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​​​​​Conditions for LearningConditions for Learning BibliographyDownload Conditions for Learning​ Bibliography

This annotated bibliography provides a range of research publications and other resources on conditions for learning. The first set of articles provides background information on adolescents' perceptions of their own well-being and their levels of engagement in health-risk behaviors (such as violence and delinquent behavior, drug and alcohol use, risky sexual behaviors, unhealthy dietary behaviors, and physical inactivity).

The second set of articles is centered on school connectedness, a key aspect of conditions for learning, and one that can have a protective influence in reducing health-risk behaviors. Collectively, this set of articles points to the importance of school-aged children feeling a sense of belonging in their school environment. Research shows that when students feel connected to school, they have better academic outcomes, they are less likely to drop out of school, and they are less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol. The studies annotated below explore the relationship between school connectedness and a range of student factors (such as gender, age, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, academic achievement, mental and physical health, connection to the local community, family obligations, and family relations) as well as student behaviors (such as affiliation with peer groups, substance abuse, involvement in problem behavior, sexual behavior, violence and aggression, classroom engagement, and participation in extracurricular activities). Charting the path from engagement to achievement: A report of the 2009 High School Survey of Student Engagement factors (such as school size, location, and socioeconomic status) and school practices (such as teacher support, classroom management, school safety, health and disciplinary policies). Bullying and peer exclusion is explored in a subset of these articles. Most of the studies focus on middle and high school students, although some include elementary school students as well.

The third set of articles focuses on practices that are designed to foster the social and emotional learning of children in schools. These publications explore the efficacy of specific programs and supports such as: Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies (PATHS); Reading, Writing, Respect, and Resolution (4Rs); after-school programs; mindfulness education and meditation; Roots of Empathy; Good Behavior Game; Responsive Classroom; and Second Step. Implementation and assessment of social and emotional learning (SEL) programs are also explored. The final set of articles is centered on the particular learning needs of English language learners.

Adolescent Health and Health-Risk Behaviors

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2006). Youth risk behavior surveillance—United States, 2005 (MMWR, 55[SS-5], pp. 1–108). Retrieved from http://casel.org/wp-content/uploads/SS5505.pdf

This report presents findings from The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS), which monitors six categories of priority health-risk behaviors among youth and young adults, namely: behaviors that contribute to unintentional injuries and violence; tobacco use; alcohol and other drug use; sexual behaviors that contribute to unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs); unhealthy dietary behaviors; and physical inactivity. This report summarizes results from a national school-based survey conducted by Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 40 state surveys, and 21 local surveys administered to students in Grades 9–12 during the period October 2004–January 2006.

Since 1991, the prevalence of many health-risk behaviors among high school students nationwide has decreased. However, many high school students continue to engage in behaviors that place them at risk for the leading causes of mortality and morbidity. Seventy-one percent of all deaths among persons 10–24 years old in the United States result from four causes: motor vehicle crashes, other unintentional injuries, homicide, and suicide. YRBSS findings indicated that, during the 30 days preceding the survey, many high school students engaged in behaviors that increased their likelihood of death from these four causes: 9.9 percent had driven a car or other vehicle when they had been drinking alcohol; 18.5 percent had carried a weapon; 43.3 percent had consumed alcohol; and 20.2 percent had used marijuana.

Greene, J., & Forster, G. (2004). Sex, drugs, and delinquency in urban and suburban public schools from the National Institute of Child Health and Human DevelopmentEducation working paper (4).

This study compares the behaviors of public high school students in suburban and urban areas with regard to having sex, drinking, using drugs, and delinquency. This study draws on data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, sponsored by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and other federal agencies, and one of the nation's largest and most rigorous studies of adolescent behavior. Survey data from 1995, 1996, and 2001–02 were used to compare the behaviors of high school students in urban and suburban schools. Results showed that suburban public high school students have sex, drink, smoke, use illegal drugs, and engage in delinquent behavior as often as urban public high school students.

The authors point out that, for the last several decades, middle-class families have been fleeing from the cities to the suburbs, believing that suburban public schools provide children with safer, more orderly, and more wholesome environments than their urban counterparts. However, findings from this study would suggest that the perception that parents are protecting their children from engaging in these behaviors by fleeing to the suburbs appears to be unfounded.

Juvonen, J., Le, V., Kaganoff, T., Augustine, C., & Constant, L. (2004). Conditions for student learning. In J. Juvonen, V. Le, T. Kaganoff, C. Augustine, & L. Constant (Eds.), Focus on the wonder years: Challenges facing the American middle school (pp. 46–60). Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation. Retrieved from http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monographs/2004/RAND_MG139.pdf

In Chapter 5, titled "Conditions for Student Learning," the authors compare middle school students' perceptions of their own well-being and social environments to those of their peers in 11 other countries. Researchers used data from the Health Behavior in School-Aged Children (HBSC) survey, administered to 11-, 13-, and 15-year-olds in Europe, North America, and Israel, to conduct an analysis of school-related questions and indicators of student psychosocial adjustment based on data collected in 1997 and 1998.

International comparisons of the HBSC data show that, as compared with their peers in other countries, U.S. middle school-age students report the highest levels of emotional and physical problems, view the climate of their schools most negatively, and consider the peer culture in school to be unkind and unsupportive. U.S. students ranked within the top half of the 12 countries on teacher support, parental involvement, and lack of perceived pressure to do well in school.

School Connectedness

Akey, T. M. (2006). School context, student attitudes and behavior, and academic achievement: An exploratory analysis. New York: MDRC. Retrieved from http://casel.org/wp-content/uploads/full.pdf

This exploratory analysis draws on data collected for MDRC's evaluation of the First Things First school reform initiative, examining student surveys and administrative records data for 449 students in three high schools in a large urban school district during the 2001–02, 2002–03, and 2003–04 school years. This paper examines the relationships among three constructs—school context, student attitudes and behavior, and achievement—using the longitudinal data from this large-scale high school reform effort. Findings suggest correlations among student achievement, engagement in school, perceived competence, and school context and provide some evidence about the direction and nature of the linkages among these constructs. However, the author points out that the analysis is exploratory in nature and the study has several limitations associated with the sample of students in the analysis, the data collection methods and measures, and the overall modeling approach and specification of the model.

Bridgeland, J. M., Dilulio, Jr., J. J., & Morison, K. B. (2006). The silent epidemic: Perspectives of high school dropouts. Washington, DC: Civic Enterprises. Retrieved from
http://casel.org/wp-content/uploads/thesilentepidemic3-06.pdf

This report is based on data collected from focus groups and interviews with ethnically and racially diverse 16–25-year-olds who dropped out of public high schools in 25 different locations—including large cities, suburbs, and small towns—with high dropout rates. Four focus groups and 467 individual interviews were conducted across a sample that was not intended to be nationally representative.

Findings suggest that while some students drop out because of significant academic challenges, most dropouts are students who could have, and believe they could have, succeeded in school. There was no single reason indicated for why students drop out of high school. Rather, clusters of reasons or common responses emerged relating to the academic environment, real life events, and a lack of personal motivation and external sources of motivation and guidance. The decision to drop out appeared to be a personal one, reflecting unique life circumstances, and part of a slow process of disengagement from school. Implications for improving policies and practices in order to prevent dropout are discussed.

Catalano, R., Fleming, C., Haggerty, K., Hawkins, D., & Oesterle, S. (2004). The importance of bonding to school for healthy development: Findings from the Social Development Research Group. Journal of School Health, 74(7), 252–261. Retrieved from http://casel.org/wp-content/uploads/Septemberissue.pdf

This paper is one in a series on School Connectedness—Strengthening Health and Education Outcomes for Teenagers. It summarizes investigations of school connectedness completed by the Social Development Research Group in two longitudinal studies, the Seattle Social Development Project and Raising Healthy Children. These studies provide evidence of the importance of school bonding for promoting healthy development of young people. The term school bonding consists of two primary and interdependent components: (1) attachment, characterized by close affective relationships with those at school; and (2) commitment, characterized by an investment in school and doing well in school. The quasi-experimental study of the Seattle Social Development Project (SSDP) included four conditions: (1) the full intervention group (n = 156) received the intervention package from Grades 1–6; (2) the late intervention group (n = 267) received the intervention in Grades 5 and 6 only; (3) the parent-training-only condition (n = 141) received only the parent training package in Grades 5 and 6; and (4) the control group (n = 220) received no special intervention. Teachers, parents, and students were interviewed annually. In the study of the Raising Healthy Children (RHC) project, five schools were randomly assigned to the experimental intervention condition, and five schools were assigned to the no-intervention control condition. Data were collected from teacher, parent, and child surveys, observations of project teachers in Grades 1–7, and school records on test scores, grades, attendance, and disciplinary actions. Both studies demonstrated that school bonding promotes academic success, reduces barriers to learning, and reduces health and safety problems. The theoretical importance of school connectedness, empirical support for the theoretical propositions of the impact of school connectedness on a variety of problem and positive behaviors, and the impact of interventions to improve school connectedness as a mechanism to improve outcomes for children and adolescents are described.

Connell, J., & Klem, A. (2004). Relationships matter: Linking teacher support to student engagement and achievement. Journal of School Health, 74(7), 262–273. Retrieved from http://casel.org/wp-content/uploads/Septemberissue.pdf

This paper is one in a series on School Connectedness—Strengthening Health and Education Outcomes for Teenagers. The study examined links between teacher support and student engagement and achievement, using initial data from a sample of students in elementary, middle, and high school in an urban school district implementing the First Things First school-reform framework. Longitudinal data sets collected by the Institute for Research and Reform in Education to validate the Research Assessment Package for Schools (RAPS) were used. Results indicated that teacher support is important to student engagement in school as reported by students and teachers. Students who perceived teachers as creating a caring, well-structured learning environment in which expectations are high, clear, and fair were more likely to report engagement in school. In turn, high levels of engagement were associated with higher attendance and test scores.

Cunningham, E., Wang, W., & Bishop, N. (2005, December). Challenges to student engagement and school effectiveness indicators. Paper presented at the Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE) International Research Conference, University of Western Sydney, Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia. Retrieved from http://publications.aare.edu.au/05pap/cun05478.pdf

This study examines indicators of student engagement and school effectiveness as part of public accountability systems in Victoria, Australia. A questionnaire was administered to two cohorts of female students, 13–17 years old; one group of 99 students from a socioeconomically low-resourced school and another group of 97 students from a socioeconomically high-resourced school. Differences between the two cohorts on a number of accountability measures were examined, including: student perceptions of school engagement (i.e., sense of connection to school, teachers and peers), motivation to learn, self-esteem, and student safety. Contrary to expectations, no significant differences were found between low- and high-resourced schools on student engagement measures or measures of motivation to learn or self-esteem. The only significant finding was that females from the high-resourced school reported higher levels of student safety (i.e., fewer bullying behaviors) than females from the low-resourced school. The authors point out that the findings from this study raise questions about the suitability of these indicators as measures of student engagement and school effectiveness.

Falci, C., & McNeely, C. (2004). School connectedness and the transition into and out of health-risk behavior among adolescents: A comparison of social belonging and teacher support. Journal of School Health, 74(7), 284–292. Retrieved from http://casel.org/wp-content/uploads/Septemberissue.pdf

This paper is one in a series on School Connectedness—Strengthening Health and Education Outcomes for Teenagers. It explores two dimensions of school connectedness—perceived teacher support and social belonging—and the initiation, escalation and reduction of participation in six adolescent health-risk behaviors (cigarette smoking, drinking to the point of getting drunk, marijuana use, suicidal ideation or attempt, first sexual intercourse, and weapon related violence). Data were drawn from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, a nationally representative sample of American adolescents in Grades 7–12 in 1995.

