WWC review of this study

A randomized controlled trial of the First Step to Success early intervention: Demonstration of program efficacy outcomes in a diverse, urban school district.

Walker, H. M., Seeley, J. R., Small, J., Severson, H. H., Graham, B. A., Feil, E. G., . . . Forness, S. R. (2009). Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 17(4), 197–212. Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ863236

  • Randomized controlled trial
     examining 
    197
     Students
    , grades
    1-3
At least one statistically significant positive finding
Meets WWC standards without reservations

Reviewed: March 2012

External behavior outcomes—Statistically significant positive effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
index

Social Skills Rating System (SSRS) Problem Behavior: Teacher report

First Step to Success vs. business as usual

Posttest 30 days

Grades 1 to 3;
194 students

112.6

119.8

Yes

 
 
23
More Outcomes

Social Skills Rating System (SSRS) Problem Behavior: Parent report

First Step to Success vs. business as usual

Posttest 30 days

Grades 1 to 3;
186 students

103.5

110.3

Yes

 
 
19

Systematic Screening for Behavior Disorders (SSBD): Maladaptive Behavior

First Step to Success vs. business as usual

Posttest 30 days

Grades 1 to 3;
197 students

25.7

30.4

Yes

 
 
19

Academic engaged time (AET)

First Step to Success vs. business as usual

Posttest 30 days

Grades 1 to 3;
196 students

56.8

48.6

Yes

 
 
15
Other academic performance outcomes—Statistically significant positive effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
index

Social Skills Rating System (SSRS) Academic Competence

First Step to Success vs. business as usual

Posttest 30 days

Grades 1 to 3;
194 students

91.1

91.1

Yes

 
 
13
Reading achievement outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
index

Oral Reading Fluency

First Step to Success vs. business as usual

Posttest 30 days

Grades 1 to 3;
190 students

60.5

58.9

No

--
More Outcomes

Woodcock-Johnson III (WJ-III): Letter-Word Identification subtest

First Step to Success vs. business as usual

Posttest 30 days

Grades 1 to 3;
193 students

99.5

101.2

No

--
Social outcomes outcomes—Statistically significant positive effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
index

Social Skills Rating System (SSRS) Social Skills: Teacher report

First Step to Success vs. business as usual

Posttest 30 days

Grades 1 to 3;
189 students

95

85.6

Yes

 
 
28
More Outcomes

Systematic Screening for Behavior Disorders (SSBD): Adaptive Behavior

First Step to Success vs. business as usual

Posttest 30 days

Grades 1 to 3;
197 students

41

35

Yes

 
 
26

Social Skills Rating System (SSRS) Social Skills: Parent report

First Step to Success vs. business as usual

Posttest 30 days

Grades 1 to 3;
186 students

97.6

91.8

Yes

 
 
14

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.


  • 16% English language learners

  • 70% Free or reduced price lunch

  • Female: 27%
    Male: 73%
  • Race
    White
    24%
  • Ethnicity
    Hispanic
    57%
    Not Hispanic
    43%
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    New Mexico

Setting

Teachers and students were drawn from 34 elementary schools in Albuquerque Public Schools, New Mexico.

Study sample

A sample of 260 teachers from grades 1–3 in 34 elementary schools were randomly assigned to an intervention or usual care control condition across two cohorts (one for the 2005–06 academic year and the other for 2006–07). Random assignment occurred at classroom level within cohorts. Prior to random assignment, the SSBD was used to identify students who were exhibiting the most severe behavioral concerns within each classroom. The student with the highest average ranking across the SSBD Stage 2 measures was targeted for inclusion in the study; these students were described as exhibiting antisocial behaviors, including victimizing others, severe tantrums, and aggression. Parental consent was obtained for students in 210 of the 260 recruited teachers/classrooms (81%). In cohort 1, parents were more likely to decline participation in the study if their child had been randomized to the comparison condition; thus, the authors randomized a larger proportion of classrooms to the comparison condition in cohort 2 to achieve a balanced design across conditions. Of the 210 consenting students across the two cohorts, approximately half were in classrooms that were randomly assigned to the experimental condition (n = 107) and half were in classrooms that were randomly assigned to the control condition (n = 103). The analysis sample consisted of 101 treatment and 97 control students, although specific sample sizes varied by outcome. Participants were predominantly Hispanic (57%) or Caucasian (24.5%), 73% were males, 70% were eligible for free or reduced-price lunches, and roughly 16% were English language learners.

Intervention Group

Intervention students were exposed to both the CLASS and HomeBase components of the group program. The HomeBase component was started by the behavioral coach on the 10th day of the intervention and consisted of 6 one-hour home visits by the behavioral coach. The study assessed intervention fidelity, teacher-coach alliance, and student and parent program compliance. Implementation was assessed via expert raters four times, focusing on behavioral coach tasks and the beginning, middle, and end of the teacher phase using a First Step to Success checklist. Additional post-intervention fidelity scales and assessment of the alliance among teachers, coaches, and parents also were used. Student compliance was measured by the number of times students successfully completed an intervention session without having to repeat it. Authors did not report concerns pertaining to intervention fidelity.

Comparison Group

Control classrooms were described as usual care comparisons.

Outcome descriptions

The study included a measure of academic engaged time (AET), teacher and parent ratings on the Social Skills Rating System (SSRS) Problem Behavior and Social Skills Subscales, teacher ratings on the Social Skills Rating System (SSRS) Academic Competence Subscale, teacher ratings on the Systematic Screening for Behavior Disorders (SSBD) Adaptive and Maladaptive Behavior Indexes, the Woodcock-Johnson III Diagnostic Reading Battery (WJ-III DRB) Letter- Word Identification Subset and a series of oral reading fluency passages (i.e., average correct words read per minute from a set of passages). For a more detailed description of these outcome measures, see Appendix B.

Support for implementation

Behavior coaches, who implemented the first five days of the classroom portion and all six home visits, attended a two-day training institute. The coaches remained in close contact with supervisory staff and were scheduled for fidelity monitoring checks regularly. The trainer held weekly videoconferences to answer questions and address problems. Parents were trained by the behavioral coaches during the home visits. Teachers were taught how to monitor child behavior, give praise, and provide feedback to parents.

In the case of multiple manuscripts that report on one study, the WWC selects one manuscript as the primary citation and lists other manuscripts that describe the study as additional sources.

  • Walker, H. M. (2010). Evidence-based interventions for severe behavior problems, final report (IES Special Education Annual Performance Report No. CFDA #84324P). Washington, DC: Institute of Education Sciences.

 

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