A Randomized Controlled Trial of Student Success Skills: A Program to Improve Academic Achievement for All Students
Previous Award Number: R305A110470
Previous Awardee: Florida Atlantic University
Co-Principal Investigators: Greg Brigman, Elizabeth Villares, and John Carey (University of Massachusetts, Amherst)
Purpose: The Student Success Skills (SSS) program was developed to teach students fundamental learning, social, and self-management skills that have been demonstrated to support improved academic achievement. SSS is based on a strong body of theoretical and empirical research and uses developmentally appropriate student lessons, activities, and teaching strategies. The program has been widely used in elementary, middle, and high schools across the country for the past 7 years. Four previous studies have supported the efficacy of the SSS program in impacting academic outcomes for students who participate in the whole-class and small group components of the intervention. This project will evaluate Student Success Skills (SSS) implemented as a whole-class intervention only in 5th grade, to determine effects on social, behavioral and academic outcomes for students who participate.
Project Activities: In this efficacy study, 60 schools will be randomly assigned to implement the SSS intervention in 5th grade classrooms or to continue with their typical practices around social skill instruction or support. Student self-report ratings and teacher ratings will be collected pre- and post-intervention during the 5th grade year. School record data will be collected prior to the intervention year to be used as covariates in later analyses and at the end of the 5th grade and 6th grade year to assess impact of the intervention on end-of-year state assessments, school grades, and school attendance.
Products: Products from this study include published reports on the evidence of the effects of participating in the whole class intervention, Student Success Skills (SSS). These reports will focus primarily on student behavioral and academic outcomes.
Setting: The study will take place in schools located in two large school districts in Florida.
Population: Thirty elementary schools will be selected from each of the two districts for a total of 60 schools. Students in these districts represent diverse ethnic backgrounds and a high percentage of students come from low socioeconomic backgrounds.
Intervention: Student Success Skills (SSS) was developed to teach fundamental learning, social, and self-management skills to students to improve cognitive engagement, behavior, self-efficacy, and the ability to perform under pressure. SSS skills and strategies are introduced by school counselors through five classroom lessons. Teachers are also trained in the facilitation of SSS and will model, cue, and coach the use of SSS strategies in daily learning activities to help students master the curriculum throughout the school year. The program is fully developed, in widespread use, and supported by structured manuals.
Research Design and Methods: This study will use an experimental design with random assignment of schools within district to either treatment or comparison conditions. The first year is devoted to start up activities including random assignment of schools and training for school staff. In Year 2, the SSS intervention will be implemented in 5th grade classrooms in the treatment schools and data will be collected at three time points: (1) before implementation of the intervention, (2) two months after the completion of the five SSS lessons, and (3) again at the end of the school year. School record data will be collected at the beginning and end of the 5th grade year. In Year 3, school record data will be collected at the end of the 6th grade year for students who participated in the study during 5th grade. Electronic activity logs will be used to monitor fidelity of implementation and practices in the comparison schools. Fifth grade teachers and school counselors in comparison schools will be offered the opportunity to receive SSS training and materials following the final data collection point in Year 3. In the final year of the project, SSS will be provided to control group teachers and school counselors as requested.
Control Condition: Comparison schools will conduct and record business-as-usual activities.
Key Measures: Measures include teacher reports (e.g., the Student Participation Questionnaire), student self-reports (e.g., the Self-Efficacy for Self-Regulated Learning Scale), and institutional data (Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test–FCAT standardized test scores, attendance, and grades). Process measures will assess fidelity of intervention implementation and level to which teachers model, cue, and coach students to use SSS strategies throughout the year.
Data Analysis: Hierarchical linear models will be used to assess the effects of SSS on proximal student outcomes (e.g., social skills and behaviors) and student achievement.
Brigman, G., Wells, C., Webb, L., Villares, E., Carey, J.C., and Harrington, K. (2015). Psychometric Properties and Confirmatory Factor Analysis of the Student Engagement in School Success Skills. Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling and Development, 48(1), 3–14.
Carey, J., Brigman, G., Webb, L., Villares, E., & Harrington, K. (2014). Development of an Instrument to Measure Student Use of Academic Success Skills: An Exploratory Factor Analysis. Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling and Development, 47(3), 171–180.