The schools came from five districts in northern Alabama (33 schools were located in Birmingham,
11 in Tuscaloosa or Tuscaloosa County, 5 in Bessemer City, and 8 in Shelby County). The set of schools is diverse and covers both urban and suburban areas.
A total of 49 counselors from 57 schools and five school districts were assigned to the Coping Power Training + Feedback condition (CP-TF), the Coping Power Basic Training condition (CP-BT), or a no-treatment comparison group. Nineteen schools were assigned to each condition. The sample consisted of two cohorts of students, with 13 schools in the first cohort and 44 schools in the second cohort. Randomization to study condition took place at the school counselor level and was stratified by district; eight counselors worked with two schools each, so these schools were assigned as pairs. Students were selected for participation based on third-grade teachers’ ratings of six aggressive behaviors in the spring semester. The 30% most aggressive students across all classrooms, excluding the top 2%, were considered potentially eligible for the study. A total of 1,435 students met these criteria. Within each school’s pool of eligible students, families were randomly contacted until a maximum of 10 families agreed to participate. The same process was used in both treatment and comparison schools. The initial sample consisted of 531 “high-risk” students (CP-TF = 168; CP-BT = 183; comparison group = 180) who were included in the study based on the Teacher Report of Reactive and Proactive Aggression (Dodge et al. 1997).16 The analysis sample consists of 332 students. The program was delivered to participants during fourth and fifth grade. A majority of the sample was made up of African American (84%) and male (65%) students.
Coping Power had a child and parent component and was implemented by school staff. Children received thirty-four 50- to 60-minute group sessions during school time, and parents received sixteen 90-minute group sessions. The intervention lasted over two school years (grades 4 and 5). Children and parents respectively attended 11 and 5 sessions in the fourthgrade year and the remaining sessions in the fifth-grade year. Children also received monthly individual sessions. Parents met in groups of 10 or fewer or in parent dyads. Fidelity of program implementation was assessed by researchers through eight variables evaluating program delivery and counselor engagement. Seven of the measures were derived from audiotapes of child and parent sessions; parents attended less than 25% of scheduled parent sessions.
Usual counseling services were provided in these schools. The comparison group was led by 17 counselors, with a mean of 9.4 years of experience. Fourteen staff members were certified as school counselors, 10 had a master’s degree, and 6 held a Ph.D. The report indicates that these counselors were comparable to counselors in the other two study conditions with regard to education and experience.
This study included parent and teacher ratings on the Behavior Assessment System for Children
(BASC), including the externalizing and social/academic composites. The National Youth Survey
(NYS) Minor Assault Scale also was used. The study measured outcomes before and after two
school years of implementation. For a more detailed description of these outcome measures,
see Appendix B.
Support for implementation
By nature of the study, counselors in the CP-TF condition received more intensive training than
counselors in the CP-BT condition. The CP-BT counselors attended three workshop training
days in the fall before the intervention and two-hour monthly sessions throughout the study.
The CP-TF counselors received these components plus individualized technical assistance
for specific problems via email or over the phone; trainers also reviewed the rate of session
completion and gave feedback to counselors in the CP-TF condition. Counselors in the CP-TF
condition received the version of Coping Power that is recommended by the developers; this
more intensive training reflects how the program has evolved for application in real-life, community
settings outside of a research setting. Training to all counselors was provided by four
of the research authors, who were doctoral-level clinical psychologists.