The results of this study show that adolescents who perceive that their teachers are fair and care about them—referred to as teacher support—are less likely to initiate any of the six health-risk behaviors. However, results suggest that these same actions may not promote cessation of health-risk behaviors once they have been initiated. These findings suggest that middle schools are a particularly important target for promoting supportive teacher relationships, because most middle schools students have not yet experimented with health-risk behaviors.

Furlong, M., Sharkey, J., Quirk, M., & Dowdy, E. (2011). Exploring the protective and promotive effects of school connectedness on the relation between psychological health risk and problem behaviors/experiences. Journal of Educational and Developmental Psychology, 1(1), 18–34. doi: 10.5539/jedp.v1n1p18

This study examines the potential protective (lower frequency of problem behaviors primarily in the presence of high risk) and promotive (lower frequency of problem behaviors primarily in conditions of low risk) developmental influences of school connectedness in adolescents. Data were drawn from students enrolled in one of four California school districts in a medium-sized city in a semirural area. Participating districts were involved in the Safe Schools/Healthy Students initiative, a nationally funded effort to support collaboration between schools and community agencies to reduce substance abuse, decrease violence, and to increase the availability of mental health services. The sample included 3,220 students in Grades 8, 10, and 12 who completed self-reports of their psychological health risk, perceptions of school connectedness, and involvement in problem behaviors or experiences. Taking a person-focused data analysis approach, a series of multinomial logistic regressions found that although school connectedness was protective for involvement in problem behaviors or experiences, more support was found for its promotive influences. Implications for research and practice are discussed.

Furrer, C., & Skinner, E. (2003). Sense of relatedness as a factor in children's academic engagement and performance. Journal of Educational Psychology, 95(1), 148–162. doi: 10.1037/0022-0663.95.1.148

This study explores the effects of children's sense of relatedness (both generally and toward specific social partners) on children's academic motivation and performance during middle childhood. The study sample included 641 children in third through sixth grades in a suburban–rural school district comprised of mostly middle-class and working-class families (approximately 95 percent Caucasian). Findings revealed that children's reports of relatedness predicted changes in classroom engagement over the school year and contributed over and above the effects of perceived control. Relatedness to parents, teachers, and peers each uniquely contributed to students' engagement, especially emotional engagement. Girls reported higher relatedness than boys, but relatedness to teachers was a more salient predictor of engagement for boys. Feelings of relatedness to teachers dropped from fifth to sixth grade, but the effects of relatedness on engagement were stronger for sixth graders.

Goldenberg, C., Rueda, R., & August, D. (2008). Sociocultural contexts and literacy development (Chapter 5). In D. August & T. Shanahan (Eds.), Developing reading and writing in second-language learners: Lessons from the report of the National Literacy Panel on language-minority children and youth (pp. 95–129). Retrieved from http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=pyCDXfKK-ZMC&oi=fnd&pg=PA95&dq=diane august culturally linguistically diverse students&ots=dYMsSd1q79&sig=WCk2ubjuy1DrerOmHofmzDS3avk

This chapter reviews and evaluates empirical evidence on the role of sociocultural factors in the literacy development of language-minority children and youth. The authors address the influences of sociocultural factors on first- and second-language literacy outcomes and the nature of these factors in settings where language-minority children are acquiring literacy.

The studies reviewed in this chapter address the following questions:

  • What is the influence of immigration on literacy development?
  • What is the influence of differences in discourse and interaction characteristics between children's homes and classrooms?
  • What is the influence of other sociocultural characteristics of students and teachers?
  • What is the influence of parents and families?
  • What is the influence of policies at the district, state, and federal levels?
  • What is the influence of language status or prestige?

The studies included in the review employed correlational, experimental, comparative, ethnographic, observational, or case study designs and they used quantitative or qualitative methods. To be eligible for inclusion, a study had to report data on (1) factors in one or more of the six research questions; and (2) student outcomes (cognitive, affective, or behavioral) presumably influenced by one or more of these factors.

For each research question, a summary of findings and recommendations for future research are provided.

Gregory, A., Russell, J. S., & Noguera, P. (2010). The achievement gap and the discipline gap: Two sides of the same coin? Educational Researcher, 39(1), 59–68.

This editorial piece reviews research on how disproportionate discipline might contribute to lower achievement among minority students. To examine this topic, authors review poverty and neighborhood characteristics, low achievement, differential behavior, and differential selection. The authors conclude the article by suggesting promising directions for gap-reducing discipline policies and practices.

Henry, K., Stanley, L., Edwards, R., Harkabus, L., & Chapin, L. (2009). Individual and contextual effects of school adjustment on adolescent alcohol use. Prevention Science, 10(3), 236–247. doi: 10.1007/s11121-009-0124-2

This study examines the effect of a student's own school adjustment as well as the contextual level of school adjustment (the normative level of school adjustment among students in a school) on the student's self-reported use of alcohol. A dataset of 43,465 male and female eighth-grade students from 349 schools across the contiguous United States who participated in a national study of substance use in rural communities between 1996 and 2000 was used for the analyses. Students anonymously completed the Community Drug and Alcohol Survey (CDAS), a 99-item survey that asks a variety of questions related to substance use; school adjustment; relationships with family and peers; and other individual risk factors for substance use. Multilevel latent covariate models were utilized to analyze the individual-level and contextual effects of three school adjustment variables (i.e., school bonding, behavior at school, and friend's school bonding) on alcohol use and all three were found to be significant predictors of alcohol use both within and between schools. Furthermore, students who attended schools where the overall level of school adjustment was higher reported lower levels of alcohol use even after taking their own school adjustment into account. The results demonstrate the importance of both a student's own level of school adjustment and the normative level of school adjustment among students in the school on an adolescent's use of alcohol, suggesting that school adjustment is an important aspect of school climate.

Lee, V. E., Smith, J. B., Perry, T. E., & Smylie, M. A. (1999). Social support, academic press, and student achievement: A view from the middle grades in Chicago. Chicago: Consortium on Chicago School Research.

This study examined the relationship between student social support and school academic press or rigor to gains in student academic achievement in Chicago public schools.Taking middle school student survey data and achievement test scores, analyses revealed that levels of both social support and school academic rigor were positively related to student achievement in reading and mathematics. The authors assert that communicating high expectations for achievement and offering consistent help for students to meet those expectations were equally important.

McNeely, C., Nonnemaker, J., & Blum, R. (2002). Promoting school connectedness: Evidence from the national longitudinal study of adolescent health. Journal of School Health, 72(4), 138–146. Retrieved from http://www2.gsu.edu/~wwwche/Promoting School Connectedness Evidence from the Nat'l Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health.pdf

This study examines the association between school connectedness and the school environment to identify ways to increase students' connectedness to school. Data were drawn from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health—a longitudinal study of adolescents in Grades 7 through 12—which offers the only current, nationally representative dataset of information on both students' feelings of connectedness and school attributes. A confidential paper-and-pencil survey was administered to all students in each sample school during the 1994–95 school year. A total of 75,515 students in 127 schools participated. School administrators in each school also completed self-administered questionnaires about school policies and procedures, teacher characteristics, and student body characteristics. Hierarchical linear models were used to estimate the association between school characteristics and the average level of school connectedness in each school.

Positive classroom management climates, participation in extracurricular activities, tolerant disciplinary policies, and small school size were associated positively with higher school connectedness. Class size was not associated with school connectedness (even though school size was associated positively with school connectedness). School connectedness was relatively high in racially or ethnically segregated schools and lowest in integrated schools; however, some racially integrated schools had high levels of school connectedness, demonstrating that segregation is not a prerequisite for connectedness. The authors suggest that the concept of school health promotion should be expanded beyond health education, physical education, and health services. Adolescent health may also be promoted by fostering a school environment that meets adolescents' developmental need to feel like they belong and are cared for at school.

Oelsner, J., Lippold, M., & Greenberg, M. (2011). Factors influencing the development of school bonding among middle school students. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 31(3), 463–487. doi: 10.1177/0272431610366244

This quantitative research study examines the trajectory of school bonding over the middle school period and how factors such as gender, substance use, antisocial peers, delinquent behavior, and academic achievement affect this developmental process. Data were drawn from the PROmoting School-community-university Partnerships to Enhance Resilience (PROSPER) project, a large-scale effectiveness trial of preventive interventions aimed to reduce substance use among middle school students. In-school surveys were administered to 2,902 adolescents in 28 rural communities in Iowa and Pennsylvania; half were randomly assigned to the PROSPER intervention condition and half were assigned to a wait-list control group. Data from four waves of measurement were analyzed using hierarchical growth curve modeling.

Results suggest that school bonding decreases in a non-linear fashion from Grade 6–8. However, school-bonding development varies based on inter-individual differences. Boys showed lower initial levels and greater decreases in school bonding than girls. Student deviant behavior, having antisocial peers, and low academic achievement were associated with lower levels of school bonding at Grade 6. Low grades and an increase in substance use were associated with a steeper decrease of school bonding over time. Increases in substance use and being male were also associated with a curvilinear pattern of school bonding. Thus, the authors note that interventions to strengthen school bonding in middle school may need to focus on interindividual differences between children, taking into account the role of negative peer groups, child engagement in deviance and substance use, and academic achievement and targeting children most at risk for low levels of school bonding.

Osher, D., Bear, G. G., Sprague, J. R. & Doyle, W. (2010). How can we improve school discipline? Educational Researcher, 39(1), 48–58.

This article surveys three approaches to improving discipline practices in schools and student behavior: ecological approaches to classroom management, school-wide positive behavioral supports, and social and emotional learning. The research indicated that effective schools have a shared mission and purpose, promote prosocial behavior and connection to school traditions, and provide a caring climate.

Osher, D., Kendziora, K., & Chinen, M. (2008). Student connections research: Final narrative report to the Spencer Foundation. American Institutes for Research. Retrieved from http://www.air.org/files/Spencer_final_report_3_31_08.pdf

This report uses results from the Student Connection Survey to examine the relationship between student connection and student and school characteristics. Middle school students scored higher on all scale scores. Student Connection constructs—safety, academic rigor, student support, and social emotional learning skills—each relate to student- and school-level variables. Both safety and academic rigor scales were strongly related to achievement.

Osher, D., Spier, E., Kendziora, K., & Cai, C. (2009, April). Improving academic achievement through improving school climate and school connectedness. Paper presented at American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting, San Diego, CA. Retrieved from 
http://alaskaice.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/090414_AIR_AERA_
ImprovingAcademicAchievementThroughImprovingSchoolClimateandStudentConnectedness.pdf

The research presented in this paper builds upon a survey developed for the Association of Alaska School Boards (AASB) in order to evaluate the Alaska Initiative for Community Engagement (Alaska ICE), the goal of which was to engage adults in creating positive changes to promote the academic progress and overall well-being of their young people. The School Climate and Connectedness Survey (SCCS) was administered to staff and students in school districts in Alaska. The data from the survey provide schools with information about how their students and staff perceive their school climate and how students perceive their connectedness to school each year. Findings showed that not only are several aspects of school climate and connectedness related to student achievement, but positive change in school climate and connectedness is also related to significant gains in student scores on statewide achievement tests, at least when such gains are made.

Perkins, B. (2006). Where we learn: The CUBE survey of urban school climate. Alexandria, VA: Council of Urban Boards of Education, National School Boards Association. Retrieved from http://www.nsba.org/Board-Leadership/Governance/KeyWork/Climate-Resources/Where-we-learn_1.pdf

This report presents findings from a nationwide survey of students' perceptions on indicators of school climate. The 15 districts surveyed were all members of the National School Boards Association's Council of Urban Boards of Education (CUBE). Participants included 32,000 students, 6–20 years old, in 108 city schools. Findings were grouped under five categories: (1) school safety; (2) bullying; (3) trust; (4) respect; and (5) ethos of caring, racial self-concept, and general climate. Responses were tabulated as a whole and were also examined by gender, ethnicity, and grade level: elementary school, represented in this survey as Grades 4–6; middle school, Grades 7–8, and high school, Grades 9–12. Findings revealed few statistical differences in responses between male and female students, age influenced some responses, and race predicted how students would respond in almost every category. The findings were generally positive in all five categories, although specific areas of concern are discussed.

