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Two-Year Impacts of a Universal School-Based Social-Emotional and Literacy Intervention: An Experiment in Translational Developmental Research

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  • The original research and analyses presented in this article were supported by grants from IES (# R305LO30003) and W. T. Grant Foundation (#1656) to Lawrence Aber (PI) and from W. T. Grant Foundation (#7520) and NIMH (#1R01MH082085-01A2) to Joshua Brown and Stephanie Jones (PIs). The authors are very grateful to Tom Roderick and his entire staff at the Morningside Center for their talent at and commitment to developing and implementing the 4Rs (Reading, Writing, Respect, and Resolution) and to a rigorous external evaluation of the 4Rs. The authors are also enormously grateful to the many postdoctoral fellows, doctoral students, and research assistants at New York University, Fordham University, and Harvard University who have helped in every phase of the work reported here, from data collection through data analysis. Finally, we are grateful to the many thousands of students, hundreds of teachers, and dozens of schools who have made this work possible.

concerning this article should be addressed to Stephanie M. Jones, Harvard Graduate School of Education, 14 Appian Way, Cambridge, MA 02138. Electronic mail may be sent to jonesst@gse.harvard.edu.

Abstract

This study contributes to ongoing scholarship at the nexus of translational research, education reform, and the developmental and prevention sciences. It reports 2-year experimental impacts of a universal, integrated school-based intervention in social-emotional learning and literacy development on children’s social-emotional, behavioral, and academic functioning. The study employed a school-randomized, experimental design with 1,184 children in 18 elementary schools. Children in the intervention schools showed improvements across several domains: self-reports of hostile attributional bias, aggressive interpersonal negotiation strategies, and depression, and teacher reports of attention skills, and aggressive and socially competent behavior. In addition, there were effects of the intervention on children’s math and reading achievement for those identified by teachers at baseline at highest behavioral risk. These findings are interpreted in light of developmental cascades theory and lend support to the value of universal, integrated interventions in the elementary school period for promoting children’s social-emotional and academic skills.

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