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Experimental impacts of the 4Rs+MTP Program on children’s social-emotional and academic development

Fri, March 22, 3:00 to 4:30pm, Baltimore Convention Center, Floor: Level 3, Room 330

Integrative Statement

National consensus among scientists and practitioners indicates that children’s social-emotional development and academic learning are deeply interconnected. School-based programs that integrate social-emotional themes with academic content are likely effective ways to promote children’s positive development across both domains (Berman, Chafee & Sarmiento, 2018; Jones & Kahn, 2017). For example, English Language Arts practices that explicitly identify emotion words and discuss storybook characters’ psychological experiences promote social awareness (Kumschick et al., 2014). This paper will present experimental impacts of a universal intervention (4Rs+MTP) that integrates the teaching of social-emotional skills into a literacy-based curriculum on child social-emotional and academic outcomes.

4Rs+MTP combines two evidence-based programs. Reading, Writing, Respect and Resolution (4Rs) is a 7-unit curriculum centered around children’s books that address social-emotional themes (e.g., listening, managing anger, negotiation) (Jones et al., 2011). Units include “Read Alouds” and “Book Talk” to deepen understanding of the theme, and “Applied Learning” lessons for targeted skill practice. MyTeachingPartner (MTP) is an approach to coaching teachers that involves ongoing, video-based feedback and support centered on teacher-student interactions that promote curriculum effectiveness (Downer, Pianta, & Fan, 2008; Pianta & Allen, 2009).

Data for this paper come from a school-level RCT of the 4Rs+MTP program in 60 NYC public elementary schools. Schools were randomized across two cohorts into intervention (n = 31) and control (n = 29) conditions. Participants included a diverse sample of third- and fourth-grade teachers (n = 331) and students (n = 5,112) (see Table 1). Teachers and children completed fall/winter (Time 1) and spring (Time 2) assessments during one school year. Children reported on their own hostile attribution bias (α=.74-.78) and aggressive interpersonal strategies (α=.86-.87; Dodge et al., 2002), aggressive behavior (α=.80-.81; Orpinas & Frankowski, 2001), and internalizing symptoms (α=.82-.87; Reynolds & Kamphaus, 1998). Teachers reported on children’s social competence (α=.97; CPPRG, 1999), aggressive behaviors and conduct problems (α=.76-.95; Reynolds & Kamphaus, 1998), language and literacy skills (α=.98; ECLS-K), and student-teacher relationship closeness and conflict (α=.86-.93; Pianta, 1992). Teacher demographics were self-reported; the NYC DOE provided child demographics and state ELA and Math test scores.

Three-level models (child, teacher/classroom, school) were estimated in Mplus (7.4) predicting Time 2 child outcomes from school-level random-assignment status, controlling for Time 1 scores, child, teacher, and classroom characteristics, and cohort. Significant, positive impacts were found for three of six teacher-reported outcomes. Children in intervention schools received end-of-year ratings that were lower on aggressive behavior (B = -0.04, p < .01) and higher on social competence (B = 0.08, p < .001) and language and literacy skills (B = 0.08, p = .05) than children in control schools (see Table 2). No significant direct effects were observed for child-reported outcomes.

Findings suggest modest but significant, positive effects of 4Rs+MTP on children’s behavioral and academic skills. Program impacts on state ELA and Math test scores, and moderating effects by child behavioral risk at Time 1 will also be presented. This research integrates the developmental, prevention, and education sciences and discussion will focus on implications of results for practice and policy.