SECURe: Developing an Integrated Social, Emotional, and Cognitive Understanding and Regulation Intervention
Co-Principal Investigators: Daniel Keating, Robin Jacob, Stephanie Jones, and Nancy A. Madden
Purpose: Intervention programs that target literacy skills have proven successful in boosting at-risk children's academic achievement. Yet the gains for these children, while important, are modest and often fall short of closing the achievement gap that emerges early in development. Emerging research evidence suggests that social-emotional understanding and self-regulation skills contribute in important ways to academic success in the early grades. In the present study, the research team will develop an intervention program that combines the Success for All (SFA) Elementary Reading program (K to 3) with a new set of curricular interventions designed to foster students' social, emotional, and cognitive understanding and regulation skills (SECURe). The goal of this integrated intervention will be to maximize academic achievement for all children, but particularly for those children from low-income households or minority families, or with English language challenges.
Project Activities: In Year 1, the research team will develop and field test 39 SECURe lessons for each grade level (K to 3). Revisions to the lessons will be made using teacher interview, observation, and focus group data collected during this first year. In Year 2, the revised version of the SECURe intervention will be field tested using an experimental design. Five Success for All (SFA) schools will be randomly assigned to implement the newly created SFA/SECURe protocol, and another five SFA schools will continue to implement the SFA reading program only. Data collected during this field trial will be used to make further refinements to the program and to determine the promise of the intervention for improving student outcomes. In Year 3, all 10 of these schools will implement the combined SFA/SECURe program. Data from this second year of the field trial will be used to (1) make further refinements to the intervention as needed, (2) determine the promise of the intervention for improving student outcomes, and (3) explore potential differential impact of one versus two years of implementation.
Products: The expected product of this study is an integrated intervention designed to target young children's social, emotional, and cognitive self-regulation skills while simultaneously addressing the development of literacy skills in the early elementary grades. The research team will also develop all training manuals, lesson plans, and materials, as well as measures to assess fidelity of implementation.
Setting: The research will take place in 20 elementary schools located in a large urban center in Georgia.
Population: Teachers and their students in kindergarten, first, second and third grade classrooms will participate in the development and field testing activities.
Intervention: The integrated intervention will include elements that target children's social, emotional, and cognitive understanding and regulation skills (SECURe) along with their developing literacy skills using the Success for All (SFA) Elementary Reading program. The SFA program uses a 90-minute reading block in which students are grouped homogeneously across grade levels based on achievement. For kindergarten and first grade students, the Reading Roots lessons include instruction on phonics, fluency, comprehension, and writing, as well as activities to support oral language development. For second and third grade students, the Reading Wings lessons target specific reading skills and strategies related to comprehension, word recognition, vocabulary, fluency, and writing.
The SFA whole school reform program includes a SECURe component, Getting Along Together (GAT), delivered as ten 45-minute lessons at the start of the school year. These lessons focus on specific cognitive regulation skills (e.g., listening) and conflict resolution skills. The research team will build upon the GAT lessons by developing new lessons that integrate other approaches and constructs targeting a wider variety of social, emotional, and cognitive self-regulation skills. The goal is to provide specific lessons distributed throughout the entire school year, integrating SECURe skills into broader school activities (e.g., lunch, arrival and dismissal) and content area instruction (reading).
Research Design and Methods: In Year 1, the research team will develop 39 lessons, including all training materials and manuals, for each grade level (K to 3). Activities and materials from SFA's GAT curriculum and other existing programs targeting social-emotional skills will be reviewed, and support materials, manuals, and implementation monitoring tools will be developed in consultation with teachers in 10 SFA schools. Observations and interviews during field testing of the procedures and materials will be used to refine the program. The program will be further refined during field testing with 10 new SFA schools in Years 2 and 3. The promise of the intervention for enhancing children's literacy and social, emotional and cognitive understanding and regulation skills will be assessed in this second set of 10 SFA schools during the second and third years of the project. In Year 2, five schools will be randomly assigned to implement the combined SFA/SECURe intervention and the remaining schools will serve as the control group and implement the SFA Elementary Reading program without the SECURe components. Pre-post comparisons on a wide variety of social, emotional, and cognitive measures will be used to compare student outcomes in the two experimental groups. In Year 3, the five treatment schools will continue to implement the combined program and the five control schools will begin to implement the combined program, allowing the researchers to examine possible effects of amount of exposure (one versus two years) on student outcomes. Throughout field testing in Years 2 and 3, the research team will continue to collect data through teacher interviews, focus groups, and observations to improve the feasibility and usability of the program.
Control Condition: The five schools serving as controls in Year 2 will implement the SFA Elementary Reading program without the SECURe components.
Key Measures: Data will be collected in four outcome domains: (1) Literacy skills will be assessed with the Reading Fluency subtest of the Gray Oral Reading Test, (GORT), and the Letter-Word Identification, Passage Comprehension, and Picture Vocabulary Subscales of the Woodcock-Johnson Test of Academic Achievement (WJIII). (2) Cognitive Regulation skills will be assessed with the Child Behavior Rating Scale (CBRS) and the Head-Toes-Knees-Shoulders (HTKS) task. Fidelity of implementation will be assessed through researcher-developed rating scales the Team Score Sheets used in the SFA literacy curriculum. (3) Emotional processes will be assessed using a variety of measures, including the ECLS-K1 adaptation of the Task Orientation/Approaches to Learning Scale on the Social Skills Rating System (SSRS), the Social Competence Scale-Teacher Version, the Emotion Recognition Questionnaire, the Interview on Emotional Experiences (IEE), and the Children's Empathy Questionnaire. (4) Interpersonal skills will be measured using two subscales of the Home Interview, Hostile Attributional Biases and Aggressive Interpersonal Negotiation Strategies, and the Social Problem Solving Measure. Behavior will be measured using the Behavior Assessment Scale for Children (BASC) and a child self-report measure, the Aggression Scale, and a seven-item measure of the frequency of delinquent behaviors.
Data Analytic Strategy: At the beginning and end of Years 2 and 3, 10 randomly sampled students from each classroom, 300 students in total, will be assessed in 4 outcome domains: literacy skills, cognitive regulation skills, emotional processes, and interpersonal skills. Multivariate Analysis of Variance will be used to determine the promise of the intervention for improving student literacy and social-emotional and cognitive regulation skills, and to make further refinements and revisions to the intervention.