Sellstrom, E., & Bremberg, S. (2006). Is there a "school effect" on pupil outcomes? A review of multilevel studies. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 60(2), 149–155. doi: 10.1136/jech.2005.036707

This paper aims to systematically review multilevel studies of school contextual effects on pupil outcomes. Recognizing the importance of school environment for child outcomes, this study uses multilevel analyses to separate determinants operating at an individual level from those operating at a contextual level. The objective of the literature review was to clarify the impact of school context on child outcomes, independently of pupil composition. The review used systematic methodology and included only studies that used multilevel technique. Articles were reviewed to gain information on the following questions:

  • What is the evidence that school-level factors explain between school variation in pupil outcomes (that is, explained between school variance)?
  • How much of the variation in pupil outcomes is conditioned by differences between schools (that is, intraclass correlation)?
  • What theoretical frameworks have been suggested to explain between school variation in pupil outcomes?

Literature was identified through keyword searches of five databases from August to October 2003. Seventeen cross-sectional or longitudinal studies met the inclusion criteria. All studies included children under 18 years and all were performed in high income countries (Western Europe, United States, Canada, and Australia). Results were summarized with reference to type of school contextual determinant.

Despite the different pupil outcomes and the variety of determinants used in the included studies, a school effect was evident. Four main school effects on pupil outcomes were identified. Having a health policy or antismoking policy, a good school climate, high average socioeconomic status, and urban location had a positive effect on pupil outcomes. The outcomes in these studies included smoking habits and alcohol use, problem behaviors, well-being, school achievement, and physical achievement. Limitations of current research and recommendations for future research are discussed.

Shochet, I., Dadds, M., Ham, D., & Montague, R. (2006). School connectedness is an underemphasized parameter in adolescent mental health: Results of a community prediction study. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 35(2), 170–179. doi: 10.1207/s15374424jccp3502_1

This study examines the relationship between school connectedness and mental health in adolescents. The study sample included 2,022 students (999 boys and 1,023 girls), 12 to 14 years, from 14 public high schools in Queensland, New South Wales, and Tasmania, Australia. Students were measured at 2 time points (12 months apart) on school connectedness and mental health symptoms (general functioning, depression, and anxiety symptoms).

Findings revealed that school connectedness correlated extensively with concurrent mental health symptoms at both time points in time. School connectedness also predicted depressive symptoms one year later for both boys and girls, anxiety symptoms for girls, and general functioning for boys, even after controlling for prior symptoms. The reverse, however, was not true: Prior mental health symptoms did not predict school connectedness one year later when controlling for prior school connectedness. Results suggest a stronger than previously reported association with school connectedness and adolescent depressive symptoms in particular and a predictive link from school connectedness to future mental health problems.

Voight, A., Nixon, C. T., & Nation, M. (2011, April). The relationship between school climate and key educational outcomes for urban middle school students. Paper presented at the annual conference of the American Educational Research Association, New Orleans, LA.

This survey study examines the association between interpersonal relationships and student outcomes such as educational achievement, attendance, and disciplinary behavior. Survey results indicate that student perceptions of student and teacher-student relationships predicted achievement, grades, absences, and disciplinary referrals for some students. Student perceptions of their relationships with their peers predicted mathematics and reading achievement scores. These findings demonstrate a link between school climate, interpersonal relationships, and key educational outcomes.

Voisin, D., & Neilands, T. (2010). Low school engagement and sexual behaviors among African-American youth: Examining the influences of gender, peer norms, and gang involvement. Child and Youth Services Review, 32(1), 51–57. doi: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2009.06.016

This study examined whether negative peer influences (i.e., norms favoring risky sexual behavior, drug use, and gang involvement) mediated the relationship between school engagement (i.e., GPAs obtained from school records and student-teacher connectedness) and sexual behaviors (i.e., sexual début, sex without condoms, group sex, and sex while using drugs) among African-American high school adolescents, and whether these relationships varied by gender. Participants included 563 African-American adolescents (219 boys and 344 girls), 13 to 19 years old, attending a single high school in a large Midwestern city. Students completed questionnaires assessing school engagement markers, peer influences, sexual début, and risky sex (sex without condoms, group sex, and sex while using drugs).

Major findings for boys indicate that GPA was negatively associated with both sexual début and risky sex. Additionally, the relationship between student-teacher connectedness and risky sex was mediated by gang involvement. For girls, higher GPAs were associated with fewer norms favoring risky sex and drug use, and such norms were associated with sexual début. Moreover, the relationship between GPA, sexual début and risky sex was mediated by risky peer norms. The authors suggest that intervention programs to delay sexual début and reduce risky sex among youths should attend to the gendered ways through which such behaviors occur.

Wilson, D. (2004). The interface of school climate and school connectedness and relationships with aggression and victimization. Journal of School Health, 74(7), 293–299. Retrieved from http://casel.org/wp-content/uploads/Septemberissue.pdf

This paper is one in a series on School Connectedness—Strengthening Health and Education Outcomes for Teenagers. It summarizes analyses of data from the Safe Communities-Safe Schools (SCSS) initiative, comparing effects of connectedness and climate on measures of aggression and victimization. As part of the SCSS model's annual schoolwide assessment, a sample of students was surveyed at each participating school. Students were surveyed in nine middle schools and 10 high schools; findings represent cross-sectional analyses of the middle school and high school aggregate of 2,327 students in 2001–02.

The surveys included questions related to student perceptions of school discipline policies, relationships with teachers and peers, physical condition of campus, presence of gangs, attitudes toward school, victimization and perpetration of bullying, attitudes toward use of aggression, self-reported academic performance, and problem behavior. The survey was intended to gauge school climate, the prevalence of interpersonal physical and relational aggression among students.

The analysis demonstrated that even a positive school climate does not always reduce the likelihood of perpetration of aggression and victimization. Likewise, a negative school climate does not necessarily increase that risk. Despite variations in climate, the amount of connectedness experienced by the average student appears to consistently contribute to predicting his likelihood of aggression and victimization.

Zullig, K. J., Huebner, E. S., & Patton, J. M. (2011). Relationships among school climate domains and school satisfaction. Psychology in the Schools, 48(2), 133–145.

This study investigated the relationship between school climate domains and school satisfaction among 2,049 middle and high school students. Quantitative data analyses suggest that a few school climate domains are related to school satisfaction: academic support, positive student-teacher relationships, and school connectedness. The inclusion of school climate and school satisfaction measures may inform comprehensive monitoring assessments of students' school experiences.

Family and Community Relationships

Espelage, D., Aragon, S., Birkett, M., & Koenig, B. (2008). Homophobic teasing, psychological outcomes, and sexual orientation among high school students: What influences do parents and schools have? School Psychology Review, 37(2), 202–216. Retrieved from http://pdf.countyofdane.com/humanservices/youth/assessment_surveys/2009/
​​homophobic_teasing_psych_outcomes_parent_influence.pdf

This study examines the influences of parental relations and school climate on mental health outcomes for high school students who are questioning their sexual orientation. Participants were 13,921 high school students from a Midwestern U.S. public school district. Students completed a survey consisting of a range of questions related to their school experiences (bullying, homophobia, and school climate), parental support, mood, and drug-alcohol use. Students were categorized into three groups: (1) youth who identified as heterosexual, (2) youth who questioned their sexual orientation, and (3) youth who identified as lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB).

Findings revealed that sexual minority youth were more likely to report high levels of depression-suicide feelings and alcohol-marijuana use; students who were questioning their sexual orientation experienced more teasing, greater drug use, and more feelings of depression and suicide than either heterosexual or LGB students. Sexually questioning students who experienced homophobic teasing were also more likely than LGB students to use drugs-alcohol and rate their school climate as negative. Finally, positive school climate and parental support protected LGB and questioning students against depression and drug use.

Loukas, A., Roalson, L., & Herrera, D. (2010). School connectedness buffers the effects of negative family relations and poor effortful control on early adolescent conduct problems. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 20(1), 13–22. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-7795.2009.00632.x

This study examines the unique and interactive contributions of school connectedness, negative family relations, and effortful control to subsequent early adolescent conduct problems. Participants were 476 students, 10–14 years old, attending all three middle schools in a suburban district in central Texas and all were involved in a larger study. Data were collected initially in the sixth and seventh grades and again one year later.

Results showed that even after controlling for negative family relations, effortful control, baseline levels of conduct problems, and gender, school connectedness contributed to decreasing subsequent conduct problems. Examination of two- and three-way interactions indicated that high levels of school connectedness offset the adverse effects of negative family relations for boys and girls and the adverse effects of low levels of effortful control for girls. The authors point out that findings underscore the role of school connectedness as a protective factor for early adolescent conduct problems.

Petrin, R., Farmer, T., Meece, J., & Byun, S. (2011). Interpersonal competence configurations, attachment to community, and residential aspirations of rural adolescents. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 40, 1091–1105. doi: 10.1007/s10964-011-9690-2

This study examines the linkages between rural high school students' views of their communities, their postsecondary aspirations, and their school adjustment. An ethnically diverse sample of 8,754 adolescents and 667 of their teachers from 73 rural high schools across 34 states were surveyed in fall 2007 and spring 2008. Items on the teacher survey consisted of the Interpersonal Competence Scale—Teacher (ICS-T) where teachers were asked about the academic and behavioral adjustment of individual students. Items on the student survey consisted of 12 Likert items that were adapted from other studies to assess students' future residential plans and aspirations, and two items that were adapted from other studies to measure the perceived economic adversities faced by rural students. Interpersonal competence configurations were clustered into distinct behavioral types.

Results revealed that high competence students (i.e., those in configurations of high positive and low negative teacher-rated characteristics) expressed positive perceptions of their rural lifestyle and many, particularly girls, indicated an interest in staying in or returning to their home community. Low competence youth (i.e., those in configurations of low positive and high negative teacher-rated characteristics) appeared to be less connected to their community and were more likely to express their intent to leave and not return. The authors point out that these results appear to qualify current concerns about ''rural brain drain'' and suggest that the lack of attachment to the community may be a compounding risk factor for rural adolescents who have significant school adjustment problems.

Wilkinson-Lee, A., Zhang, Q., Nuno, V., & Wilhelm, M. (2011). Adolescent emotional distress: the role of family obligations and school connectedness. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 40, 221–230. doi: 10.1007/s10964-009-9494-9

This study examines the relationship among family obligations, school connectedness, and emotional distress during adolescence. Participants included 4,198 students in Grades 6–12 (59 percent European American) attending nine schools within one school district in southwest Arizona. The study utilized a secondary analysis of student survey data collected during the fourth wave of a Safe Schools Healthy Students evaluation. Hierarchical regression analyses were used to examine the relationship among family obligations, school connectedness, and emotional distress.

A significant interaction effect was found indicating that school connectedness moderated the relationship between family obligations and emotional distress. Specifically, for students with low to moderate levels of family obligations, a stronger sense of school connectedness was associated with lower emotional distress. The buffering effect of school connectedness was weakened as the level of family obligations increased and completely disappeared for students who experienced high levels of family obligations.

Bullying

Bishop, J., Bishop, M., Bishop, M., Gelbwasser, L., Green, S., Peterson, E., et al. (2004). Why we harass nerds and freaks: A formal theory of student culture and norms. Journal of School Health, 74(7), 235–251. Retrieved from http://casel.org/wp-content/uploads/Septemberissue.pdf

This paper is one in a series on School Connectedness—Strengthening Health and Education Outcomes for Teenagers. It discusses the relationship between the study behavior and academic engagement of individual students, the norms and attitudes of close friends, and the peer culture of school. Descriptions of peer culture are based on a review of ethnographic studies of adolescent peer cultures, structured and unstructured interviews conducted by the authors, and responses to survey questionnaires completed by nearly 100,000 middle school and high school students in the past four years.

