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IES Grant

Title: Development of a Web-Based Integrated Behavior Support and Teacher Coaching System for Early Childhood Settings
Center: NCSER Year: 2018
Principal Investigator: Spaulding, Scott Awardee: University of Washington
Program: Early Intervention and Early Learning      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (9/1/2018-8/31/2022) Award Amount: $1,400,000
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R324A180061

Co-Principal Investigator: Meeker, Kathleen

Purpose: The purpose of this project is to develop and test a collaborative, web-based tool to improve early childhood teachers' implementation of interventions for children with or at risk for emotional or behavioral disorders (EBD). Despite the development of multi-tiered systems of supports and evidence for the efficacy of positive behavior supports and function-based interventions (aimed at preventing and reducing challenging behavior), many early childhood programs lack the capacity to implement intensive interventions (tier 3) with fidelity. Further, many behavior support programs fail to consider the role of families in the individualized behavior support process. In this project, the research team will modify and expand the existing technology, as well as extend its application from its original design for K-8 classrooms to be appropriate for early childhood settings. This new intervention, the Integrated Behavior Support and Teacher Coaching System for Early Childhood Settings (ibestt-EC), will combine professional development with behavioral coaching and family collaboration to increase early childhood teachers' ability to improve behavioral outcomes for children with or at risk for EBD.

Project Activities: The project will iteratively develop and test ibestt-EC across 4 years. In the first year, the research team will solicit feedback from early childhood practitioners and families through focus groups and workshops and use their feedback to revise the existing technology. The revised intervention will be field tested to evaluate teacher fidelity of implementation in early childhood classrooms in the second year. In the third year, the team will create professional development materials to support teachers in intervention implementation. In the fourth year, the research team will assess the promise of the intervention through a series of single-case design studies.

Products: This project will produce a fully developed, web-based intervention, ibestt-EC,toimprove teacher implementation of intensive behavioral interventions in early childhood settings. Products will also include peer reviewed publications and presentations.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The study will take place in early childhood centers in urban and suburban areas of Washington state.

Sample: In Years 1-3, feedback on the intervention will be gathered from approximately 15 to 20 early childhood educators, 10 content experts in behavior support and early learning, and 10 parents or caregivers of young children who have received behavior supports. Participants in the Year 4 pilot study will include 6 teacher-coach dyads, 12 children (ages 3 to 6) with or at risk for behavior disorders, and their parents.

Intervention: The intervention, ibestt-EC, will be developed based on an existing web-based technology designed for K-8 school settings. Modifications will include adding a family component, improving the coaching structure, and tailoring practices for early childhood classrooms. The intervention is designed to promote the use of effective behavior supports by helping teams plan and document interventions, use data to make decisions, and coordinate communication among staff and families. The intervention coordinates each of the following steps in the behavior support process: (1) teachers and families agree to submit a request for assistance with child behavior and a coach (i.e., a teacher or behavior specialist within the school or district) is assigned to meet with the teacher and/or family member; (2) the coach, teacher, and family member collaboratively review the need and implement classroom-level strategies to address the behavior; (3) if classroom-level strategies are insufficient, a functional assessment is conducted; (4) teachers, coaches, and family members develop support plans based on the findings from the functional assessment; (5) the support plan is implemented and coaches provide feedback on implementation fidelity using the coaching protocol provided in ibestt -EC; (6) the child's response to the intervention is documented in ibestt -EC, progress is reviewed by coaches and ongoing support is provided, and interventions are revised to meet the child's needs. In addition, the intervention will also include text- and video-based professional development resources on how to use the technology and design and implement behavior intervention plans.

Research Design and Methods: The project will use an iterative, mixed-methods approach to develop and test ibestt-EC over the course of 4 years. In Year 1, the team will gather perspectives from stakeholders regarding key issues in individual student behavior support through workshops with early childhood practitioners and focus groups with families. In addition, the research team will modify the existing software to fit the early childhood context. In Year 2, the modified tool will be implemented by teachers to examine the usability and feasibility of the technology. Researchers will observe classrooms and schools to check fidelity of teacher implementation of practices and school-wide implementation of tier 3 (intensive) intervention. Qualitative feedback will also be obtained through surveys of teachers and content experts. Year 3 will focus on the development of professional development materials with content experts working with production experts to create the online content. In Year 4, the pilot study will use a multiple-baseline single-case design with six coach-teacher dyads in order to evaluate the effects of ibestt-EC on coach practice, teacher practice, and child outcomes.

Control Condition: In the single-case design studies, each participant will serve as his or her own control.

Key Measures: Qualitative data from focus groups and open-ended survey items will be used to inform intervention revisions. To assess teacher outcomes, the research team will use the Teaching Pyramid Observation Tool to assess classroom quality and teacher implementation of practices, and the Schoolwide PBIS Tiered Fidelity Inventory to measure school-wide tier 3 implementation. Child outcome measures will include the Behavior Assessment System for Children–Second Edition and the Social Skills Improvement System (SSIS) Rating Scales. Researcher-developed measures will be used to assess fidelity of coaching and teachers' intervention implementation. To evaluate intervention acceptability, the Intervention Rating Profile — 15, the Student Assistance Team Attitude Scale, and parent interviews will be used.

Data Analytic Strategy: Qualitative data from focus groups and workshops will be transcribed and analyzed to identify key themes and elements of the behavior support process. Ratings and assessments from the field test will be summarized descriptively. For the single-case design studies, visual and statistical (effect size) analysis will be used to determine whether ibestt-EC demonstrates promise for improving teacher and child outcomes.