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IES Grant

Title: Efficacy of Paraprofessional Behavior Support Coaching for Elementary School Students with Externalizing Behavior Disorders
Center: NCSER Year: 2017
Principal Investigator: Reddy, Linda Awardee: Rutgers University
Program: Professional Development for Educators and School-Based Service Providers      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (7/1/2017-6/30/2021) Award Amount: $3,299,279
Goal: Efficacy and Replication Award Number: R324A170069
Description:

Co-Principal Investigator: Todd Glover

Purpose: The purpose of this project is to test the efficacy of the Behavior Support Coaching for Paraprofessionals (BSC-P) model for improving classroom intervention practices and behavioral and academic outcomes for elementary school students with or at risk for externalizing behavior disorders. Although paraprofessionals play a substantial role in providing classroom-based behavioral interventions for students, they often receive very little training or job-embedded support in behavior management. Given the challenges of providing adequate support to students with externalizing behavior disorders and their risk for negative outcomes (e.g., poor academic performance, drop-out, juvenile delinquency), there is a significant need to identify effective models for supporting these students and the professionals who work with them. Thus, the purpose of the current project is to test the efficacy of the BSC-P coaching model for supporting paraprofessionals in the implementation of data-driven intervention supports and subsequently improving the behavioral and academic outcomes of students with or at risk for externalizing behavior disorders.

Project Activities: The researchers will conduct a randomized control trial to test the impact of the BSC-P coaching model on paraprofessionals and their students with or at risk for externalizing behavior disorders. Paraprofessionals will receive training and coaching on how to screen students for academic or behavioral difficulties, identify students' behavioral needs, match students' needs to research-based interventions, and monitor students' response to intervention. The researchers will examine the impact of the BSC-P coaching model on paraprofessional and student outcomes; potential moderating effects of coaching fidelity, paraprofessional-teacher relationship, and coaching acceptability on improvements in paraprofessional practices; and potential mediating effects of paraprofessional practices and teacher behavior management practices on the impact of the BSC-P coaching model on student outcomes.

Products: Products include evidence for the efficacy of the BSC-P coaching model for improving paraprofessional practices and subsequent student behavioral and academic outcomes; peer-reviewed publications; and presentations.

Structured Abstract

Setting: This project will be conducted in elementary schools in urban (high and low poverty) and suburban areas of New Jersey.

Sample: Approximately 240 paraprofessionals and 720 students with or at risk for externalizing behavior disorders from 80 schools (approximately 3 paraprofessionals per school and 3 students per paraprofessional) will participate in this research. Each paraprofessional's corresponding classroom teacher will also participate for a total of 240 teachers.

Intervention: The BSC-P coaching model is based on a behavioral consultation framework utilized in school settings. It begins with an initial full-day training workshop provided to all participating paraprofessionals and their teachers on (a) the importance of early intervention for students with or at risk for externalizing behavior disorders; (b) the use of behavioral data to identify students' needs for behavioral supports; and (c) the application of class-wide behavioral interventions to support all students. Ongoing coaching is then provided using a protocol to guide classroom teachers in making data-driven behavioral management decisions and paraprofessionals in providing research-based interventions (i.e., acquisition intervention strategies, attention seeking/reinforcement intervention strategies, escape intervention strategies, and generalization intervention strategies) to students. The coaching protocol is used to guide the classroom teachers and paraprofessionals through the following five phases: (1) analyzing data to identify students' behavioral needs; (2) considering mechanisms responsible for the identified needs; (3) conceptualizing a plan of action for achieving measureable goals; (4) implementing research-based behavioral interventions; and (5) evaluating progress toward goal attainment. Coaching occurs over the course of the school year via eight 45-minute primary sessions and individual follow-up sessions with paraprofessionals every 6 weeks. Paraprofessionals and their corresponding classroom teachers will both participate in the initial three phases and the last phase. The remaining sessions are conducted individually with each paraprofessional.

Research Design and Methods: The research team will use a three-cohort randomized controlled trial in which schools serve as the unit of randomization. Schools will be randomly assigned to receive BSC-P or a business-as-usual control condition. Data collection will be completed at three time points (baseline, midpoint, and post-intervention) to examine the efficacy of the intervention for improving paraprofessional practices and student outcomes. They will also examine variables that may moderate impacts on paraprofessional practices (e.g., coaching fidelity, paraprofessional-teacher relationship, coaching acceptability, improvements in paraprofessional practices) and potential mediating effects of paraprofessional practices and teacher behavior management practices on the impact of the BSC-P coaching model on student outcomes.

Control Condition: Schools assigned to the waitlist control condition will engage in business-as-usual practices for assisting paraprofessionals and teachers in implementing behavioral support practices for students with or at risk for externalizing behavior disorders. Paraprofessionals and teachers in schools assigned to the control condition will receive the intervention after the study ends.

Key Measures: Multiple measures will be used to assess paraprofessional and student outcomes, and potential mediating and moderating variables. The Behavioral and Emotional Screen System–3 will be used as a behavioral screener to determine students' risk for externalizing behavior disorders. Paraprofessional outcomes will include their level of behavioral intervention practices (i.e., combination of dosage and adherence to behavioral intervention protocols) as measured through self-report checklists and online logging in a coaching facilitation platform. Student outcomes will be measured in several areas. Students' level of disruptive behaviors will be measured using the Behavior Assessment System for Children 3 and direct observation of students' classroom behaviors will be measured using the Behavioral Observation System in Schools. Students' social-emotional functioning will be measured using the Social Skills Improvement System. Students' academic achievement will be measured with the Woodcock Johnson IV Tests of Achievement for reading and math and the Social Skills Improvement System Academic Competence Scale. Mediating variables include paraprofessional practices as described above and teachers' classroom behavioral management practices, which will be measured through classroom observations using the Classroom Strategies Assessment System. Potential moderating variables include coaching fidelity, coaching acceptability, and paraprofessional-teacher relationship. Coaching fidelity will be coded from audio recordings of each coaching session and logs recording the time, duration, format, and foci of coaching sessions. Coaching acceptability will be measured using paraprofessional reports on the Usage Rating Profile Index Revised. The paraprofessional-teacher relationship will be measured using paraprofessional reports.

Data Analytic Strategy: The research team will use multilevel modeling to evaluate the impact of the BSC-P coaching model on paraprofessionals' practices and students' academic and behavioral outcomes and to explore moderating and mediating effects. Multilevel models will account for the nesting of students within paraprofessionals/teachers, and paraprofessionals/teachers within schools.


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