WWC review of this study

Equity-Focused PBIS Approach Reduces Racial Inequities in School Discipline: A Randomized Controlled Trial

McIntosh, Kent; Girvan, Erik J.; Fairbanks Falcon, Sarah; McDaniel, Sara C.; Smolkowski, Keith; Bastable, Eoin; Santiago-Rosario, María Reina; Izzard, Sara; Austin, Sean C.; Nese, Rhonda N. T.; Baldy, Tabathia S. (2021). School Psychology, v36 n6 p433-444. Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1316009

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
     examining 
    8
     Schools
    , grades
    K-5

Reviewed: March 2023

At least one finding shows promising evidence of effectiveness
At least one statistically significant positive finding
Meets WWC standards without reservations
School equity outcomes—Statistically significant positive effect found for the domain
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

Black-Other Office Discipline Referral (ODR) risk difference (researcher-created)

Racial equity through Assessing data for vulnerable decision points, Culturally responsive behavior strategies, and Teaching about implicit bias and how to neutralize it (ReACT) vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Full sample;
8 schools

0.09

0.17

Yes

 
 
40
 
Show Supplemental Findings

Office Discipline Referral (ODR) rates per Black student (researcher-created)

Racial equity through Assessing data for vulnerable decision points, Culturally responsive behavior strategies, and Teaching about implicit bias and how to neutralize it (ReACT) vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Full sample;
8 schools

0.26

0.69

Yes

 
 
35


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.


  • 29% English language learners

  • Other or unknown: 100%

  • Rural
    • B
    • A
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    • a
    • h
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    Georgia
  • Race
    Black
    30%
    Other or unknown
    70%
  • Ethnicity
    Hispanic    
    34%
    Not Hispanic or Latino    
    66%
  • Eligible for Free and Reduced Price Lunch
    Other or unknown    
    100%

Setting

The study took place in eight elementary schools in a rural school district located in Georgia. Each participating school enrolled approximately 500 students.

Study sample

The researchers randomly assigned four schools to the intervention group and four schools to the comparison group. Approximately 500 students were enrolled in each school. Approximately 30% of the students in the study were Black and race was not reported for the other 70%. Just over one third of students were Hispanic or Latino and 29% were English learners. Twelve percent of students had a specific learning disability.

Intervention Group

The intervention in this study is ReACT. ReACT stands for Racial equity through Assessing data for vulnerable decision points, Culturally responsive behavior strategies, and Teaching about implicit bias and how to neutralize it. ReACT is a professional development (PD) intervention for all school staff and designed to leverage the positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS) framework for increasing racial equity in school discipline. ReACT PD sessions delivered throughout the year focused on helping teachers understand implicit bias and how this influences disciplinary decisions. Sessions also entailed working with teachers to use root cause analyses of discipline data and understand why a discipline action occurred. These analyses informed creation of tailored intervention plans for students. ReACT trainers also led school personnel through a process of identifying which racial/ethnic groups are receiving inequitable discipline. The program was implemented across 3 full-day and 3 half-day sessions, totaling more than 25 hours of PD for school staff.

Comparison Group

Comparison group schools did not offer ReACT, and instead provided business-as-usual PD via professional learning communities. Comparison teachers may have participated in other business-as-usual training and PD offered by their schools or school districts. Comparison schools, like intervention schools, implemented “Tier 1” schoolwide PBIS programming but without an explicit equity focus.

Support for implementation

ReACT PD training entails (a) eliciting explicit statements from administrators regarding their commitment to equity, (b) trainers disclosing examples of their own implicit biases, (c) offering disciplinary strategy choices from a menu of similar interventions, (d) offering testimonials from school personnel willing to pilot these strategies, and (e) providing ongoing coaching of the school PBIS team coordinating the intervention.

 

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