Findings address two key problems in secondary schools—peer abuse of weaker, socially unskilled students, and a peer culture that discourages some students from trying their best academically. These two problems were documented by reviewing ethnographies of secondary schools, by interviewing students in eight New York State suburban high schools, and by analyzing data from questionnaires completed by 35,000 students at 134 schools. Based on these observations, a simple mathematical model was created of peer harassment and popularity and of the pressures for conformity created by the struggle for popularity. Findings revealed that having a GPA significantly above or below the school norm led to increased harassment. When a clique's commitment to academic achievement deviates significantly from the school norm, the members also experience more harassment.

Implications for school practice are discussed. The authors point out that, since the interview data was limited to public schools in predominantly white, upper-middle class neighborhoods, further work remains to assure the generalizability of findings.

Buhs, E., Ladd, G., & Herald, S. (2006). Peer exclusion and victimization: Processes that mediate the relation between peer group rejection and children's classroom engagement and achievement? Journal of Educational Psychology, 98(1), 1–13. doi: 10.1037/0022-0663.98.1.1

This study followed reported levels of peer exclusion and peer maltreatment of 380 children (190 girls) who were part of a larger investigation of children's psychological and school adjustment. These children were followed longitudinally from age 5 (kindergarten) to age 11 (fifth grade).

Results showed that early peer rejection was associated with declining classroom participation and increasing school avoidance. More specifically, it was discovered that (1) children who were less well accepted by their kindergarten classmates were at greater risk for peer maltreatment in subsequent grades; (2) chronic peer maltreatment throughout the primary school years, including sustained peer exclusion and peer abuse, forecasted later school disengagement; and (3) the association between peer group rejection in kindergarten and children's achievement during the middle-grade school years was mediated principally by their exposure to chronic peer exclusion and decelerating classroom participation. These observed linkages support the view that early peer rejection is a precursor of at least two forms of chronic peer maltreatment (exclusion, abuse), that these forms of chronic maltreatment differentially influence children's school engagement, and that chronic peer exclusion is more detrimental to children's scholastic progress.

Harris Interactive and GLSEN (2005). From teasing to torment: School climate in America, a survey of students and teachers. New York: GLSEN. Retrieved from http://www.glsenboston.org/GLSENFromTeasingToTorment.pdf

This report presents findings from an online survey commissioned by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) to explore teens' and secondary school teachers' experiences with and attitudes toward school harassment. A nationally representative sample of 3,450 students 13–18 years and 1,011 secondary school teachers were surveyed. The survey examined teens' personal experiences with harassment, as well as the overall prevalence of offensive remarks and harassment at their school and the impact of offensive behaviors on their ability to learn. Secondary teachers also contributed their perspectives on these issues and provided their views on what can be done to improve the situation. 

Two thirds of teens reported that they have been verbally or physically harassed or assaulted during the past year because of their perceived or actual appearance, gender, sexual orientation, gender expression, race or ethnicity, disability, or religion. These problems were magnified for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students, who were less likely to feel safe and more likely to experience a range of harassment. Most students who experienced harassment in school, regardless of demographics or reasons for the harassment, did not report these incidents of harassment to teachers or other school personnel, most commonly because they did not think that the event was important or serious. Teachers did not hear students make negative remarks as frequently as the students themselves, but they rated the problem of bullying and harassment as more serious.

Mishna, F. (2004). A qualitative study of bullying from multiple perspectives. Children & Schools, 26(4), 234–237.

This article describes a pilot study using qualitative methods to investigate bullying from the perspectives of the victimized children, their parents, and educators. A survey was administered to 61 students in Grades 4 and 5 from an urban multicultural public school in a large Canadian city. Individual semi-structured interviews were conducted with a subset of five children, a parent of each child, the child's teacher, vice principal, and principal. Although the findings are not generalizable because of the small sample size, they illuminate themes worthy of further investigation.

The prevailing pattern that emerged was how difficult it is to define bullying. Findings showed that defining bullying and deciding whether an incident constitutes bullying are complex and overlapping, yet distinct processes. At times, adults did not consider certain incidents bullying, whereas the child did. Several factors appeared to influence a person's decision about whether an incident is bullying, including: whether the victimized child is considered responsible; whether there is a perceived power imbalance; whether the meaning given to the incident is problematic; and whether the incident is considered serious. Implications for practice are discussed.

Nishina, A., Juvonen, J., & Witkow, M. R. (2005). Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will make me feel sick: The psychosocial, somatic, and scholastic consequences of peer harassment. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 34(1), 37–48.

This study examined the relationships among peer victimization, psychosocial problems, physical symptoms, and school functioning among middle school students. In this study, sixth graders were recruited to complete questionnaires. Quantitative analyses were conducted to test the fit of the proposed models, depicting the relationship between the variables. Results indicate that  European American students reported the lowest levels of peer victimization and African American students reported the lowest levels of social anxiety. This study supports the notion that peer victimization both predicts and is predicted by psychosocial problems.

Polanin, J. R., Espelage, D. L., & Pigott, T. D. (2012). A meta-analysis of school-based bullying prevention programs' effects on bystander intervention behavior. School Psychology Review, 41(1), 47–65.

This meta-analysis examined bullying prevention programs' effectiveness at increasing bystander intervention in bullying situations. The evidence gathered from 12 schools indicated overall success of programs, with greater success among high school students than among K–8 students. The results suggested that researchers and school administrators should consider implementing programs that focused on bystander behavior, such as intervention, in addition to bullying prevention programs.

Swearer, S. M., Espelage, D. L., Vaillancourt, T., & Hymel, S. (2010). What can be done about school bullying? Linking research to educational practice. Educational Researcher, 39(1), 38–47.

In this review, the authors look at the research on individual, peer, and school contributions that may factor into improving efforts at addressing bullying among students. The methodological challenges to defining and assessing bullying, as well as bullying prevention and intervention programs, are explored. The authors conclude with a call for comprehensive antibullying programming that is evidence-based and that incorporates the various levels of social ecology.

Ttofi, M. M., Farrington, D. P., & Losel, F. (2011). Health consequences of school bullying. Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research, 3(2), 60–62.

The authors of this special issue of the journal were investigators of major longitudinal surveys and asked if they had unpublished information on the relationship between bullying behavior problems. These empirical studies demonstrates the strong relationship between bullying and later health outcomes.

Programs and Practices That Foster Social and Emotional Learning

Catalano, R. F., Haggerty, K. P., & Hawkins, J. D. (2009). Effects of social intervention fifteen years later. In Social Development Research Group Research Brief No. 2: July 2009. Seattle, WA

This study examined the Seattle Social Development Project (SSDP), an intervention conducted in 18 public elementary schools in Seattle serving diverse neighborhoods. The survey results indicated that participants who received the full intervention in showed the strongest results in young adulthood.  The study results indicate that improved classroom management, instruction, parenting actions and social competence during elementary school had an influence on young adult functioning.

Diamond, A. (2010). The evidence base for improving school outcomes by addressing the whole child and by addressing skills and attitudes, not just content. Early Education and Development, 21(5), 780–793.

In this commentary piece, the author asserts that the most efficient and cost-effective route to achieve the best academic outcomes is to address children's social, emotional, and physical development needs holistically, rather than to limit the focus solely to academic progress. The programs that address a holistic view are the most successful at improving any single area of child development.

Dion, E., Roux, C., Landry, D., Fuchs, D., Wenby, J. & Dupéré, V. (2010). Improving attention and preventing reading difficulties among low-income first graders: A randomized study. Prevention Science, 12, 70–79.

Students' inattention may predict difficulties in reading. In this study, the goal was to examine how student inattention impacts an intervention. The authors compared the impact of reading instruction alone and instruction with an intervention. Research findings indicate that both interventions have a positive impact on reading outcomes. However, students identified as inattentive at the beginning of the study were still struggling readers at the end of the intervention.

Merritt, E. G., Wanless, S. B., Rimm-Kaufman, S. E., Cameron, C., & Peugh, J. L. (2012). The contributions of teachers' emotional support to children's social behaviors and self-regulatory skills in first grade. School Psychology Review, 41(2), 141–159.

This study examined the relationship between emotionally supportive teacher-child interactions and children's social behaviors and self-regulatory skills.  In this study, 178 first-grade students and 36 teachers in seven rural schools participated. Results indicated that higher teacher emotional support contributed to lower child aggression and higher behavioral self-control. Results support the importance of emotionally supportive teacher behaviors and their influence on children's acquisition of social and emotional competence.

Osher, D., Coggshall, J., Columbi, G., Woodruff, D., Francios, S., & Osher, T. (2012). Building school and teacher capacity to eliminate the school-to-prison pipeline. Teacher Education and Special Education: The Journal of the Teacher Education Division of the Council for Exceptional Children, 35(4), 284–295.

In this article, the authors examine factors which if addressed can lead to success: racial disparities, poor conditions for learning, family-school disconnection, and the failure to build the social and emotional capacity in community organizations. Then the authors provide suggestions for bolstering educator and school capacity to eliminate the school to prison pipeline.

Payton, J., Weissberg, R.P., Durlak, J.A., Dymnicki, A.B., Taylor, R.D., Schellinger, K.B., et al. (2008). The positive impact of social and emotional learning for kindergarten to eighth-grade students: Findings from three scientific reviews. Chicago, IL: Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning. Retrieved from http://www.lpfch.org/sel/PackardES-REV.pdf

This report summarizes results from three large-scale reviews of research on the impact of SEL programs on elementary and middle-school students. The results from the reviews indicate that SEL interventions achieve outcomes across a range of categories that are similar to, and, in some cases, better than those obtained in other evidence-based interventions for school age youth.. Comparing results from these reviews to findings obtained in reviews of interventions by other research teams suggests that SEL programs are among the most successful youth-development programs offered to school-age youth. Furthermore, school staff (e.g., teachers, student support staff) carried out SEL programs effectively, indicating that they can be incorporated into routine educational practice.

Vreeman, R. C., & Carroll, A. E. (2007). A systematic review of school-based interventions to prevent bullying. Arch Pediatric Adolescent Medicine, 161(1), 78–88.

These authors conducted a systematic review of evaluated school-based interventions to decrease bullying, the authors found 2,090 article citations and reviewed the references of relevant articles. This resource reviews the articles by various categories and reports the general relevant findings

Washburn, I. J., Acock, A., Vuchinich, S., Synder, F., Li, K., Ji, P., et al. (2011). Effects of a socio-emotional and character development program on the trajectory of behaviors associated with social-emotional and character development: Findings from three randomized trials. Prevention Science, 12, 312–323.

By conducting three randomized control studies, this project explores the effects of school-based a social-emotional and character development program. Analyses of survey results indicate that students in both control and Positive Action (PA) schools exhibited a general decline in the number of positive behaviors associated with social-emotional and character development. Study findings indicate that the invention prevented a significant reduction in positive behaviors.

Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies (PATHS)

Osher, D., Poirier, J., Jarjoura, G., Brown, R., & Kendziora, K., (2013). Avoid simple solutions and quick fixes: Lessons learned from a comprehensive districtwide approach to improving conditions for learning. Washington, DC: American Institutes for Research. Retrieved from http://www.air.org/files/Avoid_Simple_Solutions_and_Quick_Fixes_Osher_January_2013.pdf

This report examines four districtwide efforts that Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) has undertaken to improve student social competence, behavior, and other outcomes; namely: (1) data-informed planning that uses data on conditions for learning; (2) implementing the Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies (PATHS) social and emotional learning program in Prekindergarten to Grade 5; (3) establishing student support teams to review student needs and connect students to appropriate resources; and (4) opening planning centers as an alternative to in-school suspension and to reduce escalation of negative student behavior as well as out-of-school suspension.

