Students, Parents, and Teachers on Track: Intervention Development for Youth with Emotional Disturbance
Purpose: Students with emotional disturbance (ED) are often removed from their mainstream educational settings and placed in highly structured treatment settings (e.g., alternative schools) where intensive services are provided to the student. When students return to their general education home school, those services and supports abruptly stop, leading to difficult transitions for students and an increased likelihood of poor educational outcomes (e.g., dropout). The purpose of this project is to develop and pilot test an intervention, On Track, for middle school students with ED that is intended to promote successful student transitions from a treatment setting to neighborhood middle schools.
Project Activities: The research will take place in three phases: development, feasibility testing, and pilot testing. During the initial development phase, the materials and procedures for each of the intervention components will be developed, and information gathered from teacher and parent focus groups will be used to revise the components. Feasibility testing will include implementing the components of the intervention first with a member of the research team as the case manager and then with school personnel serving as the case manager. Data collected through focus groups of school administrators, parents, and teachers will be used to inform the development process. The pilot test will occur during year three, and will determine whether the intervention shows promise for improving student behavior and academic outcomes, parental engagement and academic support of students, and implementation of transition plans at receiving middle schools.
Products: The product will be a fully developed version of On Track, a 9-month intervention designed to facilitate transition of students with ED from a self-contained day school to their respective home middle schools. Additional products include published reports and presentations on the feasibility and promise of the intervention.
Setting: The project will take place in an alternative day treatment school and general education middle schools in Oregon.
Population: A total of 20 students in Grades 6 through 8 who are eligible for special education under the emotional disturbed category will participate. In addition, parents, teachers and teacher aides of all participating students at the day treatment school (6 teachers and 4 aides, n = 10) and the home school (n = 40) will participate. A subsample of parents (n = 10) and teachers (n = 10) will also be recruited to participate in focus groups.
Intervention: The intervention will have four components: (a) behavioral progress monitoring, (b) parent support, (c) skills coaching, and (d) case management. The intervention will be implemented during the last 3 months when students are attending a self-contained day school and preparing to transition back to their home middle school. It will then continue in the students' home middle school for 6 months after they transition to their home school.
Research Design and Methods: This development project will follow an iterative design process consisting of focus groups and trial implementations followed by revisions. Data from school-based personnel and students will be used to identify issues regarding the intervention's feasibility, usability, and acceptability. Data on the potential impact on student behavior, parental engagement, and school support of the students will also be collected in addition to information on the implementation of transition plans at receiving middle schools. For the pilot study, a quasi-experimental design will be utilized in which On Track will be compared to services as usual. Qualitative and quantitative data will be collected at baseline, followed by 3, 6, and 9 school months post-baseline for each student.
Control Group: For the pilot study, the comparison group will be students from the day school (and their parents and teachers) transitioning to their home middle schools with the usual services provided.
Key Measures: Four main types of outcomes will be measured: (a) transition outcomes (services following students to the home school), (b) student outcomes (decreased problem/increased positive behaviors), (c) parent outcomes (reinforcement system for home study time), and (d) feasibility outcomes (parent and teacher satisfaction, adherence, competence). Multi-method, multi-reporter measures include a blend of standardized measures, direct observations, and student record data.
Data Analytic Strategy: Qualitative and quantitative data will be used in an iterative evaluation and refinement process. Qualitative focus group data will be coded and analyzed to identify emerging patterns and themes. Quantitative analyses will be used to revise and refine On Track and evaluate intervention outcomes.
Journal article, monograph, or newsletter
Buchanan, R., Nese, R.N.T., Palinkas, L.A., and Ruppert, T. (2015). Refining an Intervention for Students With Emotional Disturbance Using Qualitative Parent and Teacher Data. Children and Youth Services Review, 58: 41–49. doi:10.1016/j.childyouth.2015.08.014
Buchanan, R., Nese, R.T., and Clark, M. (2016). Stakeholders' Voices: Defining Needs of Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders Transitioning between School Settings. Behavioral Disorders, 41(3): 135–147. doi:10.17988/BD-15–73.1 Full text
Buchanan, R., Ruppert, T., and Cariveau, T. (2016). Transition Supports for At-Risk Students: A Case Example. Journal of At-Risk Issues, 19(2): 9–15.