Nuestras Familias: Refining an Evidence-based Intervention to Promote Latino Student Academic Success and Positive Behavioral Outcomes through School-Family Partnerships
Purpose: In this project, researchers will develop and test the Escuelas y Familias: Somos Juntos (Schools and Families: We're Together) program to support school success for Latino middle school students. This program will be based on Nuestras Familias (NF), a culturally-specific intervention that provides direct support to immigrant Latino parents. Prior efficacy studies indicate NF improves behavioral outcomes closely linked to academic and school success for Latino middle school students. The new intervention will incorporate more school-relevant content into the parent component. It will also include new components designed specifically for teachers and school personnel to reinforce the parent component and a component that supports home-school communication and parent engagement in their child's school experience.
Project Activities: In the first two project years, the researchers will modify the existing parent component and develop the new components using a five-phase iterative approach. Professional and community stakeholders, who are expert in working with Latino families, and students, parents, teachers, and school administrators, will provide feedback to inform this iterative process prior to an initial field trial in one middle school. In the final year, the researchers will randomly assign middle schools to implement the Juntos program or to serve as control schools to determine feasibility and fidelity of program implementation and potential impacts on students, families, and teachers.
Products: Researchers will produce the Escuelas y Familias: Somos Juntos (Schools and Families: We're Together) program to support school success for Latino middle school students. The research team also intends to publish their findings in peer-reviewed publications.
Setting: This study will take place in three school districts in Oregon.
Sample: The participants in this study are immigrant Latino families (primarily from Mexico) with at least one Spanish-speaking parent and a U.S.-born or foreign-born child attending middle school in one of the participating school districts. Latino students, their parents, and teachers and administrators in one middle school will participate in the development and field trial testing. About 120 Latino students, 210 Latino parents, 36 teachers, and 14 administrators across six middle schools will participate in the final pilot study.
Intervention: The Escuelas y Familias: Somos Juntos (Schools and Families: We're Together) program to support school success for Latino middle school students will have three primary components. The first component is based on an existing intervention, Nuestras Familias (NF) that will be adapted to include more school-relevant content. The NF program includes 13 weekly sessions for Latino parents and has been fully developed, manualized, and tested in previous efficacy studies. It uses instruction, discussion, modeling, role playing, and home practice to enhance parenting skills in academic engagement, encouragement, homework involvement, monitoring, discipline, and problem solving. The program is infused with elements intended to address cultural experiences and strengths of Latino families. The second component is a two-part school component: a workshop for all school personnel to introduce fundamental tenets of the parent program; and training for teachers to increase awareness of Latino culture and barriers to school success for Latino students. The final component is training to help Latino parents and school staff work together to support Latino students in school. The second and third components will be partly based on a model entitled "Miles de Manos" that has been developed and implemented in Central America. These new components will also be informed by behavioral support and restorative discipline approaches to encourage positive teacher-student and peer relationships within schools.
Research Design and Methods: Over the first two years, the researchers will develop and refine the intervention components through five planned iterative cycles. A combination of interviews, discussions, and focus groups with relevant stakeholders and field testing in one middle school will inform the iterative development process. In the final year, the team will randomly assign six middle schools (one matched pair from each of the three participating districts) to the Juntos program or a business as usual control group. Researchers will assess participants at baseline, post-intervention, and 12-month follow-up to determine potential impacts on student, family, and teacher outcomes.
Control Condition: Middle schools randomly assigned to the control group will continue to conduct typical practices.
Key Measures: The researchers will measure social contextual stressors for the participating families (e.g., the Acculturation Rating for Mexican-Americans II, the Hispanic Familism Scale, and the Brief Symptom Inventory). Researchers will measure parenting practices using researcher-developed interview protocols with parents and children. The research team will assess teacher practices using the Symbolic Racism 2000 questionnaire, the School Success Profile and the Teacher Sense of Efficacy Scale-Short Form-Adapted. The team will assess school engagement using the Parent Teacher Involvement Measure from the Fast Track Project and the Student School Engagement Survey. Researchers will assess school outcomes using Smarter Balanced Assessment results (math, reading, science, and writing), course grades, attendance, and exclusionary discipline incidents, and will measure student behavioral health outcomes using the Peer Involvement and Social Skills scale, the CES-Depression Scale, and the Child Behavior Checklist. Researchers will adapt measures of implementation fidelity used in prior evaluations of Nuestras Familias for use in this study, and will also assess school climate.
Data Analytic Strategy: In the development and field testing phases, researchers will use Grounded Theory to guide qualitative analysis of the interview, discussion, and focus group data. In the pilot study phase, researchers will use hierarchical linear growth models to determine potential impact of the intervention on student adjustment, family environment, parenting practices, school engagement, and academic achievement. Researchers will test hypothesized mediation pathways (e.g., the Juntos program will lead to increased school engagement which will lead to greater academic achievement).