home combination module has a greater impact than either singular module alone, the school module has a greater impact than the home module, and all intervention conditions show improved child outcomes over the control condition.

Control Condition: Teacher–student dyads, and the students' parents, in the usual care condition will receive instruction and services typically provided by the elementary schools.

Key Measures: Child outcomes measures of behavior include the Social Skills Improvement System (SSiS-RS) and the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL). Child academic outcomes include the SSiS-RS Academic Competence subscale, and Academic Engaged Time (AET). Office disciplinary referrals will be recorded and the School Archival Records Search will be used, which provides a template for the systematic coding, analysis, and aggregation of data from archival school records. Moderator and mediator measures will include teacher demographics, family reports on student and family demographics, services received, and parent/family stressors. A variety of measures will also be used to assess coach–parent relationship quality and coach–teacher relationship quality.

Data Analytic Strategy: A mixed-model analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) approach will be used to examine differences between groups at two time points on outcome, process, and social validity measures. For analysis of data collected at more than two time points, such as the estimation of maintenance of intervention effects at the within-year follow-up and 6-month follow-up assessments, random coefficient models (RCA), an extension of the mixed-model ANCOVA, will be used. Both mixed-model ANCOVA and RCA account for the nesting of classrooms within buildings.

Related IES Projects: Enhanced First Step to Success: Improving School Readiness for Children with Disruptive Behavior (R324A090237)