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IES Grant

Title: Middle School Class-wide Function-related Intervention Teams (MS CW-FIT): Improving Academic Engagement and Outcomes for Middle School Students at Risk for Emotional or Behavioral Disorders
Center: NCSER Year: 2016
Principal Investigator: Wills, Howard Awardee: University of Kansas
Program: Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Competence      [Program Details]
Award Period: 3 years (7/1/2016-6/30/2019) Award Amount: $1,499,996
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R324A160279

Co-Principal Investigators: Paul Caldarella (Brigham Young University), Debra Kamps, and Benjamin Mason

Purpose: The purpose of this project is to develop the Middle School Class-wide Function-related Intervention Teams (MS CW-FIT), a multi-tiered, class-wide, positive behavioral group contingency intervention for improving middle school teachers' classroom management practices and students' engagement, behaviors, and academic performance. Effective middle school classroom management is critical because well-managed classrooms create opportunities to learn and foster student engagement, while poorly managed classrooms decrease student learning time and attention. Classroom management is particularly important in middle school where teachers often struggle with managing classrooms and students struggle with disengagement and disruptive behavior. MS CW-FIT will include a Tier 1, universal component that is delivered to all students within a classroom as well as a Tier 2 component (e.g., student self-management) delivered to students needing additional behavioral supports. MS CW-FIT is an adaptation of the elementary school CW-FIT program, which has been evaluated by two IES-supported efficacy trials with evidence of increasing student engagement and decreasing disruptions in elementary school classrooms.

Project Activities: A series of iterative activities will be completed over a 3-year period to develop the components of MS CW-FIT and examine the feasibility of the intervention in middle schools. These activities include soliciting ongoing input and feedback from an advisory board and school focus groups (general and special education teachers, middle school students, and school-based behavioral support personnel). A pilot study will determine the promise of MS CW-FIT for improving middle school teachers' classroom management practices and students' engagement, behaviors, and academic performance. Thirty classrooms, with both target students at risk for behavior disorders and their peers, will be randomly assigned to determine the promise of the intervention for improving outcomes for students with or at risk for disability compared to peer students. Descriptive and single-case design studies will be used to examine the potential impact of Tier 2 interventions on student outcomes. The research team will also investigate whether fidelity of treatment and use of teacher materials predict student outcomes.

Products: The products of this project include a fully developed intervention (MS CW-FIT), peer-reviewed publications, and presentations.

Structured Abstract

Setting: This study will take place in middle schools in Kansas, Missouri, and Utah, with an emphasis on including at least two ethnically and socioeconomically diverse schools in urban settings.

Sample: Teachers and their students in core academic area classes in Grades 6–8 will be eligible for participation. Thirty-five teachers, 20 other school staff (e.g., school psychologists, counselors, social workers and/or administrators), and 40 students will comprise focus groups. Fifteen teachers, 300 typically developing peer students, and 30 students with or at risk for Emotional Behavioral Disorders (EBD) will participate in the first iterative development process; 10 teachers, 200 peer students, and 25 students with or at risk for EBD will participate in the second round of the iterative development process. A minimum of 30 classrooms with 300 peer students and 75 students with or at risk for EBD will participate in the pilot study.

Intervention: The MS CW-FIT intervention is comprised of two components, 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., staying on task, following instructions), and teaching self-management strategies. Tier 2 intervention components for students who are non-responsive to the class-wide intervention include a self-management system (i.e., self-monitoring) and academic help request (e.g., help cards to request assistance from the teacher or peers).

Research Design and Methods: Researchers will first adapt CW-FIT materials based on focus groups of teachers and students, and feedback from a national advisory board. The team will then conduct component trials where teachers briefly implement and evaluate each component separately (e.g., setting expectations) and provide feedback before the research team revises the component and tests it with the next teacher. In Year 2, the research team will conduct a feasibility test where teachers implement and evaluate the entire MS CW-FIT program to prepare the full version for pilot testing. For the pilot study, the researchers will use a cluster randomized controlled trial in which classes serve as the unit of randomization, with students nested within classrooms. In addition, due to the small anticipated number of students likely to need Tier 2 interventions, single-case reversal and multiple baseline designs will be used for students who require Tier 2 interventions.

Control Condition: In the control condition, teachers and their students in those classes will receive business-as-usual instruction, services, and professional development.

Key Measures: The Systematic Screening for Behavior Disorders will be used as a student behavioral screening measure. Class-wide and teacher behavior outcome measures include direct observation of class-wide on-task behavior, student on-task/disruptive behavior, and teacher use of praise and reprimands. The Secondary Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS-Secondary) will be used to measure teacher-student interactions and the Teacher-Student Relationship scale will assess teacher-student relationships from both teacher and student perspectives. Student outcomes will also be measured through a researcher-developed survey on student classroom functioning (such as having materials ready), the School Social Behavior Scales 2nd Edition (student social competence and anti-social behavior), and school records (disciplinary referrals and academic performance). Teacher and student satisfaction with MS CW-FIT will also be assessed via surveys.

Data Analytic Strategy: Descriptive analyses and qualitative content analysis procedures will be used to analyze data gathered from focus groups and component trials. Data from the feasibility test will be analyzed with descriptive statistics, as well as visual inspection. Effect size will also be calculated to quantify the magnitude of change that occurs between baseline and intervention for direct observation (teacher and student) variables. Paired sample t-tests will be used to note changes on pre/post measures. The research team will analyze the pilot data with analysis of variance for classroom-level outcomes and multilevel modeling for students outcomes, with students nested within classrooms. Visual analysis and computation of effect sizes from single-case designs will be used to evaluate Tier 2 interventions.

Related IES Projects: Class-wide Function-Based Intervention Teams: A Research to Practice Agenda for Functional Behavior Assessment (CW: FIT) (R324A070181); 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 (R324A120344)