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IES Grant

Title: Efficacy of the Students with Involved Families and Teachers (SWIFT) Program for Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders
Center: NCSER Year: 2019
Principal Investigator: Buchanan, Rohanna Awardee: Oregon Social Learning Center
Program: Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Competence      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (07/01/2019—06/30/2024) Award Amount: $3,298,313
Type: Efficacy Award Number: R324A190122

Purpose: The purpose of this study is to evaluate the efficacy of the Students with Involved Families and Teachers (SWIFT) program for improving student school adjustment for students with emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD) as well as parent involvement in schools. Transitions are commonplace for students with EBD who may move between special education classrooms and programs within schools as well as to and from various placements such as day-treatment centers and residential facilities. Such transitions can be a source of added stress and lead to increased behavioral problems and little research is available on effective intervention programs to help students during these transitions. SWIFT is a multi-component intervention designed to address the social and behavioral needs of students with EBD when they are transitioning between school placements or before a transition if they are at risk of placement in more restrictive and costly settings. SWIFT was developed with previous IES funding to promote successful student transitions from treatment settings to neighborhood middle schools. SWIFT demonstrated feasibility of implementation in middle school settings as well as promise for improving students' school adjustment, school stability, home-school communication, and the use of positive parenting practices, but the efficacy of the intervention has not yet been tested. This study will examine the efficacy of SWIFT for improving student school adjustment for students with EBD, and parent involvement in school, and whether the effects are mediated by improved student social emotional skills and improved parenting behaviors.

Project Activities: The research team will evaluate the efficacy of SWIFT using a randomized controlled trial. Four cohorts of students and their families will be randomly assigned to the SWIFT intervention or services as usual comparison condition. Data will be collected before the intervention starts (baseline), 6 months post-baseline, 12 months post-baseline, and 18 months post-baseline. Researchers will analyze data to determine the effects of SWIFT on student and family outcomes, mediators and moderators of these effects, and the costs and cost-effectiveness of the intervention.

Products: This project will provide evidence of the efficacy of SWIFT for improving student social-emotional skills for students with EBD, school adjustment, home-school communication, and parenting behavior. The project will result in a final dataset to be shared, peer-reviewed publications and presentations, and additional dissemination products that reach education stakeholders such as practitioners and policymakers.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The research will take place in urban and rural middle schools in Oregon.

Sample: Participants include 320 students in grades 68 who are receiving special education services for EBD and are (or are at risk for) transitioning between school settings and placements. In addition, students' parents and content area teachers will participate.

Intervention: SWIFT is a 9- to 12-month program designed to include collaborative consultation between a SWIFT team (case manager, parent coach, student behavioral skills coach) and school personnel. Referrals to SWIFT are initiated by the school district when it is anticipated that students' school behavior will trigger a transition between school settings or placements (such as placement in a more restrictive environment or at a different school location). SWIFT includes four components intended to provide individualized supports to each student and their family to enhance stability at school. (1) Behavioral Progress Monitoring: The Parent Daily Report and the Teacher Daily Report are used for weekly behavioral progress monitoring of student behavior at home and in school. Data are used to identify problem behaviors to target in weekly student sessions and to monitor progress throughout the intervention. (2) Case Management: The case manager is the primary contact between the SWIFT team and school personnel, which includes facilitating information sharing between home and school and helping to translate the supports identified in the IEP and behavior support plan to the new educational setting. The case manager also coordinates and supervises the parent and skills coaches via weekly clinical meetings and 24-hour on-call support as needed. (3) Parent Support: Each family receives a parent coach who meets with parents weekly to help them with home-school communication and positive parenting practices. Parent coaches also provide support to parents between meetings as needed. (4) Behavioral Skills Coaching: Each student receives a skills coach who meets with the student one to two times a week to support the student in developing prosocial skills and reinforces the use of positive adaptive skills and peer relations. Examples of skills practiced in these sessions include calming routines and emotion regulation, making and keeping friends, responding appropriately to bullying, appropriate self-advocacy, and organization of academic materials. SWIFT supports are available during the summer months and school breaks as needed.

Research Design and Methods: This study will use a randomized controlled trial to test the efficacy of SWIFT. Students will be recruited in four cohorts of 80 students each year across the 4 project years. Students and their families will be randomly assigned to the SWIFT program or services-as-usual comparison condition. Data will be collected before the intervention starts (baseline), 6 months post-baseline, 12 months post-baseline, and 18 months post-baseline. The research team will analyze data to examine the efficacy of the intervention as well as variables that may mediate (such as student social emotional skills and parenting behaviors) or moderate (such as school urbanicity and intervention dosage and fidelity) intervention effects. The research team will also conduct cost and cost-effectiveness analyses to help schools and districts understand the monetary costs of implementing SWIFT, including the costs relative to observed student outcomes.

Control Condition: Students and families in the control condition will continue to receive any services that they were receiving prior to their entry into the study.

Key Measures: To measure student social-emotional skills and behavior adjustment, parents and teachers will complete the parent and teacher report forms of the Achenbach System of Empirically Based Assessment and the Emotion Regulation Checklist. Parents, teachers, and students will complete the Social Skills Improvement System-Rating Scales to measure students' social skills. To measure students' relationships with teachers and peers, and their school adjustment skills, parents, teachers, and students will complete the Walker McConnell Scale. In addition, the research team will use the Academic Engagement Time Observation system to conduct direct observations of student behavior in the classroom. To measure students' school adjustment, the research team will collect school recorddata indicating each student's rate and type of office discipline referrals and suspensions; grades; state test scores; type of school placement and number of placement, setting, and school moves; number and type of special education and related services received from the school; and attendance. To measure students' oral reading fluency and math skills, the EasyCBM will be administered to students. To assess parenting behaviors, parents' use of reinforcement, limit-setting, and monitoring will be measured using the self-report Discipline Questionnaire and Parenting Scale. In addition, the research team will conduct a brief parent interviewon parenting practices regarding student academic support (such as during homework and study routine) and their contact with teachers and the school. Parent, student, teacher, and school demographic information will be obtained through questionnaires as well as publicly available school information (such as school size). The team will also collect measures of key moderators (school report cards, intervention dosage, and fidelity coding), implementation (Stages of Implementation Completion), and costs.

Data Analytic Strategy: Latent variable modeling will be used to examine the main effects of the intervention, and multivariate analysis of variance and structural equation modeling (SEM) will be used to examine differences between groups at long-term follow up. A two-group latent growth model will be used to test intervention effects on students' adjustment outcomes and SEM will be used to test mediators and moderators of intervention effects. The Cost of Implementing New Strategies (COINS) will be used to assess costs and cost-effectiveness.

Related IES Projects: Students, Parents, and Teachers on Track: Intervention Development for Youth with Emotional Disturbance (R324A110370)