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IES Grant

Title: Promoting School Readiness Through Emotional Intelligence: An Efficacy Trial of Preschool RULER
Center: NCER Year: 2018
Principal Investigator: Bailey, Craig Awardee: Yale University
Program: Early Learning Programs and Policies      [Program Details]
Award Period: 5 years (07/01/2018 - 06/30/2023) Award Amount: $3,263,909
Type: Efficacy and Replication Award Number: R305A180293

Co-Principal Investigator: Brackett, Marc; Mashburn, Andrew; Tominey, Shauna

Purpose: The purpose of this study is to evaluate the efficacy of Preschool RULER, a social emotional skills intervention developed with funding from IES. Developing strong social and emotional skills (SE skills) in early childhood is foundational for social and academic success. Researchers will implement the intervention and investigate the impact of Preschool RULER on children's academic and social emotional skills as well as teacher/classroom- and school leader/school-level outcomes. Findings will provide evidence as to the efficacy of Preschool RULER and move the field toward a better understanding of high quality early childhood interventions that promote school readiness.

Project Activities: The research team will evaluate the effects of Preschool RULER on children's academic and social emotional skills, the SE skills and practices of school leaders and teachers, and school and classroom climate. They will recruit and randomly assign 72 early childhood programs to treatment and waitlist control conditions. School leaders and teachers will receive training and support to improve their own SE skills and implement the intervention to improve school and classroom climate and child outcomes. Researchers will collect data from school leaders and teachers, conduct classroom observations, and assess two cohorts of children to evaluate impacts of the intervention. They will also conduct a cost study.

Products: Researchers will produce evidence of the efficacy of the Preschool RULER intervention to improve children's social emotional and academic skills, and produce peer-reviewed publications.

Structured Abstract

Setting: This study will take place in 72 early childhood centers within six school districts in urban areas in Connecticut. Early childhood centers include independent state-funded pre-kindergarten programs, Head Start-funded programs, private nonprofit programs, and private for-profit programs.

Sample: The sample includes 72 early childhood centers and 216 classrooms. Study participants include approximately 1,800 staff and 2,160 racially and ethnically diverse children.

Intervention: Preschool RULER (Recognizing, Understanding, Labeling, Expressing, and Regulating Emotions), uses a two-generational, whole-school approach to promote school leader, teacher, and child social emotional skills. RULER Implementation Teams (school leaders and teachers) receive training and support to implement RULER practices and processes in their school through specific tasks, continuous professional development, and shifts in leadership, policies, and school climate. Teachers receive training and support to improve their own social emotional skills and implement RULER program components in their classrooms.

Research Design and Methods: Researchers will use a two cohort design to conduct a cluster randomized trial. The research team will recruit and randomly assign schools to intervention and waitlist control groups. Each intervention cohort will implement Preschool RULER across two academic years. For Cohort 1, school leaders will receive training to implement Preschool RULER in Year 1 and teachers will implement the classroom-level practices in Year 2. For Cohort 2, school leaders will implement the intervention in Year 3 and teachers will implement classroom-level practices in Year 4. For each intervention cohort, researchers will collect child assessment data in preschool (Cohort 1/Year 2; Cohort 2/Year 3) and kindergarten (Cohort 1/Year 3 and Cohort 2/Year 4). Schools in the waitlist comparison group will receive Preschool RULER in Years 4 (Cohort 1 waitlist comparison group) and 5 (Cohort 2 waitlist comparison group). In Year 1, the research team will recruit and consent school staff and ask staff to complete a needs assessment to provide school demographic information, data for the cost analysis, document current social emotional learning curricula and practice, and assess readiness to implement an intervention. In Years 2 and 3, the researchers will collect data in fall and spring of each implementation year and train school leaders and teachers to implement Preschool RULER. In Years 3 (Cohort 1) and 4 (Cohort 2), the research team will follow each cohort of children into kindergarten and collect data from kindergarten teachers. In Years 4 and 5, teachers will complete questionnaires and school leaders will respond to surveys, and the research team will follow the waitlist control group into kindergarten. In Year 5, the researchers will conduct analyses to evaluate the efficacy of Preschool RULER and disseminate the findings.

Control Condition: The waitlist control group of school leaders and teachers will conduct business as usual practices during each Preschool RULER implementation year and receive access to Preschool RULER materials and resources the following year.

Key Measures: Outcomes of interest include children's social emotional skills, approaches to learning, and literacy and math skills, educator and school leader SE skills, emotionally intelligent pedagogy and leadership, and classroom climate and school climate. Primary measures include standardized direct child assessments of children's academic and social emotional skills (e.g., Affect Knowledge Test, Emotional Matching Task, and subtests of the Woodcock-Johnson III Test of Achievement), classroom observations (Classroom Assessment Scoring System), teacher report of child outcomes (Social Skills Improvement System-Rating Scale and the Preschool Learning Behaviors Scale), school leader and teacher questionnaires, and measures of fidelity of implementation.

Data Analytic Strategy: Researchers will use hierarchical linear modeling to analyze study data. They will conduct multilevel analyses to evaluate the impact of Preschool RULER in pre-kindergarten and kindergarten. They will also conduct analyses to examine factors that moderate associations between access to Preschool RULER and proximal and distal outcomes to determine what works and for whom.

Related IES Projects:
Improving School Readiness with Emotional Literacy: Developing the RULER Preschool Program (R305A120172)
Examining the Efficacy of RULER on School Climate, Teacher Well-being, Classroom Climate, and Student Outcomes (R305A180326)