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IES Grant

Title: Evaluation of We Have Choices, an Upper-Elementary Self-Management Program
Center: NCER Year: 2019
Principal Investigator: Smolkowski, Keith Awardee: Oregon Research Institute
Program: Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Context for Teaching and Learning      [Program Details]
Award Period: 5 years (07/01/2019 - 06/30/2024) Award Amount: $3,298,625
Type: Efficacy Award Number: R305A190478

Purpose: The purpose of this study is to determine the efficacy of the We Have Choices (WHC) program, which was initially developed with IES funding. WHC teaches students specific skills associated with academic success and gradually transfers management of those skills from teachers to students. Universal materials focus on explicit instruction in the skills for all students with an emphasis on practice and additional supports for those who struggle to learn the skills.

Project Activities: The research team will test the efficacy of the WHC program using a cluster randomized controlled trial whereby they will recruit and assign classrooms to condition (WHC or business as usual) in four cohorts. They will collect data from participating teachers and students in each cohort in the 4th grade and then follow the students into 5th grade.

Products: Products of this project include information about the impact of We Have Choices on 4th grade students' academic behaviors, self-management skills, and academic achievement and whether those effects persist into 5th grade; 4th grade teachers' self-efficacy and stress; and the costs and cost-effectiveness of the program. The research team will also produce peer-reviewed publications, reports for practitioners, and a final data set to be shared according to the IES Public Access Policy.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The setting for this study is 4th and 5th grade classrooms located in a wide variety of schools (rural to urban) in Washington, Oregon, and California.

Sample: The sample will include about 80 schools, 160 teachers, and 3200 students.

Intervention: WHC teaches academic behaviors, social skills, perseverance, and learning strategies using instructional videos and lesson plans, a self-monitoring tool used to promote student success, and curriculum-based screening and progress-monitoring. The program frames academic behaviors and self-management as skillsthat each student can learn through practice, emphasizing a growth mindset throughout the lessons. The defining feature of WHC is the gradual and systematic transfer of behavior management tasks from teacher to student, a central premise of self-management identified as critical yet often lacking in social skills programs.

Research Design and Methods: Project staff will recruit and assign classrooms to condition (WHC or business as usual) in four cohorts, one cohort each school year. Teachers randomly assigned to implement WHC will spend about 45 minutes per week for 9 weeks on initial WHC instruction and embed practice of new skills in other classroom activities. For struggling students, teachers can provide additional supports with a student action-planning tool. The research team will assess students in the fall and spring of 4th grade and again in winter of 5th grade with both teacher- and self-report measures; observe classrooms twice while students are in 4th grade; collect teacher self-reports of stress and self-efficacy in the fall and spring of 4th grade; collect social-emotional learning and self-management program-use data across the year; and collect records from schools in the spring of students' 4th grade year.

Control Condition: Teachers assigned to the business-as-usual control condition will teach their children as they normally do and will receive access to WHC in the next school year.

Key Measures: Teachers will rate students' social skills, academic behaviors, and academic performance. Students will also complete self-reports about self-management skills and social-emotional behavior. The research team will ask teachers about their self-efficacy and stress as well as general and specific fidelity related to WHC and any other social-emotional learning programs they use. Finally, the research team will collect standardized test scores for reading and math (Smarter Balanced Assessments) and student grade point averages at the end of 4th and 5th grade.

Data Analytic Strategy: The research team will conduct multilevel analyses of covariance that account for repeated measurements of individuals across time, students clustered in classrooms, and classrooms nested within schools. They will test whether pretest performance on student outcomes, such as academic behaviors and self-management skills, moderate the impact of WHC. They will also examine English learner status to determine whether language proficiency may be a barrier for skills instruction delivered by WHC. Within the intervention condition, the research team will examine how implementation predicts student academic and behavioral outcomes to supplement results about the efficacy of WHC.

Cost and Cost-Effectiveness Analysis: The research team will assess direct costs and indirect opportunity costs of WHC. They will isolate fixed and marginal costs and discount costs as necessary to arrive at an estimate associated with a single school year. They will then assess total versus net costs, where net costs include only those costs beyond the status quo. Finally, the research team will perform a sensitivity analysis to test assumptions and potentially variable cost estimates. They will estimate a cost-effectiveness ratio for multiple effectiveness indices to ease comparisons with studies that evaluate only a subset of the outcomes in this study.

Related IES Projects: Online Teacher Training: Promoting Student Social Competence to Improve Academic and Behavioral Outcomes in Grades K-3 (R324A080150)