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IES Grant

Title: Developing Positive Family Support for Students Exposed to Trauma
Center: NCER Year: 2020
Principal Investigator: Lindstrom Johnson, Sarah Awardee: Arizona State University
Program: Social and Behavioral Context for Academic Learning      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (07/01/2020 - 06/30/2024) Award Amount: $1,390,640
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R305A200238

Purpose: This project will adapt an evidence-based school parent engagement program, Positive Family Supports (PFS), to be trauma-informed. By addressing students' traumatic experiences, the adapted program is intended to reduce income-related educational disparities. Addressing the traumatic experiences of students is critical for many reasons including that many low-income children are exposed to traumatic events and the presence of trauma negatively impacts biological development, mental health, and academic outcomes.

Activities: The researchers will iteratively develop and refine PFS, conduct usability and feasibility tests, and run a pilot study of the fully developed intervention. They will also analyze the cost of the intervention.

Products: This project will develop PFS, generate information about the cost of implementing the intervention, and prepare peer-reviewed publications, presentations, and additional dissemination products (e.g., research briefs) that reach education stakeholders such as practitioners and policymakers.

Structured Abstract

Setting: This project will include Arizona schools and districts with large Latinx populations.

Sample: Over the course of development and pilot work, the researchers will recruit 10 elementary schools from 3 districts. The longitudinal follow up work will include 150 families.

Intervention: This work builds on prior IES-funded research on the multi-tiered PFS intervention (R324A090111) that has shown positive impacts on attendance and GPA. PFS incorporates supports recommended by the federally funded National Child Traumatic Stress Network for trauma-informed schools. The revised intervention will include components that (1) improve families and school staff awareness of the biological, cognitive, and behavioral effects of trauma; (2) ensure a welcoming school climate; (3) effectively screen all students for exposure to trauma; (4) provide families and school staff skills to support students that are exposed to traumatic events; (5) foster school/home partnerships using a school home liaison; and (6) cultivate community linkages for additional resources to address the intergenerational nature of trauma.

Research Design and Methods: The researchers will iteratively adapt the program using the Map of Adaptation Process. The iterative phases will involve qualitative methods with parents, students, and school staff (16 focus groups and 32 interviews) and 2 advisory boards as well as a pilot in 4 schools already implementing trauma-informed student practices. This process will involve feedback loops, including dissemination of interim findings to school-based practitioners, as well as intense monitoring of implementation. Once the revised program is fully developed, the researchers will use a stepped-wedge design in six schools. This pilot will test the promise of the program with regards to improving parent and student engagement and teacher efficacy and reducing teacher burnout. The researchers will also conduct an 18-month longitudinal follow-up to further understand the program's impact.

Control Condition: In a stepped-wedge design, each school starts in the control condition and then is randomly assigned the order in which they will implement the intervention.

Key Measures: Individual-level survey outcomes include information about child school engagement, parent school engagement, child behaviors, parenting including trauma symptoms, and the family environment. The school will be asked to provide report cards as well as attendance, suspension, and retention data for each of the enrolled students at each data point they are available. Researchers will also collect school climate data and information about teacher retention.

Data Analytic Strategy: Researchers will use a Discrete Time Generalized Linear Mixed (Multilevel) Model (GLMM) to estimate the intervention effects on parent and child engagement and other outcomes.

Cost Analysis: Researchers will collect cost data from schools and districts to provide information to support the sustainability of the intervention.

Related Project: Ecological Approach to Family Intervention and Treatment (Eco-FIT) Integrated with PBS: An Effectiveness Trial in Middle School (R324A090111)