Monday, September 30, 2013

Assessing the effectiveness of First Step to Success

This study
examined the effects of First Step to Success (First Step), a school- and home-based program intended to improve outcomes for students with moderate to severe behavior problems who may be at risk for academic failure. Researchers randomly assigned 48 elementary schools either to receive the First Step program or to continue implementing regular instruction. Students in the intervention condition received the First Step intervention, a 3-month program that consists of a universal screening, classroom-based behavior coaching, and an at-home parent education program. Students in the comparison group received business-as-usual services. Study authors measured the effects of First Step by comparing parent, teacher, and researcher assessments of student behavior for students in the intervention and comparison groups.

Results for three measures are presented in a separate WWC report: (a) academic engaged time, defined as the proportion of time a student is academically involved, (b) problem behavior, and (c) academic competence.

The study authors reported that First Step increased student academic engaged time, increased teacher assessment of academic competence, and had no impact on parental assessment of problem behavior.

Using unimputed data provided by the authors in response to a query, the WWC calculated the effects for all outcomes and determined that the effect sizes for academic engaged time and academic competence were not statistically significant. However, the effect size for academic engaged time was determined to be substantively important (greater than 0.25 standard deviations).


Sumi, W. C., Woodbridge, M. W., Javitz, H. S., Thornton, S. P., Wagner, M., Rouspil, K., Yu, J. W., Seeley, J. R., Walker, H. M., Golly, A., Small, J. W., Feil, H. G., & Severson, H. H. (2013). Assessing the effectiveness of First Step to Success: Are short-term results the first step to long-term behavioral improvements? Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 21(1), 66–78.

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