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IES Grant

Title: Coping Power for Rural Middle Schoolers: A Tiered Approach to Increasing Behavioral and Mental Health Supports and Reducing Disparities
Center: NCER Year: 2019
Principal Investigator: Bradshaw, Catherine Awardee: University of Virginia
Program: Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Context for Teaching and Learning      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (07/01/2019 - 06/30/2023) Award Amount: $1,399,768
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R305A190116

Co-Principal Investigators: Nguyen, Amanda; Hersh, Jacqueline R.

Purpose: The purpose of this project is to develop, refine, and pilot test a rural adaptation of the Early Adolescent Coping Power (EACP) program so that it adequately addresses behavioral and mental health problems among rural middle schoolers. The Rural-EACP will address the cultural and contextual challenges of providing appropriate supports to help youth with aggressive behavior challenges in rural settings.

Project Activities: Through an iterative process, researchers at the University of Virginia and Appalachian State University will work with rural middle schools to adapt the EACP to the rural context, evaluate program feasibility, and determine its promise and cost for reducing behavioral and mental health problems and improving engagement and academic achievement for rural youth. The planned adaptation is to design a universal component that all students would receive, and then a more intensive version that more closely adheres to the original EACP delivery model for students who need additional supports.

Products: Products will include the Rural-EACP program training and coaching manual, session plans and materials, fidelity monitoring forms, and a one-year implementation plan. Dissemination products include peer-reviewed manuscripts, national and regional presentations, and reports for practitioners including information about the relative cost of implementing Rural-EACP as a universal plus indicated program versus an indicated program only.

Structured Abstract

Setting: This study will take place in rural middle schools in Virginia and North Carolina.

Sample: The participating sample includes students and teachers in sixth and seventh grade, parents of students identified with higher or "indicated" risk for aggressive behavior, and clinicians. In Year 1, about six classrooms across five schools will be involved in iterative development activities. In Years 2 and 3, about 24 classrooms across five different schools will participate in feasibility testing and further modifications. In Year 4, approximately 60 classrooms across 10 new schools will participate in the pilot randomized control trial (RCT).

Intervention: The Early Adolescent Coping Power Program (EACP) is a multi-component program for youth, parents, and teachers that targets processes within the student and family associated with aggressive behavior and academic problems. EACP was developed to be an "indicated" prevention program in the multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS) framework for middle school-aged youth showing signs of aggressive behavior problems. Adapted from the original Coping Power program developed for elementary students, EACP includes clinician-facilitated group sessions for youth focused on social-cognitive and emotional skill building, separate groups for parents focused on managing child behaviors, and support to teachers. The Rural-EACP program will include modified content to ensure relevance to a rural population; a two-tiered (universal classroom + indicated pull-out) delivery format to expand the reach down to all students and teachers; a more flexible, technology-enhanced parent component; integrated teacher coaching; and expanded content to address co-occurring problems such as drug use and internalizing problems.

Research Design and Methods: In Year 1, the researchers will develop Rural-EACP using the ADDIE (Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation) instructional design model. In Years 2 and 3, they will refine the rural adaptation of EACP and test its feasibility in middle school classrooms. The researchers will conduct focus groups and interviews with students, teachers, administrators, and parents and solicit input from subject matter experts and practitioners to ensure relevance, feasibility, and acceptability. In Year 4, they will conduct a classroom-level, under-powered RCT with the indicated pull-out program for students screened eligible in the intervention classrooms. The researchers will randomly assign classrooms at the grade level within each school to Rural-EACP or control, blocking on school, so that the universal and indicated program draws from a single grade level within each school, balancing across the full sample of schools.

Control Condition: Classrooms randomly assigned to the control condition will continue with their typical activities.

Key Measures: The research team will assess fidelity, feasibility, and acceptability, and track costs. They will assess student engagement and behavioral and mental health problems using the Teacher Observation of Classroom Adaptation-Checklist (TOCA-C), the student-report Maryland Safe and Supportive Schools (MDS3) School Climate Survey, the ASSIST (Assessing School Settings: Interactions of Students and Teachers), the Behavior Assessment System for Children (BASC-2, teacher and child report), and school records of disciplinary incidents, attendance, and academic performance.

Data Analytic Strategy: The researchers will conduct descriptive and pre-post analyses on all measures. They will conduct repeated measures analyses in a multilevel modeling framework to account for clustering at the school and classroom levels; however, given the relatively small number of classrooms and schools, and the underpowered design, such clustering will be considered as part of a sensitivity analysis.

Cost Analysis: The research team will track costs associated with the Rural-EACP program (implementation, coaching, training, materials, existing school staff time, and travel) using fidelity, interview, and coach log data to produce a full cost analysis for each program component (classroom, pull-out, teacher coaching, and parent).

Related IES Projects: Testing the Efficacy of a Developmentally Informed Coping Power Program in Middle Schools (R305A140070); The National Center for Rural School Mental Health (NCRSMH): Enhancing the Capacity of Rural Schools to Identify, Prevent, and Intervene in Youth Mental Health Concerns (R305C190014); An Integrative Data Analysis of the Coping Power Program: Exploration of Academic Outcomes, Subgroup Effects, Mechanisms, and Implementation Factors (R305A220244)