Skip Navigation
Impacts of a Violence Prevention Program for Middle Schools: Findings After 3 Years of Implementation

NCEE 2011-4017
May 2011

The Intervention

Two research-based programs were selected through an open competition and advice from a panel of experts in the field of violence prevention: the RiPP program (Meyer and Northup 2002a, 2002b, 2006) was chosen as the curriculum-based component of the intervention, and the Best Behavior program (Sprague and Golly 2005) (a formalized version of schoolwide PBS [Sugai and Horner 1994; Sprague, Sugai, and Walker 1998]) was selected as the whole-school component. These two approaches are considered complementary in that they target both individual- and school-level change mechanisms. RiPP is similar to other social skills programs in that it aims to increase social competence and improve problem-solving skills to reduce violence. While whole-school programs such as Best Behavior typically feature a schoolwide committee to review rules and policies for student behavior, Best Behavior (and PBS, upon which it is based) also includes a reward system to reinforce appropriate behavior.

RiPP and Best Behavior were rated the highest by outside expert reviewers among a set of 16 curricular and whole-school programs submitted for consideration by program developers of middle school violence prevention programs. Criteria for program selection included the program's developmental appropriateness, overall quality of the approach and potential for reducing violence, theoretical foundation, and any outcome or process evaluation results, if available. The design of the intervention as a hybrid of the two types of programs was based on recommendations presented by a group of technical advisors in a design paper commissioned by ED prior to the current study (Bos, Weinstock, and Frankenberg 2004). The group's recommendations were the result of discussions held during a series of technical working group meetings and were informed by several literature reviews and commissioned papers on the subject. Experts concluded that a combination of the two broad types of violence prevention strategies—curricular and whole-school approaches—offered the strongest potential for impacts. This conclusion was based on the experts' judgment that the effect size was likely to be low for any one program, particularly a universal curriculum program, and that a whole-school strategy might boost that effect.

While both RiPP and Best Behavior are implemented by school staff, in this study technical assistance was made available throughout the implementation period by on-site implementation liaisons trained and hired by the implementation subcontractor, Tanglewood Research. Liaisons (e.g., former school teachers or administrators) were hired to facilitate, coach, and monitor the progress and delivery of both programs.