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IES Grant

Title: ReACT Initial Efficacy: Testing the Effects of a Promising Intervention to Achieve Equity in School Discipline
Center: NCER Year: 2023
Principal Investigator: McIntosh, Kent Awardee: University of Oregon
Program: Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Context for Teaching and Learning      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (07/01/2023 – 06/30/2028) Award Amount: $3,800,000
Type: Initial Efficacy Award Number: R305A230399
Description:

Co-Principal Investigators: Girvan, Erik; Smolkowski, Keith

Purpose: Research shows that students of color, particularly African-American students, are at significantly increased risk for being excluded from instruction through office discipline referrals (ODRs) and suspensions. These disparities are troubling because of the negative effects of exclusionary discipline on academic achievement, graduation, and school climate. In this grant, researchers will evaluate the initial efficacy of ReACT, an IES-funded intervention designed to reduce racial discipline disparities. ReACT stands for Racial equity through: Assessing data for vulnerable decision points, Culturally responsive behavior strategies, and Teaching focus on implicit bias and strategies to neutralize it. In ReACT, all school personnel receive professional development and coaching through a problem-solving model to (a) identify which racial/ethnic groups are experiencing discipline disparities and find specific situations with the largest disparities (called vulnerable decision points, or VDPs), (b) select and implement a strategy-focused intervention package tailored to their school's VDPs, and (c) implement a universal strategy for school personnel and students to respond to challenges positively and instructionally. In the initial IES-funded pilot study, ReACT significantly decreased racial discipline disparities andexclusionary discipline for all students, in four schools compared to four control schools. This project will provide a more rigorous test of efficacy with a larger sample.

Project Activities: The research team will evaluate effects of ReACT on racial disparities in school discipline, academic achievement, and school climate using a randomized control trial. They will also conduct an implementation study to examine ReACT's fidelity of implementation and facilitators and barriers, as well as a cost/cost-effectiveness study to identify resources needed to implement ReACTand school costs to achieve the desired learner outcomes.

Products: The study's products will include manuscripts for peer-reviewed journals, research/practice briefs for practitioners and policymakers to be posted on a national technical assistance center website, and a full set of training and implementation materials made freely available to school, district, and state educators, as well as other researchers. Project staff will also present findings at state and national practitioner and research-oriented conferences.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The project will be conducted in 34 racially diverse public elementary schools with racial discipline disparities in Michigan.

Population: The target population will include all school personnel (e.g., administrators, aides, custodians, teachers) and students in participating schools.

Intervention: ReACT stands for Racial equity through: Assessing data for vulnerable decision points, Culturally responsive behavior strategies, and Teaching about implicit bias and strategies to neutralize it. In ReACT, a trainer provides all school personnel with professional development training and coaching through a problem-solving model to (a) identify which racial/ethnic groups are experiencing discipline disparities and find specific situations with the largest disparities (called vulnerable decision points, or VDPs), (b) select and implement a strategy-focused intervention package tailored to their school's VDPs, and (c) implement a universal strategy for adults and students to respond to challenges positively and instructionally.

Research Design and Methods: The researchers will conduct a randomized waitlist-control efficacy trial. After matching 34 elementary schools on key outcomes, they will randomly assign half to receive ReACT and half to receive a business-as-usual condition across three waves. They will collect data on learner and implementation outcomes and resources for implementation during each wave.

Control Condition: Elementary schools assigned to the control condition will conduct business as usual. These schools may, as part of their typical practice, be implementing some similar features to ReACT, so the researchers will carefully document all related implementation activities. Control schools will receive ReACT when their use of ReACT will no longer interfere with the study aims.

Key Measures: The key measures will assess racial disparities in (a) office discipline referrals, (b) percent of students meeting state academic achievement standards, and (c) perceived school climate. Additional measures will include implementation fidelity, social validity, and cost associated with implementation of ReACT.

Data Analytic Strategy: The research team will use the Time Condition analysis as their primary approach. Researchers will use this model to test differences by condition in school-level gains over time.

Cost Analysis: The researchers will collect cost information across all years for all schools implementing ReACT. They will identify, measure, and value each element used to implement ReACT, including new expenditures and reallocations of existing resources, using the ingredients method. They will also perform a cost-effectiveness to estimate costs to achieve standardized improvements in ReACT-targeted outcomes.

Related IES Projects: Project ReACT: Neutralizing the Effects of Implicit Bias on Racial Disproportionality in School Discipline (R324A170034)


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