The quantitative and qualitative analyses draw upon three years of data between 2008–2009 and 2010–2011, utilizing surveys of student perceptions of conditions for learning along with academic achievement, attendance, discipline, and safety data, which were linked at the student level where possible. (A technical appendix is included.) Data sources included:

  • Students were surveyed regarding the conditions for learning within their schools. Using factor analysis, subscales were created from items identified from the larger survey that reflected three characteristics of the school setting: whether students in that school are often threatened, bullied, or teased; whether the students reported feeling safe in and around the school building; and whether students in the school were likely to resort to fighting and verbal aggression in response to conflicts.
  • Data were provided from the Ohio Department of Education for each school in CMSD, which included the number of disciplinary incidents for which students may have received out-of-school suspensions (such as disobedience, violence, harassment, bodily injury, truancy, and vandalism).
  • Data were downloaded from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights website for the 2009–10 school year, which provided counts by school for suspensions (in school and out of school) and expulsions. For each incident, the relative rates for black and Hispanic students were compared to white students and the rates are examined within subgroups by gender and disability status.
  • School administrators reported on the progress they were making in implementing the interventions in their schools beginning in the 2011–12 school year. Three of the interventions—PATHS, student support teams, and planning centers—were rated as "low," "medium," or "high" based on administrator reports.

Findings suggest that CMSD is starting to improve conditions for learning for its students, the majority of whom are students of color. The report concludes with six recommendations to further improve conditions for learning, provide effective student support, and reduce discipline-related disparities.

Riggs, N., Greenberg, M., Kusche, C., & Pentz, M. (2006). The mediational role of neuro-cognition in the behavioral outcomes of a social-emotional prevention program in elementary school students: Effects of the PATHS curriculum. Prevention Science, 7(1), 91–102. doi: 10.1007/s11121-005-0022-1

This study examines the underlying neurocognitive conceptual theory of PATHS, a universal school-based prevention curriculum aimed at reducing aggression and behavior problems by promoting the development of social-emotional competence in elementary school children. Participants were 318 regular education students enrolled in the second or third grade. The results demonstrated the effectiveness of PATHS in positively altering the developmental trajectories of both neurocognition and behavior among children during the elementary school years. A series of regression analyses provided empirical support for (1) the effectiveness of the PATHS Curriculum in promoting inhibitory control and verbal fluency, and (2) a partial mediating role for inhibitory control in the relation between prevention condition and behavioral outcomes. The authors discuss implications for the design and development of social-emotional prevention programs.

4Rs Program

Jones, S., Brown, J., & Aber, J. (2011). Two-year impacts of a universal school-based social-emotional and literacy intervention: An experiment in translational developmental research. Child Development, 82(2), 533–554. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2010.01560.x

Using a school-randomized, experimental design, this study examined impacts of the 4Rs Program (4Rs: Reading, Writing, Respect, and Resolution), a school-based literacy and social-emotional learning intervention for K–5 students. As part of an ongoing, longitudinal evaluation, data were collected from 1,184 children and 146 teachers in nine intervention schools and nine control schools in New York City (NYC) over three years from 2004 to 2006. Children in the intervention schools showed improvements across several domains: self-reports of hostile attribution bias, aggressive interpersonal negotiation strategies, and depression, and teacher reports of attention skills and aggressive and socially competent behavior. The intervention also improved math and reading achievement among children identified by teachers at baseline at highest behavioral risk.

After-School Programs

Durlak, J., & Weissberg, R. (2007). The impact of after-school programs that promote personal and social skills. Chicago, IL: Collaborate for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning. Retrieved from http://www.pasesetter.org/reframe/documents/ASP-Full.pdf

This meta-analysis evaluates the outcomes achieved by 73 after-school programs that sought to enhance the personal and social development of children and adolescents. Sixty percent of the evaluated reports appeared after 2000 and 15 percent appeared in 2004 or 2005.

Results indicated that youth improved in three general areas: feelings and attitudes, indicators of behavioral adjustment, and school performance. More specifically, significant increases occurred in youths' self-perceptions and bonding to school, their positive social behaviors, and in their school grades and level of academic achievement. At the same time, significant reductions occurred in problem behaviors and drug use. Substantial differences emerged between programs that used evidence-based approaches for skill training and those that did not. The former programs consistently produced significant improvements among participants in all of the above outcome areas (mean effect sizes ranged from 0.24 to 0.35), whereas the latter programs did not produce significant results in any outcome category. Specifically, effective programs had skill-development activities that were sequential, active, focused, and explicit (SAFE).

Durlak, J., Weissberg, R., & Pachan, M. (2010). A meta-analysis of after-school programs that seek to promote personal and social skills in children and adolescents. American Journal of Community Psychology, 45, 294–309. Retrieved from http://casel.org/wp-content/uploads/A-meta-analysis-of-after-school-programs-that-seek-to-promote-personal-and-social-skills-in-children-and-adolescents1.pdf

This meta-analysis evaluates the outcomes achieved by after-school programs that seek to promote youth's personal and social skills. This review included reports of 75 after-school programs, most of which were published after the year 2000.

Data indicated that after-school programs had an overall positive and statistically significant impact on participating children and adolescents. Compared to controls, participants demonstrated significant increases in their self-perceptions and bonding to school, positive social behaviors, school grades and levels of academic achievement, and significant reductions in problem behaviors. The presence of four recommended practices associated with previously effective skill training (SAFE: sequenced, active, focused, and explicit) moderated several program outcomes.

One important implication of current findings is that ASPs should contain components to foster the personal and social skills of youth because youth can benefit in multiple ways if these components are offered. The second implication is that further research is warranted on identifying program characteristics that can help us understand why some programs are more successful than others.

Miller, B. M. (2005). Pathways to success for youth: What counts in after-school? (Massachusetts After-School Research Study [MARS] Report). Retrieved from http://casel.org/wp-content/uploads/MARS-Report.pdf

The Massachusetts After-School Research Study (MARS) examined 78 after-school programs serving elementary and middle school youth in ten geographically and economically diverse school districts across Massachusetts. As such, it was the largest study of its kind to date in the state.

By examining a range of academic and non-academic outcomes, and linking these to program practices, the MARS study was designed to build understanding of complex relationships between program goals, program practices, and outcomes for youth. The study's two major goals included: (1) identifying program characteristics that are most closely related to high quality implementation; and (2) exploring the links between program quality and youth outcomes. Implications for staff quality and staff-to-child ratios, quality of family relations, quality of program activities, youth leadership, and youth engagement are discussed.

Mindfulness Education and Meditation

Barnes, V., Bauza, L., & Treiber, F. (2003). Impact of stress reduction on negative school behavior in adolescents. Health and Quality of Life Outcomes, 1(10), doi: 10.1186/1477-7525-1-10

This study was designed to determine the effect of stress reduction, via a meditation program, on school rule infractions in adolescents. Forty-five African-American adolescents (15–18 years) with high normal systolic blood pressure were randomly assigned to either Transcendental Meditation (n = 25) or health education control (n = 20) groups. The Transcendental Meditation (TM) group engaged in 15-minute sessions at home and at school each day for four months, taught by a certified TM instructor using the standard seven-step program. The control group (CTL) was presented 15-minute sessions of health education at school each day for four months, using a didactic series of lessons focusing upon the role of weight management, diet, and physical activity in the prevention of essential hypertension and their beneficial influence upon blood pressure and other risk factors.

Primary outcome measures were changes in absenteeism, school rule infractions and suspension days during the four-month pretest period prior to randomization compared with the four-month intervention period. The comparability between the two groups at pre- and postintervention on all sociodemographic and anthropometric variables (e.g., age, weight, height) was assessed via a series of two (intervention group: TM versus CTL) by two (time: pre- versus postintervention) repeated measures analyses of variance (ANOVA) with time as the repeated measure. Absentee periods, GPA, tardies, and days suspended were analysed as dependent variables using two (intervention: TM versus CTL) by two (time: pre- versus postintervention) repeated-measures ANOVAs.

Findings revealed that the TM group exhibited a decrease in absentee periods, rule infractions, and suspension days due to behavior-related problems compared to the CTL group. The successful implementation of the intervention suggests the feasibility of school-based stress reduction programs in efforts to improve both physical and behavioral risk factors in youth.

Black, D., Milam, J., & Sussman, S. (2009). Sitting-meditation interventions among youth: A review of treatment efficacy. Pediatrics, 124(3), 532–541. doi: 10.1542/peds.2008-3434

This study examines the health-related effects of sitting-meditative practices implemented among youth six to 18 years of age in school, clinic, and community settings. Researchers conducted a systematic review of electronic databases (PubMed, Ovid, Web of Science, Cochrane Reviews Database, Google Scholar) from 1982 to 2008, obtaining a sample of 16 empirical studies related to sitting-meditation interventions among youth.

Meditation modalities included mindfulness meditation, transcendental meditation, mindfulness-based stress reduction, and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy. Study samples primarily consisted of youth with preexisting conditions such as high-normal blood pressure, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and learning disabilities. Studies that examined physiologic outcomes were composed almost entirely of African-American or black participants. Median effect sizes were slightly smaller than those obtained from adult samples and ranged from 0.16 to 0.29 for physiologic outcomes and 0.27 to 0.70 for psychosocial or behavioral outcomes.

Findings suggest that sitting meditation seems to be an effective intervention in the treatment of physiologic, psychosocial, and behavioral conditions among youth. Limitations of current research are discussed, along with a recommendation for carefully constructed research that will advance our understanding of this effectiveness of this modality for youth.

Mendelson, T., Greenberg, M., Dariotis, J., Gould, L., Rhoades, B., & Leaf, P. (2010). Feasibility and preliminary outcomes of a school-based mindfulness intervention for urban youth. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology38(7), 985–994. doi: 10.1007/s10802-010-9418-x

This paper reports findings from a pilot randomized controlled trial assessing the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary outcomes of a school-based mindfulness and yoga intervention. The intervention was designed for an urban youth population to counter the psychological and neurocognitive effects of chronic stress exposure by cultivating a state of calm attention and awareness. Four urban public schools in Baltimore were randomized to a 12-week intervention or wait-list control condition. Participants included 97 fourth and fifth graders, 60.8 percent of whom were female.

Stress responses, depressive symptoms, and peer relations were assessed at baseline and post-intervention. Instruments used include: the Responses to Stress Questionnaire (RSQ) to assess children's involuntary responses to stress, the Short Mood and Feelings Questionnaire—Child Version (SMFQ-C) was used to assess depressive symptoms, the Emotion Profile Inventory (EP) was used to assess children's positive and negative emotions, and People in My Life (PIML) was used to evaluate participants' relations with peers and school. Intervention and control group participants were compared with regard to age, grade, gender, and baseline scores on all measures using ANOVA for continuous variables and Chi-square tests for categorical variables. To assess intervention effects, general linear models were estimated separately for each outcome, controlling for gender, age, grade, and baseline score on that outcome. In addition, focus groups were conducted with students in order to evaluate their experiences with the program and focus groups were conducted with teachers to explore whether they felt students had benefited from the program and whether the program had been organized effectively.

Taken together, findings suggest that a mindful based intervention (1) is feasible to implement in urban public schools and is likely to be attractive to students, teachers, and administrators; and (2) shows promise in reducing problematic physiological and cognitive patterns of response to stress among youth. Findings suggest the intervention had a positive impact on problematic responses to stress including rumination, intrusive thoughts, and emotional arousal.

