The study setting is six elementary schools in two school districts with 61 grade 1 classrooms in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States. Four of the elementary schools are located in an urban school district and two elementary schools are in a rural school district.
Students in the analytic sample were, on average, 6.29 years old and in first grade. Male students comprised 53.3% of the sample, and 94.1% of students spoke English as a first language. Roughly three-fourths of students in the analytic sample were White (70.1%). African-American students made up approximately one-fourth of students (24%), and roughly 10% of the students were Hispanic (9.4%). Students receiving supplemental academic support comprised 27.7% of the sample, 6.2% of students received special education services and 1.9% were repeating grade 1. Most of the teachers participating in the intervention were White, female, and had been teachers for many years (average 22 years).
The Social Skills Improvement System Classwide Intervention Program (SSIS-CIP) is a program designed to improve social-emotional development, behavioral and academic performance outcomes using instructional strategies in the classroom. The SSIS-CIP condition, as implemented in the study, includes 10 units with 3 lessons per unit. Of the 10 units, 5 cover cooperation skills, 2 cover self-control skills, and the remaining units cover assertion, responsibility, and empathy. The units include scripted lesson plans, video vignettes, and practice exercise booklets. Each of the 30 lessons were taught for between 20-25 minutes over a 12-week period. The instructional strategies used in the SSIS-CIP intervention condition were “describe, model, role-play, do, practice, monitor progress, and generalize.”
The comparison condition was business-as-usual classroom instruction, with teachers continuing their typical teaching approaches as usual. None of the classrooms assigned to the comparison condition reported following structured curricula for teaching social skills; however, roughly 85% of the teachers assigned to the comparison condition reported having plans for encouraging positive classroom behaviors, which mainly involved using behavioral reinforcements or consequences in the classroom.
Support for implementation
The participating teachers in classrooms assigned to the SSIS-CIP intervention completed a 1-day workshop training on the SSIS-CIP program. To ensure fidelity of implementation, research staff observed about 20% of each teacher's lessons and rated them on their adherence to the program's components. They also checked in with teachers every other week to answer any questions or issues that arose during implementation. All teachers participating in the study received additional compensation for time spent completing outcome measure assessments.