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IES Grant

Title: Supporting Teachers in Engaging Parents (STEP): The Development of a Teacher Training Curriculum and Coaching Model to Foster Family Engagement
Center: NCER Year: 2021
Principal Investigator: Smith, Tyler Awardee: University of Missouri, Columbia
Program: Social and Behavioral Context for Academic Learning      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (08/01/2021 – 07/31/2025) Award Amount: $1,999,962
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R305A210126

Co-Principal Investigators: Herman, Keith; Holmes, Shannon; Reinke, Wendy

Purpose:The purpose of this project is to address the lack of evidence-based teacher training programs to support family engagement in education. Using an iterative process, the research team will develop a new teacher training curriculum and coaching model called Supporting Teachers in Engaging Parents (STEP). The STEP Model will focus on using feasible, efficient, and sophisticated methods for training and supporting teachers in developing communication and culturally responsive skills necessary to effectively engage all families in education and improve student academic and social outcomes.

Project Activities:Using a multi-phase iterative process, the researchers will follow four phases (i.e., initial development, development and refinement, social validity and feasibility testing, and pilot testing) to create a fully developed STEP Model focused on improving teachers' family engagement practices. During initial development and refinement, the researchers will convene expert panels and focus groups to receive feedback on STEP Model development. During social validity and feasibility testing, the researchers will recruit ten teachers and 30 families to receive the STEP training and coaching. After further refinement based on social validity and feasibility testing, a group RCT will be conducted to determine the promise of the full STEP Model.

Products:Outcomes of this project will include a fully developed model (i.e., STEP Training + STEP Coaching) for elementary teachers that will enhance their capacity to work with families and improve student outcomes. The finalized STEP Model materials will be shared and made freely available as an intervention option on the CCU website ( Other products include materials and resources for both scientific and professional audiences as well as peer-reviewed publications.

Structured Abstract

Setting: Elementary schools from Fulton Public Schools and Jefferson City Public Schools will participate in the proposed project.

Population/Sample: The project will include teachers, students, and parents from elementary schools in one rural and one suburban school district in central Missouri. These districts include 14 elementary schools with approximately 11,000 students.

Intervention: The primary goal of the STEP Model, inclusive of both a training curriculum and a coaching process, is to increase teacher use of evidence-based family engagement strategies that foster parent involvement, family-school partnerships, and ultimately support children's academic, behavioral, and social-emotional development. Specific STEP motivational enhancement strategies, rooted in motivational interviewing theory, will include giving personalized feedback to teachers on family engagement practices; encouraging personal responsibility for decision making while offering explicit advice if solicited; creating a menu of options for improving fidelity; and fostering teacher self-efficacy by identifying existing strengths and past experiences in which teachers have effectively engaged families.

Research Design and Methods: The researchers will use a multi-phase iterative process consistent with the ADDIE (Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation) instructional design model. In Phase 1, two expert panel groups and school personnel and other stakeholders from several districts will provide feedback about the training and coaching model and proposed measures and processes. The STEP Model will be revised with each successive meeting. In Phase 2, researchers will gather additional perspectives from the expert panel and stakeholder groups about the refined intervention and related tools. In Phase 3, the team will conduct an initial feasibility test with 10 teachers and 30 families; collect pre-post-data, and refine the intervention content, procedures, and measures with each implementation. In Phase 4, researchers will conduct a pilot test of the final model with 60 teachers (30 treatment, 30 control) and students and parents (n =600) in participating classrooms to evaluate the promise of the STEP Model for enhancing student social and academic outcomes.

Control Condition: During the Phase 4 randomized field test assessing the promise of the full STEP Model, teachers in the control condition will receive business as usual professional development (i.e., professional development opportunities already available).

Key Measures: Proximal outcomes will include teacher family engagement practices (i.e., observed parent-teacher interactions, teacher/parent report of practices) and teacher efficacy for promoting partnerships. Other measures will include student and parent-reported engagement practices, parent-teacher relationships, teacher attitudes towards family engagement, teacher cultural responsiveness, coach/teacher alliance, fidelity, and social validity. Primary distal outcomes will include student behaviors, competence, relatedness, engagement, and academic performance.

Data Analytic Strategy: The research team will code focus group and survey data by themes for consistency and recommendations across phases. They will conduct descriptive and correlational analyses on quantitative data collected during Phases 2 and 3. For student level outcomes in Phase 4, the research team will conduct two-level (students nested within classrooms) hierarchical linear models (HLM) to compare the two conditions (i.e., STEP vs. control condition) on the variables of interest.

Cost Analysis: The research team will conduct a cost analysis of STEP using the Center for Benefit-Cost Studies Education (CBCSE) Cost Tool Kit. The researchers will estimate the costs associated with implementing the STEP training and coaching process and materials. The team will also use focus group interview data to identify variables to include in a sensitivity analysis, which will provide a range of possible cost estimates depending on the context of delivery. They will develop a final cost analysis model in the final year of the project to identify costs to schools, school staff, and students. The cost analysis will provide information to inform subsequent efficacy trials as well as adoption and sustainability of the STEP Model in effectiveness trials.

Related IES Projects: Identifying Discrete and Malleable Indicators of Culturally Responsive Instruction and Discipline (R305A180111)