This study was conducted in 28 middle school classrooms in five Title I schools in urban and interurban communities in the the Midwestern and Western United States. Teachers and their entire classrooms participated in the study, including two to three individual students from each class who were identified as at risk for emotional and behavioral disorders.
There were 629 students enrolled across the participating classrooms (325 intervention, 304 comparison). Forty-nine percent of the students were White, 25 percent were Hispanic, 16 percent were Black, 3 percent were Asian, 2 percent were Pacific Islander, 1 percent were American Indian, and 5 percent were multi-race.
Of the 70 participating students with or at risk for emotional and behavioral disorders, 33 percent were in sixth grade, 28 percent in seventh grade, and 39 percent in eighth grade. The average age was 12 years. Most students were male (85%) while 15 percent were female. Most students (80%) spoke English in the home, 14 percent had an IEP, and 6 percent had a 504 plan.
Teachers were 71 percent female and 29 percent male, and almost 90 percent were White. The average teacher age was 35 years. All teachers had bachelor’s degrees, six had also completed master’s degrees, and one had an education specialist degree. Teachers had an average of 7 years of teaching experience.
Characteristics of the full study sample were not reported.
Class-wide Function-Related Intervention Teams (CW-FIT) was developed as a multi-tiered intervention for elementary classrooms. Tier 1 consists of multiple evidence-based classroom management practices including (a) explicit teaching and posting of classroom rules, (b) pre-correction, (c) group contingency, (d) acknowledgement (e.g., behavior-specific praise), (e) planned ignoring of inappropriate behaviors, and (f) differential reinforcement of appropriate behaviors.
A version of the CW-FIT intervention (called CW-FIT MS) was evaluated for middle school. Tier 1 interventions are the same as those in the elementary school version, and minor modifications were made in the implementation of some practices (e.g., ways to teach classroom rules, number of lessons, and frequency of acknowledgement) and the length of training and coaching for teachers based on the feedback from focus groups.
Generally, teachers retained their current seating assignments and at-risk students were distributed across groups. The teacher explained that all students on a team would be working together to earn points by following the expectations and being on task. An audible timer sounded every 5 minutes, signaling the teacher to evaluate class performance. A team earned a point if all the students were on task and following the expectations when the timer sounded. A chart was displayed on which the teacher would set a daily goal and record points earned by teams. Each team worked toward the daily goal to achieve a predetermined reward that was also indicated on the chart.
The comparison condition conducted business as usual.
Support for implementation
Intervention teachers were trained by research staff in CW-FIT MS during one 60-min session at each school. Trainers detailed the intervention components (e.g., classroom behavior expectation lessons, pre-corrects, and group contingency with teams, use of timer, points, and rewards) and showed video clips of CW-FIT MS implementation. Training emphasized understanding expectations, collaborating with students regarding those expectations, and giving behavior-specific praise. Teachers received handouts of the presentation and a copy of a procedural fidelity form to refer to as needed in implementation. Trainers gave teachers time during the training to practice using CW-FIT MS components. As intervention teachers began implementing CW-FIT MS in their classrooms, trainers offered coaching and modeling as needed until teachers implemented procedures with at least 85 percent fidelity. After the expectation lessons had been taught and the teacher was able to implement procedures with fidelity, the intervention phase began.
Teachers were compensated $250.00 for their time spent outside of class for training and assessments.