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IES Grant

Title: Paths 2 the Future for All: College and Career Readiness Intervention
Center: NCER Year: 2017
Principal Investigator: Lindstrom, Lauren Awardee: University of California, Riverside
Program: Social and Behavioral Context for Academic Learning      [Program Details]
Award Period: 3 years (09/01/20178/31/2020) Award Amount: $1,399,817
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R305A170633

Previous Award Number: R305A170025
Previous Institution: University of Oregon

Co-Principal Investigator: John Lind

Purpose: The purpose of this study is to develop, revise, and evaluate the promise of the Paths 2 the Future for All (P2F for All) curriculum package for groups of students who are at higher risk for poor transition outcomes (e.g. those struggling academically, those with behavior referrals). P2F for All will modify an existing curriculum package, Paths 2 the Future, originally designed for girls in high school with high-incidence disabilities. P2F for All will expand this promising curriculum package by developing non-gender specific lessons and activities focused on increasing educational attainment and post-school opportunities for youth facing barriers to graduation from high school. Academic success and graduation from high school are strong predictors of positive adult outcomes. As such, students who are at risk of academic failure and dropping out need targeted educational supports to identify their strengths and develop critical non-cognitive skills (e.g., problem solving, goal setting, coping skills) that will better prepare them for future college, career, and life opportunities. The P2F for All curriculum package will focus on teaching attitudes, behaviors, skills, and strategies that are critical for success in school and later life to ultimately improve these outcomes for this population.

Project Activities: Over the course of this three-year development project, the research team will: (1) conduct focus groups with high school youth, secondary school personnel, and families to inform curriculum package content; (2) modify the P2F for All curriculum components, develop the new non-gender specific teacher training materials and measures; (3) iteratively test and refine the curriculum package in four schools through a using data from assessments of the feasibility and social validity to inform modifications in implementation; (4) assess the promise of the curriculum package to improve students' academic achievement and school engagement though a pilot study; and (5) develop a final iteration of the P2F for All curriculum package and disseminate findings. For the pilot study, researchers will conduct a small multi-site randomized controlled trial, randomizing students to intervention or control, to assess the promise of efficacy of P2F for All on the transition outcomes of secondary students identified as at risk of academic failure and dropping out.

Products: The products from this project will include the fully-developed P2F for All curriculum package including teacher training materials, a website with resources to support implementation, and student materials. In addition, products will include peer-reviewed publications and presentations.

Structured Abstract

Setting: This study will take place in eight high schools, including a Charter School serving at-risk youth, rural, suburban, and urban settings in Oregon and California.

Sample: The sample will include 220 students in Grades 9 through 12 who are identified as at risk for academic failure and dropping-out. Sixty of these students will participate in the iterative development activities and an additional 160 will participate in the pilot study.

Intervention: The fully developed version of P2F for All will build on and extend the already developed framework of Paths 2 the Future curriculum package. P2F for All will be designed as a sequential set of lessons and will include lesson plans, worksheets, and handouts for three modules including: (1) self-awareness and future selves, (2) communication and coping skills, and (3) career and college readiness. The lessons will be designed to be taught within a group/classroom setting in 50-minute class periods over an academic term, usually an 18-week semester. The fully-developed lessons will include learning objectives, vocabulary, list of materials needed, core activities and supplemental resources. The completed curriculum package will include a teacher manual, lesson plans, and teacher training materials and additional background information about curriculum content, a glossary of key terms, student workbooks, videos and online resources to support implementation.

Research Design and Methods: This study will utilize a mixed-methods design across two phases. Phase I (Years 1 & 2) will focus on an iterative intervention development-revision process informed by three studies. In Study 1, the researchers will hold stakeholder focus groups with high school youth, secondary school personnel, and families to identify and validate barriers and facilitators to academic achievement and school engagement. Results will inform scope and sequence, curricular components, and strategies for the target population. In Study 2, the team will test the curriculum components and measurement package for P2F for All through a design experiment completed with teachers from 3 of the high schools). In Study 3, they will complete a pre-post study and additional focus groups with teachers who delivered P2F for All and (2) 60 high school youth who were exposed to P2F for All. These focus groups will provide information on the usability and feasibility of the P2F for All intervention in an authentic education setting. In Phase II (Year 3), the researchers will complete a pilot study to provide evidence of promise. In Study 4 (the pilot study), eight high schools will participate in a randomized controlled trial in which 160 students are randomly assigned to treatment or control groups.

Control Condition: For the pilot study, students in the control group will participate in typical career and college planning services or business-as-usual services (e.g., drop-in career centers, drop-in guidance counselors, drop-in advisory period, career and technical education courses).

Key Measures: The research team will use a set of measures to track changes in the career knowledge and skills of students (proximal outcomes) aligned with the P2F for All curriculum modules, pre- and post-participation. The proximal outcomes include: (1) self-awareness and future-selves measured by the Possible Selves Questionnaire; (2) communication and coping measured by Arc's Self-Determination scale and the Brief COPE; and (3) career and college readiness measured by the Career Outcome Expectancy Scale and the Vocational Skills Self-Efficacy tool. Distal student outcomes include: (1) school achievement measured by the School Archival Records Search, which provides an overall profile of students' educational performance; (2) student school engagement measured by the School Engagement Instrument; and (3) behavior measured by the Social Skills Improvement System Rating Scale. Fidelity will be assessed through observations of both intervention and control groups to determine what related services are provided. Additional data will be collected though focus groups to identify the organizational supports and procedures needed for sufficient implementation of the core components of the intervention.

Data Analytic Strategy: The research team will analyze data from the focus groups (Studies 1 and 3) by summarizing findings and utilizing cross-case data analysis to compare and contrast findings both within and across participant groups. Researchers will derive data from the design experiment (Study 2) by summarizing and comparing observations, ratings, and comments collected on each class session within and across classrooms. In addition, the research team will conduct an analysis of variance on each measure to compare pretest-posttest differences and analyze student outcome data collected for the pilot study (Study 4) using analysis of covariance adjusting for clustering. The team will treat any student characteristics or other variables on which groups significantly differ as covariates in the impact analyses. To examine effects of implementation fidelity, researchers will conduct a within-group analysis of the intervention condition.

Related Projects:
Paths 2 the Future: Testing the Efficacy of a Career Development Intervention for High School Girls with Disabilities (R324A150046)
Project: PATHS (Postschool Achievement Through Higher Skills) (R324B070038)