WWC review of this study

Exploring Solutions to Address Students' Social Competencies to Facilitate School Success: A Usability and Feasibility Study

Common, Eric Alan; Buckman, Mark Matthew; Lane, Kathleen Lynne; Leko, Melinda; Royer, David James; Oakes, Wendy Peia; Allen, Grant Edmund (2019). Education and Treatment of Children, v42 n4 p489-513. Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1229803

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
    , grades

Reviewed: July 2022

No statistically significant positive
Meets WWC standards without reservations
Student Behavior outcomes—Indeterminate effect found for the domain
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
Significant? Improvement

Social Skills Improvement System (SSIS) Rating Scales Social Skills: teacher-reported

Positive Action Counselor Kit (PACK) vs. Social Skills Improvement System—Intervention Guide (SSiS-IG)

0 Days

Full sample;
20 students





Social Skills Improvement System (SSIS) Rating Scales Problem Behavior: teacher-reported

Positive Action Counselor Kit (PACK) vs. Social Skills Improvement System—Intervention Guide (SSiS-IG)

0 Days

Full sample;
21 students





Evidence Tier rating based solely on this study. This intervention may achieve a higher tier when combined with the full body of evidence.

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.

  • Female: 25%
    Male: 75%

  • Urban
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  • Race
    Native American
    Two or more races
  • Ethnicity
    Not Hispanic or Latino    
  • Eligible for Free and Reduced Price Lunch
    Other or unknown    


The study took place at four public elementary schools in a small city in the midwestern United States. The intervention was implemented by second and third grade teachers and by school counselors outside of class.

Study sample

The researchers randomly assigned 12 students to the intervention group and 12 students to the comparison group. Ten of the students were in second grade and 14 were in third grade. The students were at-risk for externalizing or internalizing behaviors. Six of the students were receiving special education services before the study began and three more were referred during the study. Seventy-five percent of the students were male. Seventy-one percent were White, 8% were Asian or Pacific Islander, 4% were Black, 4% were Native American, and 13% percent were of mixed race. Thirteen percent were Hispanic or Latino.

Intervention Group

As a supplement to the schoolwide Positive Action program, school counselors delivered Positive Action Counselor’s Kit (PACK) to small groups of students outside of classroom instruction twice a week in 25- to 30-minute sessions. The PACK curriculum consists of seven units totaling 42 lessons intended to support students’ socio-emotional development for students at high-risk for externalizing or internalizing behaviors. The units focus on teaching students how to manage their emotions and behavior. Lessons follow three steps. The first step presents a story related to a featured social skill. The second step uses activities and discussions related to the story and the third step includes a summary of the lesson to encourage students to connect the story and lesson with their own actions. Counselors taught between 19 and 22 sessions of the intervention. Counselors also taught two review sessions, one at the midpoint of the intervention and another towards the end. Classroom teachers implemented another part of the intervention that was integrated with PACK, called direct behavior ratings (DBR). Teachers rated student behavior during language arts instruction and used that information to inform student behavior interventions. DBR was used in both the intervention and comparison group.

Comparison Group

In addition to receiving the Positive Action program, the comparison group received the Social Skills Improvement System (SSiS) implemented using the SSiS Intervention Guide. The intent of SSiS was similar to PACK and was implemented by school counselors outside of class time. SSiS consists of 20 lessons covering seven domains, each representing a general social skill area and lessons within a domain cover specific skills (for example, speaking in an appropriate tone of voice). Lessons are scripted and use a six-part structure: tell, show, do, practice, monitor progress, and generalize. Supporting materials for the lessons include skills checklists and videos. Counselors taught between 17 and 21 sessions of the intervention. As in the intervention condition, the lessons were delivered during two 25- to 30-minute sessions each week, with two review sessions. Comparison students received the same DBR intervention during language arts instruction as intervention group students.

Support for implementation

The intervention was implemented by four school counselors, one at each school, who averaged 14.5 years of education experience. The researchers trained school counselors in a 90-minute training session to implement both curricula. Training included general procedures for socio-emotional skills instruction as well as specific procedures for each curriculum using a PowerPoint and curriculum manuals. Research assistants supported counselors’ communication with classroom teachers throughout the intervention.


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