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IES Grant

Title: Initial Efficacy Evaluation of the CW-FIT Middle School Program: Improving Academic Engagement and Outcomes for Middle School Students
Center: NCSER Year: 2020
Principal Investigator: Wills, Howard Awardee: University of Kansas
Program: Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Competence      [Program Details]
Award Period: 5 years (07/01/2020 – 06/30/2025) Award Amount: $3,300,000
Type: Efficacy Award Number: R324A200063

Co-Principal Investigators: Caldarella, Paul; Wehby, Joseph

Related Projects: Class-wide Function-Based Intervention Teams: A Research to Practice Agenda for Functional Behavior Assessment (CW: FIT) (R324A070181); A Multi-Site Efficacy Trial of the Class-wide Function-related Intervention Teams "CW-FITs": A Research to Practice Agency for Students With and At Risk for EBD (R324A120344); Middle School Class-wide Function-related Intervention Teams (MS CW-FIT): Improving Academic Engagement and Outcomes for Middle School Students at Risk for Emotional or Behavioral Disorders (R324A160279)

Purpose: The purpose of the CW-FIT Middle School (CW-FIT MS) project is to conduct an Initial Efficacy evaluation of CW-FIT MS for improving middle school students' engagement, academic outcomes and socially appropriate behaviors while improving their teachers' classroom management practices. Classroom behavior problems top the list of concerns for teachers, who consistently rank students' disruptive, defiant, and aggressive behaviors as major barriers to teaching. Classroom management is particularly important in middle school where teachers often struggle with managing classrooms and students struggle with disengagement and disruptive behavior. CW-FIT MS was developed with IES funding and has demonstrated feasibility of implementation by middle school teachers as well as promise for improve education outcomes of middle school students with or at risk for emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD), but the efficacy of the intervention has not yet been tested.

Project Activities: In this project, the research team will examine the efficacy of CW-FIT MS Program across three sites, using a cluster randomized controlled trial, with schools randomized to CW-FIT MS or a business as usual control condition. The team will conduct analyses of factors that mediate and moderate the effectiveness of the CW-FIT MS intervention on student outcomes, and conduct cost and cost-effectiveness analyses.

Products: The primary product of this project will be evidence of the efficacy of CW-FIT MS for middle school students with or at risk for EBD.The project will also 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: A total of 24 middle schools in Kansas, Utah, and Tennessee. A majority of participating schools are urban settings serving a high percentage of students from ethnic-minority backgrounds and with 40% or higher free/reduced lunch counts.

Sample: Teachers and their students in core academic area classes, grades 6-9 and a minimum of 360 students with or at risk for Emotional Behavioral Disorders (EBD) will participate. A minimum of 144 Middle School Teachers will participate with over 3,600 students across their classes participating in the study.

Intervention: CW-FIT MS is a multi-tiered, class-wide, positive behavioral interdependent group contingency intervention with a teaching component and a Tier 2 component of self-management.

Research Design and Methods: To address the research questions regarding the effects of the intervention, this Initial Efficacy Study uses a yearlong cluster-randomized controlled trial design, where schools are randomly assigned to intervention condition (CW-FIT MS vs. Business-as-Usual).

Control Condition: Teachers and students randomly assigned to the business as usual control condition will receive the usual services and supports the school provides.

Key Measures: Key Measures include: (1) direct observation of class-wide engagement, direct observation of engagement and disruptive behaviors of students with or at risk for EBD, teacher praise and reprimands; (2) teacher ratings of student academic and socially appropriate behavior using standardized measures; (3) student performance (i.e., assignment completion, grades, Kaufman Test of Educational Achievement II); (4) fidelity of implementation measures; and (5) teacher and student satisfaction.

Data Analytic Strategy: To estimate differential intervention effects of CW-FIT MS and BAU, multilevel longitudinal analyses will be implemented to examine change in classroom-level and individual student-level outcomes over the course of this yearlong C-RCT. This same organizational analysis will be used to test candidate variables for student level moderators separately at each occasion across student outcomes to detect moderators with medium effect sizes.

Cost and Cost Effectiveness Analysis: To understand the total cost of the intervention, a rigorous cost analysis will be conducted. Using the Ingredients Method (Levin, McEwan, Belfield, Bowden, & Shand, 2018), all resources essential to the production of the outcome will be identified and described. This provides stakeholders with a contextual understanding of the cost and impact of business-as-usual as it compares to the cost and impact of the treatment.