Napoli, M., Krech, P., & Holley, L. (2005). Mindfulness training for elementary school students: The Attention Academy. Journal of Applied School Psychology, 21(1), 99-125. doi: 10.1300/J008v21n01_05

This formative evaluation examines whether participation in a mindfulness training program, Attention Academy Program (AAP), affected first, second, and third grade students' outcomes on measures of attention. The study was conducted in two elementary schools in a Southwestern city in 2000–01 where students were chosen at random to be placed in the experimental group who received the AAP training (n = 114) or the control group that did not (n = 114). After a 24-week program of breath work, body scan awareness, movement, and sensorimotor awareness activities (12 sessions, delivered bimonthly), students showed improvements in attention and social skills and decreased test anxiety, as compared with those in the control group. The authors offer suggestions for implementing mindfulness programs and make recommendations for future work in this field.

Schonert-Reichl, K., & Lawlor, M. (2010). The effects of a mindfulness-based education program on pre- and early adolescents. Mindfulness, 1, 137–151. doi: 10.1007/s12671-010-0011-8

This quasi-experimental study evaluates the effectiveness of the Mindfulness Education (ME) program, a preventive intervention that focuses on facilitating the development of social and emotional competence and positive emotions, with daily lessons in mindful attention training three times a day. Students in Grades 4–7 (N=246) drawn from six ME program classrooms and six comparison classrooms (wait-list controls) in western Canada completed pretest and posttest self-report measures assessing optimism, general and school self-concept, and positive and negative affect. Teachers rated students on dimensions of classroom social and emotional competence.

Students who received the ME program had improved social behavior and better self-control, were less aggressive and more attentive in class, and showed significant increases in optimism compared to children in the wait-listed control classrooms. Results revealed that pre- and early adolescents who participated in the ME program, compared to those who did not, showed significant increases in optimism from pretest to posttest. Similarly, improvements on dimensions of teacher-rated classroom social competent behaviors were found favoring ME program students. Program effects were also found for self-concept, although the ME program demonstrated more positive benefits for pre-adolescents than for early adolescents. Teacher reports of implementation fidelity and dosage for the mindfulness activities were high and teachers reported that they were easily able to integrate the mindful attention exercises within their classrooms. Theoretical issues linking mindful attention awareness to social and emotional competence and implications for the development of school-based interventions are discussed.

Semple, R. J., Reid, E. F., & Miller, L. (2005). Treating anxiety with mindfulness: An open trial of mindfulness training for anxious children. Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy, 19(4), 379–392. Retrieved from http://www.mindfuleducation.org/MindfulnessandAnxiety.pdf

This pilot study was an open clinical trial that examined the feasibility and acceptability of a mindfulness training program for anxious children. This pilot initiative was based on a cognitively oriented model, which suggests that, since impaired attention is a core symptom of anxiety, enhancing self-management of attention should effect reductions in anxiety.

A six-week trial was conducted with five anxious children, 7 to 8 years old, attending an elementary school in New York City. Students participated in 45-minute sessions one time per week. Sessions included breathing, walking, gustatory, visual, auditory, olfactory, and tactile exercises. Pre-treatment data were collected before the first session and outcome data were collected following the sixth session. Measures included two self-report instruments completed by the students and a behavioral rating scale completed by each child's teacher, which were normed and standardized on national samples of children. In addition, idiographic self-report measures and the Feely Faces Scales were developed for the study as a means by which children could report their own global-mood state before and after each session. Clinical case reports are included. Because of the small sample size, an idiographic approach to data analysis was used. Outcome evaluation was conducted using graphic displays and visual analyses of pre–post changes as reported by participants and their teachers.

Results of this study suggest that mindfulness can be taught to children and holds promise as an intervention for anxiety symptoms. By the end of the six-week program, four of the five children demonstrated enthusiasm and interest in practicing mindfulness and requested that the group continue. Teacher ratings suggested that gains were made for all five children in several areas of adaptive functioning and reported reductions of total internalizing and externalizing problems. Teachers reported a trend toward fewer problem behaviors, an improvement in academic functioning, and a decrease in symptoms of anxiety among the five children who participated in the mindfulness training. Limitations of the study and implications for future research are discussed.

Wall, R. (2005). Tai chi and mindfulness-based stress reduction in a Boston public middle school. Journal of Pediatric Health Care, 19, 230–237. Retrieved from http://www.mindfuleducation.org/robertwall.pdf

This article describes a clinical project that used a combination of Tai Chi (TC) and mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) as an educational program to teach stress reduction skills. Groups of students were selected by school staff to participate in a five-week program that met for one hour per week. Participants included a group of six sixth-grade girls and a group of five eighth-grade boys in a Boston inner-city public middle school with a population of 800 students. None of the selected students had serious behavioral issues. The practices of TC and MBSR teach strategies that heighten awareness of the mind-body. They condition students to regulate their emotional reactivity to stimuli feeding in from the environment and develop the capacity to step back from one's own emotional triggers.

Subjective statements students made in the process suggested they experienced well-being, calmness, relaxation, improved sleep, less reactivity, increased self-care, self-awareness, and a sense of interconnection or interdependence with nature. The curriculum is described in detail for nurses, teachers, and counselors who want to replicate this type of instruction for adolescents. Recommendations are made for further study in schools and other pediatric settings.

Zylowska, L., Ackerman, D., Yang, M., Futrell, J., Horton, N., Hale, T., et al. (2007). Mindfulness meditation training in adults and adolescents with ADHD. Journal of Attention Disorders, 1-10. doi: 10.1177/1087054707308502

This pilot study tests the feasibility of a mindfulness training program for adults and adolescents with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Twenty-four adults and eight adolescents with ADHD enrolled in a feasibility study of an 8-week mindfulness training program. The mindfulness training was adapted to meet the unique challenges of ADHD symptoms and included a psychoeducational component about ADHD. The 8-week program consisted of once-per-week evening sessions lasting 2.5 hours and daily at-home practice. The majority of participants completed the training and reported high satisfaction with it.

The study evaluation consisted of semi-structured clinical interviews by trained research clinicians. Self-report and observer (spouse or friend for adults, parent for adolescents) behavioral ratings were collected. The study assessments included measures of participant characteristics, feasibility assessments, and pre- and posttest measures of psychiatric symptoms and cognitive functioning. Feasibility was assessed via attendance and weekly review forms that asked about at-home meditation practice, concurrent outside treatment, and overall mental health. The pre- and posttest assessments included individual self-report scales of ADHD, depression, and anxiety symptoms and several cognitive tests administered to participants while off stimulant medications.

Adult and adolescent ADHD self-report and neurocognitive data were combined to examine pre–post training changes. Results revealed significant pre- to posttest improvements in ADHD self-reported symptoms and performance on several neurocognitive tasks. Pre–post improvements on tasks measuring attention and cognitive inhibition were noted. Improvements in anxiety and depressive symptoms were also observed. Findings suggest that mindfulness training is a feasible intervention in a subset of ADHD adults and adolescents and may improve behavioral and neurocognitive impairments. The authors indicate that a controlled clinical study is warranted.

Roots of Empathy

Cain, G., & Carnellor, Y. (2008). Roots of empathy: A research study on its impact on teachers in Western Australia. Journal of Student Wellbeing, 2(1), 52–73. Retrieved from http://www.ojs.unisa.edu.au/index.php/JSW/article/viewFile/168/227

This pilot study examines the effects of the Canadian-developed social emotional learning program Roots of Empathy (ROE), as implemented in a pilot in Western Australian schools in 2004. As part of the ROE program, students learn to observe a baby's development, celebrate milestones, interact with a baby and learn about the infant's needs and temperament. Lessons cover the topics of crying, caring and planning, emotions (including bullying), sleep, and communication. Connections are made with the learning areas of literacy, writing, art, music, mathematics, and science. This study documented how the ROE program influenced teachers and children who participated in it. It sought to understand how both the instructor training and program implementation impacted the participants, what this meant for their understanding of SEL, how the children have responded to the program and how their behaviors and learning were changed by it. It investigated the participants' perceptions of the effectiveness of ROE as an SEL learning program, and its benefits and limitations.

Purposive samplings of participants were used as it was essential that the teacher participants had been trained in ROE, or were involved in the school implementation of the program. An initial questionnaire was sent to all participants in the 15 pilot programs and follow-up interviews were conducted with eight willing participants from seven different school settings. The research design for this study used the qualitative research methodology of phenomenology to investigate the reactions and perceptions of those involved in the phenomenon by questioning and interviewing all participants. The researcher sought insights into participants' reactions to the ROE program and built a descriptive narrative of how this SEL program had affected the teachers and their classroom practices. Using themes that emerged from the analysis of the questionnaires and interview transcriptions, key findings were identified.

Results showed the ROE program to be effective in developing emotional literacy. Findings suggest that the program made a positive contribution to the professional learning of the teachers and increased their awareness of the emotional competencies of the children they teach. Pro-social behavior of the children in the ROE classes increased while bullying and aggression decreased. Recommendations for the successful implementation of the Roots of Empathy program are discussed.

Good Behavior Game

Kellam, S., Brown, C., Poduska, J., Ialongo, N., Wang, N., Toyinbo, P., et al. (2008). Effects of a universal classroom behavior management program in first and second grades on young adult behavioral, psychiatric, and social outcomes. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 95(1), S5–S28. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2008.01.004

This article reports on the cumulative impact of participation in the Good Behavior Game (GBG) in early grades on young adult (19–21 years) behavioral, psychiatric, and social outcomes. The GBG, a classroom behavior management strategy aimed at reducing early aggressive, disruptive behavior, was tested in a randomized field trial in first- and second-grade classrooms in 19 Baltimore City Public Schools beginning in the 1985–86 school year. Three or four schools in each of five urban areas were matched and randomly assigned to one of three conditions: (1) GBG; (2) an intervention aimed at academic achievement; or (3) the standard program of the school system. By young adulthood significant impact was found among males, particularly those in first grade who were more aggressive, disruptive, in reduced drug and alcohol abuse or dependence disorders, regular smoking, and antisocial personality disorder.

Wilcox, H., Kellam, S., Brown, C., Peduska, J., Ialongo, N., Wang, W., et al. (2008). The impact of two universal randomized first- and second-grade classroom interventions on young adult suicide ideation and attempt. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 95(1), S60–S73. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2008.01.005

This article reports the impact of two first- and second-grade classroom based universal preventive interventions on the risk of suicide ideation and suicide attempts by young adulthood. The Good Behavior Game (GBG) was aimed at reducing aggressive, disruptive behavior and Mastery Learning (ML) was aimed at improving academic achievement. Both interventions were tested in a randomized field trial in first- and second-grade classrooms in 19 Baltimore City Public Schools beginning in the 1985–86 school year. Three or four schools in each of five urban areas were matched and randomly assigned to one of three conditions: (1) GBG; (2) ML; or (3) the standard program of the school system.

In the first cohort, there was consistent and robust GBG-associated reduction of risk for suicide ideation by 19–21 years old compared to youths in a standard setting (control) classrooms regardless of any type of covariate adjustment. A GBG-associated reduced risk for suicide attempt was found, though in some covariate-adjusted models the effect was not statistically robust. No statistically significant impact on these outcomes was found for ML. The impact of the GBG on suicide ideation and attempts was greatly reduced in the replication trial involving the second cohort.

Responsive Classroom

Rimm-Kaufman, S. (2006). Social and academic learning study on the contribution of the Responsive Classroom approach. Retrieved from http://www.responsiveclassroom.org/sites/default/files/pdf_files/sals_booklet_rc.pdf

This paper reports on the results of the Social and Academic Learning Study (SALS), a three-year longitudinal, quasi-experimental study of the efficacy of the Responsive Classroom (RC) approach. Developed by the Northeast Foundation for Children (NEFC), the RC approach is an educational intervention using developmentally appropriate teaching practices along with techniques to integrate social and academic learning in the classroom.

