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

NCEE 2011-4017
May 2011

Implementation Findings

The key descriptive findings regarding implementation of the curriculum portion of the program across all years include the following:

  • In a majority of intervention schools, students were exposed to the full set of 16 RiPP lessons in each of the 3 years of implementation. Between 61 percent and 72 percent of schools delivered all 16 lessons to all classrooms in each year of program implementation, while another 17 percent to 22 percent of schools delivered all lessons in at least three-fourths of these classrooms.
  • The curriculum was not fully delivered with fidelity. In year three, teachers in 44 percent of the intervention schools were observed to deliver lessons with few or no deviations from the written lesson plan (e.g., adding or modifying activities or changing the activity sequence), according to classroom observations by the evaluation team. With regard to teachers delivering lessons with few or no deviations from the prescribed teaching strategies (e.g., using role plays or small group discussions), teachers met this second criterion in 56 percent of schools in the third year.
  • Interviewed RiPP teachers cited challenges with using one or more of the prescribed teaching techniques or approaches.3 Eighty-eight percent of teachers interviewed in year three mentioned difficulties with implementing at least one of five RiPP techniques or approaches, and 27 percent mentioned difficulties with implementing three or more of the five techniques or approaches.
  • The extent to which students were engaged with the curriculum declined by year three. The evaluation team observed the same cohort of students receiving the curriculum over 3 successive years. These students were found to be engaged during the lesson activities, exercises, and discussions in 89 percent of the intervention schools in year one and 69 percent in year three.

The key descriptive findings regarding the implementation of the whole-school portion of the program across the 3 years include the following:

  • Principal support and commitment for the whole-school portion of the intervention was mixed in year three. Principals at 72 percent of the intervention schools were rated as supportive in year three, according to liaisons who helped implement the program. In addition, liaisons reported that 50 percent of the principals in year three used their leadership to promote the program. In the third year of implementation, slightly more than half (56 percent) of the principals were regularly involved with the school management team.
  • By the end of the third year, the majority of intervention schools had instituted behavioral rules and rewards. In addition, a majority of teachers agreed that the rules were well defined and clear with regard to the behaviors being targeted. By the end of the third year, 83 percent of intervention schools had developed and posted school rules in the school, 78 percent had developed and instituted a token reward system for adhering to school rules, and 78 percent had developed lesson plans and taught the school rules in classrooms. In addition, 87 percent of teachers at intervention schools agreed or strongly agreed that school rules were clearly defined. However, a smaller percentage (64 percent) of the teachers surveyed in year three agreed or strongly agreed that that it was clear what consequences would follow when school rules were broken.
  • Among the cited challenges with implementing Best Behavior were finding time to implement the program, obtaining teacher buy-in, maintaining student interest, and funding the rewards program. School management team members interviewed in year three mentioned difficulties with finding the time to implement the program.4 Others talked about issues with low teacher buy-in, a lack of student interest in the rewards offered through the reward system, and continued problems with funding the reward system.
  • By design, no control school implemented RiPP or Best Behavior during the 3 years of the study. However, there were various violence prevention activities already in place in the participating schools. Between eight schools and nine schools in the intervention group and between six schools and seven schools in the control group administered classroom-based education other than RiPP across the 3 years. The types of programs implemented included gang resistance programs, character education programs, and individual presentations that were not part of a curriculum (most often, speakers, a video, or a lesson) focused on specific topics such as bullying, harassment, and dating violence.


3 RiPP teachers were to use the following teaching techniques and approaches: make RiPP real (tie it to students' daily lives); role plays; small group work, discussion, and brainstorming; encourage self-talk by students; use Review and Closure to begin and end sessions.
4 Key program practices are as follows: (1) the school management team meets regularly; (2) rules of behavior are defined and adopted; (3) rules are posted throughout the school; (4) plans are developed for teaching rules; (5) rules and expectations are taught; (6) a reinforcement system is developed; (7) the reinforcement system is implemented school-wide; (8) discipline data are collected and reviewed; (9) focus is given to the needs of high-risk youth; and (10) a schoolwide needs assessment is conducted periodically.