This study examined the use of the RC approach in six schools in a single urban district in Connecticut during the school years from 2001–02 through 2003–04. Three schools were intervention schools that had schoolwide implementation of the RC approach and three were comparison schools that had not adopted RC. The intervention and comparison schools were comparable in their demographic composition.  Data were collected through standardized test scores, teacher questionnaires, classroom observations, student questionnaires, and teacher and principal interviews. Data was analyzed for three cohorts of students, which included between 380 and 520 children. Over 90 teachers in Grades 1–5 at intervention and comparison schools were observed and approximately 120 teachers completed questionnaires.

Findings revealed a link between the RC approach and improved student learning. Children whose teachers and schools used the approach had higher scores on math and reading tests. Further, teachers using the approach felt more effective, had a greater sense of closeness with their students, and used more high-quality instructional practices than other teachers. Taken together, findings suggest that the RC is equally beneficial for children considered "at risk" for school failure on the basis of socio-demographic indicators (such as poverty) and children considered not at risk.

Rimm-Kaufman, S., & Chiu, Y. (2007). Promoting social and academic competence in the classroom: An intervention study examining the contribution of the Responsive Classroom Approach. Psychology in the Schools, 44(4), 397–413. doi: 10.1002/pits.20231

This exploratory study examines the contribution of the Responsive Classroom (RC), an approach that prioritizes a caring classroom environment and integrates social and academic learning. Over two years, the study examined: (1) how teachers' use of RC practices contributed to children's academic and social growth; and (2) how the relation between teachers' use of RC practices and children's academic and social growth was moderated by the presence of environmental adversity in the home. Participants included 62 teachers and 157 children in Grades 1–4 at six public schools in an urban district in the Northeast. 

Findings offered preliminary evidence for modest effectiveness of RC practices during the first year of implementation. Teachers' use of RC practices held small benefits in relation to teachers' perception of children's reading achievement, teachers' perception of closeness toward their students, and some aspects of children's social skill development, even after controlling for children's previous years' performance in these areas and family risk. The strongest predictor of children's school performance was their academic or social performance during the previous year (as reported by a different teacher); however, teachers' use of the RC Approach contributed positively even after accounting for earlier levels of performance. Family risk did not moderate the relation between RC practices and children's performance.

Rimm-Kaufman, S., Fan, X., Chiu, Y., & You, W. (2007). The contribution of the responsive classroom approach on children. Journal of School Psychology, 45, 401–421. doi: 10.1016/j.jsp.2006.10.003

This paper reports the results of a quasi-experimental study on the contribution of the Responsive Classroom (RC) Approach to elementary school children's reading and math performance over one-, two-, and three-year periods. The Responsive Classroom (RC) Approach is an intervention that fosters a caring classroom environment designed to integrate social and academic learning.

Data for this study were collected as part of the Social and Academic Learning Study, a three-year longitudinal, quasi-experimental study of the efficacy of the RC approach conducted by outside evaluators. Three cohorts of children enrolled in six elementary schools (three intervention and three control schools in a single district) were the participants in the study. Children's test scores in math and reading were used as outcomes. Teacher questionnaires were gathered to assess use of RC practices among teachers in grades K–4. Observations were conducted to quantify use of RC practices in selected classrooms in Grades 1–5. Teachers' reported and observed use of RC practices were used as measures of fidelity to describe differences in use of RC practices between intervention and control schools. Analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) was used to test the differences between schools implementing the RC approach and those in a comparison condition. Separate analyses were conducted for reading and math.

After controlling for poverty and test scores from previous years, three distinct findings emerged. First, children at RC schools appeared to show greater increase in reading and math performance. Second, the association between exposure to the RC approach and achievement appeared to show statistical and practical significance for children receiving the RC intervention for two or three years but not for children receiving the intervention for a single year. Third, the contribution of the RC approach appeared to be greater in the area of math than reading performance.

Sawyer, L., & Rimm-Kaufman, S. (2007). Teacher collaboration in the context of the responsive classroom approach. Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, 13(3), 211–245. doi: 10.1080/13540600701299767

This mixed-method study examined characteristics and predictors of teacher collaboration in the context of the Responsive Classroom (RC) approach. Data for this study were collected as part of the Social and Academic Learning Study (SALS), a three-year longitudinal, quasi-experimental study of the efficacy of the Responsive Classroom (RC) approach conducted by outside evaluators. The RC approach is designed to meet the social and emotional needs of children, as well as fostering a schoolwide culture that offers emotional and social support to teachers.

Six public elementary schools in an urban district in the northeast participated in the study as part of the second year of SALS. Three schools were in their second year of schoolwide RC implementation, and three schools were comparison schools (not implementing the RC approach). Questionnaires were completed by 118 elementary schoolteachers (Grades K–4) across the six schools and interviews were conducted with administrators in each school. The questionnaire was a custom-designed measure consisting of 17 questions to describe collaboration and to understand predictors of collaboration. The primary analysis was quantitative (based on collected through teacher self-report questionnaires), with the qualitative data (based on administrator interviews) used to support the quantitative findings.

Teachers reported collaborating approximately once or twice per month, generally with fellow grade-level teachers about student-centered topics. Teachers in RC schools reported more frequent formal collaboration than comparison schoolteachers. In regards to predicting teacher collaboration, teachers who used more RC practices or resources reported collaborating more, valuing collaboration to a higher degree, and perceiving greater involvement in school decision-making, controlling for whether they taught at a RC school. Also, teachers' perceptions of the school environment related positively to teacher collaboration.

Second Step 

Battistich, V., Schaps, E., & Wilson, N. (2004). Effects of an elementary school intervention on students' "connectedness" to school and social adjustment during middle school. The Journal of Primary Prevention, 24(3), 243–262. Retrieved from http://www.devstu.org/sites/default/files/media/pdfs/about/articles/effectsJPP2004.pdf

This follow-up study examines the effects during middle school of a comprehensive elementary-school intervention program, the Child Development Project (CDP), designed to foster students' social, ethical, and intellectual development. Data were drawn from a subsample of former CDP program and comparison students while they were in middle school. Participants include 1,246 students from six CDP program and six matched comparison elementary schools. Three of the program elementary schools were in the "high implementation" group, and three were in the "low implementation" group during the elementary school study.

Overall, findings suggest that the CDP had a number of continuing positive effects on students after they had left the program environment of their elementary schools. Studywide, 40 percent of the outcome variables examined during middle school showed differences favoring program students, and there were no statistically reliable differences favoring comparison students. Among the "high implementation" group, 65 percent of the outcome variables showed differences favoring program students. Overall, program students were more engaged in and committed to school, were more prosocial and engaged in fewer problem behaviors than comparison students during middle school. Program students who experienced high implementation during elementary school also had higher academic performance, and associated with peers who were more prosocial and less antisocial than their matched comparison students during middle school. Implications of these findings for prevention programming are discussed.

Cooke, M., Ford, J., Levine, J., Bourke, C., Newell, L., & Lapidus, G. (2007). The effects of citywide implementation of 'second step' on elementary school students' pro-social and aggressive behaviors. The Journal of Primary Prevention, 28(2), 93–115. Retrieved from http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/557265

This study utilized a multi-component evaluation methodology to examine the impact of Second Step, a violence prevention program that addresses the socio-emotional skills of children and youth in grades pre-kindergarten through middle school. The program seeks to enhance students' social environment by providing them with social cognitive skills that enable them to negotiate situations of interpersonal conflict in a non-violent manner. This study examined the impact of implementing Second Step using a comprehensive, citywide approach in Meriden, Connecticut. Meriden's students are ethno-culturally diverse (37 percent Hispanic and 12 percent African American), 13 percent live in households in which English is not the primary language, and 46 percent live in low-income households.

Five elementary schools were selected to be representative of the overall elementary school student body and climate. Participants included 741 third through fifth graders in six schools. Student self-report questionnaires, independent behavioral observations, and review of discipline referrals were used to assess aggressive-antisocial and prosocial behaviors.

Findings revealed that the program was implemented with high fidelity and engaged a range of participants from the community. Students showed significant improvements in positive approach-coping, caring-cooperative behavior, suppression of aggression, and consideration of others but no changes in aggressive-antisocial behaviors. Behavioral observations and disciplinary referrals showed no significant changes. Strengths and limitations of the study are discussed.

Goodenow, C., Szalacha, L., & Westheimer, K., (2006). School support groups, other school factors, and the safety of sexual minority adolescents. Psychology in the Schools, 45(5), 573-589. doi: 10.1002/pits.20173

This study examined victimization and suicidality among sexual minority youth, investigating the relationship between these risks and school Lesbian Gay Bisexual (LGB) support groups, perceived availability of staff support, other school programs, and school characteristics. Data were drawn from the 1999 Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Survey (MYRBS; Massachusetts Department of Education, 2002), a population-based survey of adolescents from 64 public high schools, considered to be representative of public high-school students in the state as a whole, and matched with school-level data from state records and school principals. Findings revealed that sexual minority adolescents in schools with LGB support groups reported lower rates of victimization and suicide attempts than those in other schools. Victimization and perceived staff support predicted suicidality. Several additional school factors were associated with the safety of sexual minority students.

Hamre, B., & Pianta, R. (2005). Can instructional and emotional support in the first-grade classroom make a difference for children at risk of school failure? Child Development, 76(5), 949–967. Retrieved from http://niwl.fhi360.org/events/uploads/UserFiles/File/Hamre_Pianta_paper.pdf

This study examines ways in which children's risk of school failure may be moderated by support from teachers. Children identified as at-risk on the basis of demographic characteristics and the display of multiple functional (behavioral, attention, academic, social) problems reported by their kindergarten teachers were followed through first grade to examine whether classroom environment moderated those risks. Data were drawn from a sample of 910 children participating in the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Study of Early Child Care, a national prospective study. By the end of first grade, at-risk students placed in first-grade classrooms offering strong instructional and emotional support had achievement scores and student-teacher relationships commensurate with their low-risk peers; at-risk students placed in less supportive classrooms had lower achievement and more conflict with teachers. Implications for the role that classroom experience may play in pathways to positive adaptation are discussed.

McNeely, C., & Mmari, K. (2010). Evaluation of middle grades partnership. Retrieved from https://docs.google.com/file/d/
0B4UxTbktSXBTNTM2YTc1NDEtYWVjYS00M2E2LWFkNjYtMjIwNmVmNzA0ZWRh/edit?hl=en&pli=1

This evaluation study examines the effectiveness of the Middle Grades Partnership (MGP), a program that targets sixth grade students in Baltimore for an extended educational program designed to improve their algebra, reading, and writing skills, with the ultimate goal of preparing them to excel in an advanced high school program. Qualitative and quantitative methods included: focus groups and interviews with MGP students, parents, staff, and board members; student surveys; pre- and posttests of algebra; attendance data; and other academic data obtained from the Baltimore City Public School System.

Findings revealed that: (1) Between June and August of 2009, MGP students, as a whole, improved substantially on a test of algebra skills; although, there were large differences between partnerships; (2) Although the majority of MGP students face numerous risks in their daily lives, students surveyed in the summer of 2007 reported a high level of self-efficacy and confidence to perform well in school; and (3) the MGP partnerships achieved high levels of daily attendance in the summer program. However, these findings did not translate into gains in the assessments of most concern to the Baltimore City Public Schools: standardized test scores and attendance during the school year. Recommendations for program implementation are discussed.

Patton, G., Bond, L., Carlin, J., Thomas, L., Butler, H., Glover, S., et al. (2006). Promoting social inclusion in schools: A group-randomized trial of effects on student health risk behavior and well-being. American Journal of Public Health, 96(9), 1582-1587. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2004.047399

This study examines the efficacy of an intervention that was designed to promote social inclusion and commitment to education, in reducing among students health-risk behaviors and improving emotional well-being. Elements of the Gatehouse Project intervention ranged from establishing an inclusive classroom environment to creating opportunities for student participation in school life beyond the classroom, and included implementing a student curriculum that teaches interpersonal communication and emotional management. Data were drawn from a sample of eighth-grade students (13 to 14 years old) in 1997 (n = 2,545), and subsequent eighth-grade students in 1999 (n = 2586) and 2001 (n = 2463), participating in a cluster-randomized trial in 25 secondary schools in Victoria, Australia. At the four-year follow-up, the prevalence of marked health-risk behaviors (i.e., substance use, antisocial behavior, initiation of sexual intercourse) was reduced in the intervention schools. There was no evidence of a reduction in depressive symptoms.

Implementation and Assessment of SEL Programs

Durlak, J., Weissberg, R., Dymnicki, A., Taylor, R., & Schellinger, K. (2011). The impact of enhancing students' social and emotional learning: A meta-analysis of school-based universal interventions. Child Development, 82(1), 405–432. doi: 10.1111/j.14678624.2010.01564.x

This article reports on the first large-scale meta-analysis of school-based programs to promote students' social and emotional development. Findings are presented from a meta-analysis of 213 school-based, universal SEL programs involving 270,034 K–12 students. The effects of SEL programming across multiple outcomes were explored: social and emotional skills, attitudes toward self and others, positive social behavior, conduct problems, emotional distress, and academic performance.

A systematic review of literature associated with SEL programs was conducted and studies were identified for inclusion according to established criteria. The selected studies were those that involved interventions for the entire student body (universal interventions), not those that targeted specific populations (such as students already demonstrating adjustment or learning problems). Interventions that focused solely on outcomes related to students' physical health and development (e.g., programs to prevent AIDS, pregnancy, or drug use) were excluded. Most papers (75 percent) were published during the last two decades. Almost half (47 percent) of the studies employed randomized designs. More than half the programs (56 percent) were delivered to elementary school students, just less than a third (31percent) involved middle school students, and the remainder included high school students.

Compared to controls, SEL participants demonstrated significantly improved social and emotional skills, attitudes, behavior, and academic performance that reflected an 11-percentile-point gain in achievement. SEL programs yielded significant positive effects on targeted social-emotional competencies and attitudes about self, others, and school. They enhanced students' behavioral adjustment in the form of increased prosocial behaviors and reduced conduct and internalizing problems, and improved academic performance on achievement tests and grades. While gains in these areas were reduced in magnitude during follow-up assessments, effects remained statistically significant for a minimum of 6 months after the intervention (however, only a small percentage of studies collected follow-up information). Classroom teachers and other school staff effectively conducted SEL programs, suggesting that these interventions can be incorporated into routine educational practices and do not require outside personnel for their effective delivery. The use of four recommended practices for developing skills (SAFE: sequenced, active, focus, and explicit) and the presence of implementation problems moderated program outcomes.

Dwyer, K., & Osher, D. (2000). Safeguarding our children: An action guide. Washington, DC: U.S. Departments of Education and Justice, American Institutes for Research. Retrieved from http://cecp.air.org/guide/aifr5_01.pdf

Based on evidence-based practices, this action guide is intended to help schools develop and implement a comprehensive violence prevention plan. Grounded in the principles of the Early Warning Guide, the model incorporates prevention, early intervention, and intensive interventions services for students with significant emotional or behavioral needs, including those with disruptive, destructive, or violent behaviors. The model helps schools improve long-term academic, behavioral, social, and emotional outcomes for all students and their families. It identifies mechanisms for implementing the plan (the Schoolwide Team and the Student Support Team) and also describes the processes that these teams can employ to improve school safety. Chapters include:

  • Introduction
  • Building a schoolwide foundation
  • Responding to children exhibiting early warning signs
  • Providing intensive intervention to troubled students
  • Creating and implementing a comprehensive plan

The authors emphasize that effective action plans are strategic, coordinated, and comprehensive. Profiles of individual schools and examples of specific practices are provided throughout. At the conclusion, the guide provides information about technical assistance centers and evidence-based resources that schools can draw upon to develop a comprehensive plan that addresses the particular needs and builds upon the strengths of their school and their community.

Haggerty, K., Elgin, J., & Woolley, A. (2011). Social-emotional learning assessment measures for middle school youth. Social Development Research Group, University of Washington, 1–59. Retrieved from http://raikesfoundation.org/Documents/SELTools.pdf

This report provides a systematic review of existing tools and instruments used to measure the social and emotional well-being of middle school youth, with the purpose of helping schools and districts identify tools that could be useful in determining the success of SEL programs. Among a pool of 73 instruments that were initially identified and evaluated, researchers selected 10 instruments for inclusion in the report based on the following criteria: (a) sound psychometric properties, (b) suited for program evaluation, (c) readily available for schools to access, and (d) not designed to assess specific programs. A complete review of each of the 10 instruments is provided, using the social and emotional competencies identified by the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) as a framework. The authors point out that, although the instruments included in this report contain many of the characteristics necessary to be useful for middle schools interested in evaluating social emotional well-being of students, none will meet every school's needs.

Rivers, S. E., Brackett, M. A., Reyes, M. R., Elbertson, N. A., & Salovey, P. (2013). Improving the social and emotional climate of classrooms: A clustered randomized controlled trial testing the RULER approach. Prevention Science, 14(1), 77–87.

RULER is a social and emotional learning (SEL) program that comes with professional development for school leaders, teachers, and staff, as well as with classroom instruction protocols. In this study, schools which integrated the RULER program into their English language arts (ELA) curriculum were compared to schools using their standard ELA curriculum only. Analyses showed that classrooms in RULER schools were rated as having higher degrees of warmth and connectedness between teachers and students, compared to classrooms in comparison schools. These findings suggest that SEL programs such as RULER improve classroom environments.

English Language Learners

August, D., Artzi, L., Haynes, E., & Corwin, L. (2012). Developing oral proficiency in dual language learners—The Vocabulary Improvement and Oral Language Enrichment and Literacy Through Stories (VIOLETS) Program. Retrieved from http://www.ncela.gwu.edu/files/uploads/17/Accellerate4_2.pdf

This article describes the Vocabulary Improvement and Oral Language Enrichment and Literacy Through Stories (VIOLETS) approach for developing oral language proficiency, emergent literacy skills, and conceptual knowledge in prekindergarten dual language learners (DLLs). A small case study of 61 randomly selected four-year-old pre-K students, stratified according to language background, indicated that VIOLETS is a promising method for developing vocabulary in both DLLs and their low-income English-speaking classmates. This article briefly describes how the program is implemented in classrooms through shared reading and vocabulary instruction.

August, D., Carlo, M., Dressler, C., & Snow, C. (2005). The critical role of vocabulary development for English language learners. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice20(1), 50–57. Retrieved from http://www.pebc.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/August-Critical-Role-Vocab-for-ELL-2005.pdf

This article summarizes the research on methods to develop the vocabulary knowledge of English language learners (ELLs) and presents lessons learned from the research concerning effective instructional practices for ELLs. The authors highlight that ELLs who experience slow vocabulary development are less able to comprehend text at grade level than their English-only (EO) peers, and they may be at risk of being diagnosed as learning disabled, when in fact their limitation is due to limited English vocabulary and poor comprehension that results in part from this limitation. Their review of the research suggests that several strategies are especially valuable for ELLs, including: taking advantage of students' first language if the language shares cognates with English; ensuring that ELLs know the meaning of basic words; and providing sufficient review and reinforcement. The article describes several important issues that should be considered in the development of practices to build vocabulary knowledge in this group of students, such as: determining which words to teach, taking into account the large deficits in second-language vocabulary of ELLs, and working with the limited time that is typically available for direct instruction in vocabulary.

Finally, the authors point out that, although vocabulary is critically important to comprehension and ELLs lag behind their English-speaking peers in depth and breadth of vocabulary knowledge, there has been very little experimental research in the past 25 years that investigates the development of vocabulary in language minority students acquiring English as a societal language. Suggestions for additional research are discussed.

August, D., & Shanahan, T. (2006). Executive summary: Developing literacy in second-language learners. Retrieved from http://www.cal.org/projects/archive/nlpreports/executive_summary.pdf

This executive summary highlights key findings from Developing Literacy in Second-Language Learners: Report of the National Literacy Panel on Language-Minority Children and Youth, a review of research on the education of language-minority children and youth with regard to literacy attainment. The following points are discussed:

  • Instruction that provides substantial coverage in the key components of reading—identified by the National Reading Panel (NICHD, 2000) as phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and text comprehension—has clear benefits for language-minority students.
  • Instruction in the key components of reading is necessary—but not sufficient—for teaching language-minority students to read and write proficiently in English. Oral proficiency in English is critical as well—but student performance suggests that it is often overlooked in instruction.
  • Oral proficiency and literacy in the first language can be used to facilitate literacy development in English.
  • Individual differences contribute significantly to English literacy development.
  • Most assessments do a poor job of gauging individual strengths and weaknesses.
  • There is little evidence for the impact of sociocultural variables on literacy achievement or development. However, home language experiences can have a positive impact on literacy achievement.

The authors point out that the research on acquiring literacy in a second language remains limited. While the key findings summarized here are supported by research evidence, the research on some topics is scant.

Duursma, E., Romero-Contreras, S., Proctor, P., Snow, C., August, D., & Calderon, M. (2007). The role of home literacy and language environment on bilinguals' English and Spanish vocabulary development. Applied Psycholinguistics28, 171–190. Retrieved from http://www.rieslp.com.mx/documentos/Duursma_Romero_Contreras_ TheRoleOfHomeLiteracy.pdf

This study investigated the predictors of Spanish and English vocabulary for Latino English language learners in elementary school. Drawing from a larger longitudinal study in which children were followed from second through fifth grade, participants for this study were 96 fifth-grade students (61 males and 35 females) from one of four schools: one in Boston, MA, two in El Paso, TX, and one in Chicago, IL. Sixty-one of these children had received their initial literacy instruction in Spanish before transitioning into English literacy instruction and 35 children received literacy instruction only in English. All schools used the Success for All (SFA)/E´xito para Todos curriculum, a research-based reading program that teaches all component skills of literacy in a 90-min period of uninterrupted daily reading instruction.

Vocabulary outcomes were measured using the picture vocabulary subtest of the Woodcock Language Proficiency Battery—Revised for English and Spanish. Interviews with parents elicited information about demographic variables and SES, language use and exposure at home, literacy practices, and support in the home in Spanish and English.

Results suggested that becoming or staying proficient in English did not require parental use of English in the home. However, proficiency in Spanish required both instructional support at school and social support at home; it is likely that the low social status of Spanish is related to its greater dependence on home support. Recommendations for future research are discussed.

Mikow-Porto, V., Humphries, S., Egelson, P., O'Connell, D., Teague, J., & Rhimm, L. (2004). English Language Learners in the Southeast: Research, Policy, & Practice. Greensboro, NC: Regional Educational Laboratory Southeast. Retrieved from http://www.serve.org/FileLibraryDetails.aspx?id=74

This report is intended to help educators meet the needs of English language learners (ELLs) by providing a synthesis of federal and state policies, descriptions of and research on instructional programs, and a review of trends, policies, and programs in the Southeast. Chapters include:

  • Federal and State English Language Learner Policies
  • Types of English Language Learner Instructional Models
  • Research on Instructional Models for English Language Learners
  • English Language Learners: National, Regional, and State Trends
  • Examples of English Language Learner Programs in the Southeast
  • Conclusions

This report provides a synthesis of research studies that yield policy-relevant findings about bilingual or ELL education programs and describes the current legislative and policy status of ELL education in the Southeast. Examples of types of ELL education programs are provided and implications for current education and policy reform are discussed. The appendix provides a list of relevant resources for educators.

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