Program

Mar 14, 2007

OVERVIEW

First
Step to Success (FSS) is an early intervention program that targets
kindergarten children exhibiting antisocial behaviors. The goals of the program
are to enhance children’s social competence skills and school engagement in an
effort to ultimately prevent children from developing more serious antisocial
conditions. The multifaceted program relies on parents, teachers, and children
in order to modify and, in turn, reward behavior both at school and at home.
FSS is organized around three distinct modules which include a universal
screening of at-risk kindergarten children, a school-based intervention, and
skill-building lessons for parents. First Step to Success has been evaluated
and shown to impact young children’s behavior problems.

DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM

Target population: Kindergarten children
exhibiting antisocial behaviors and their families

First
Step to Success consists of three modules. The first module includes a
universal screening of a kindergarten population. The screening module can vary
in its complexity and design but serves one major purpose. Teachers are asked
to evaluate all kindergarten students on various measures of antisocial
behavior. Ultimately, teachers identify those children at risk for, or already
exhibiting, internalizing or externalizing behavior problems.

The
second module includes the school intervention which is an adapted version of
the CLASS (Contingencies for Learning Academic and Social Skills) program and
is intended to target and correct behavioral problems. The school intervention
is organized into three phases which span thirty days. Only one child per
classroom can receive the intervention at a time.

The
first five days of the program are known as the consultant phase. During this
time, a trained staff member, usually a school counselor or psychologist, is
charged with coordinating participant cooperation, consent and involvement with
the program. Consultants are responsible for approximately two to three cases
at a time, and meet with each child participant for 20 to 30 minutes twice
daily. Consultants introduce the child to the CLASS methods, which include an
extensive rewards/privileges system for moderating behavior and performance.
Finally, consultants must ensure a smooth transition into the second phase of
the intervention.

The
second phase of the school intervention is organized by the child’s classroom
teacher and covers days 6 through 20 of the program. During this time the
teacher assumes control of the intervention, provides the child with group
activities, and continues to reinforce the rewards/privileges system introduced
by the consultant. The teacher is also responsible for engaging and
communicating the child’s progress with his or her parents.

The
final phase of the intervention is known as maintenance and runs from day 21
through day 30. This time is dedicated to reducing dependence on the
intervention and transferring involvement to families. Rewards and privileges
for appropriate behavior are used steadily less by teachers and adopted in the
home environment instead. Eventually, parents are encouraged to substitute praise
for these privileges.

Although
FSS is organized into thirty distinct program days, a child must meet daily
performance criteria in order to proceed to the next day of intervention. If
the child fails to meet the criteria, they must repeat that day’s intervention.
Thus, most children take approximately two months to complete the school
intervention.

The
home intervention module, known as homeBase, represents the third and final
component of the program. homeBase begins at day 10 of the CLASS intervention and
runs for six weeks. During this time, consultants meet with parents at home for
approximately one hour a week. These six lessons are intended to help parents
improve children’s school adjustment, competence and performance. The lessons
involve guides and parent-child games and activities. Consultants emphasize
ways in which parents can help their child with communication and sharing,
cooperation, limits-setting, problem-solving, friendship skills and confidence.

EVALUATION(S) OF PROGRAM

Walker, H.M.,
Kavanagh, K., Stiller, B., Golly, A., Severson, H.H., & Feil, E.G. (1998).
First step to success: An early intervention approach for preventing school
antisocial behavior. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 6(2).

Evaluated population: Two cohorts of
kindergarten children identified for exhibiting severe antisocial behaviors and
their families

Approach: Kindergarten children were
subject to a three-stage screening module as described previously. Children
exhibiting severe internalizing or externalizing behaviors, as identified by
their teachers, were selected to participate in the FSS evaluation. The study
included a total of 46 children and was implemented over two years. During the
1993-1994 school year, 24 children agreed to participate (cohort 1). In the
following school year, 22 children participated in the evaluation (cohort 2).
Participants were 27 percent female, 7 percent were of racial/ethnic
minorities, and 37 percent were classified as low-income. Thirty-three children
qualified in the clinical range on measures of aggression.

Children in each cohort were randomly
assigned to either an experimental or wait-list control group. All children
received the First Step to Success intervention over a course of three months.
Data were collected for both cohorts at baseline, post-intervention and again
in 1st grade. Only cohort 1 was followed through the 2nd
grade, due to funding limitations.

Assessments
were based on teacher evaluations and classroom observations which were
completed by trained observers. Children were assessed on measures of adaptive
and maladaptive behaviors, and academic engaged time (AET), as well as
aggression and withdrawn behaviors. For purposes of some baseline
pre-intervention analyses, the experimental and wait-list control groups were
combined across cohorts.

Results: On average, both cohorts experienced substantial gains from baseline to
post-intervention on almost all outcome measures. In comparison with the
control group, children in the experimental group showed significantly more
improvement on measures of adaptive and maladaptive behaviors, and aggression
(p<.001). Experimental children also performed significantly better than
their control group counterparts on measures of academic engaged time (AET) (p<.05).
The two groups did not differ significantly, however, on withdrawn behavior.

Assessments
of the intervention’s sustainability showed that mean scores on the four
significant outcomes remained similar at follow-up. Analyses revealed no
significant differences between post-intervention and follow-up for either
cohort (p>.05), indicating that the effects of the intervention were
sustained over time.

A
limitation of the evaluation design is the use of teachers to both implement
the program and to assess the children’s behavior; however an independent
observational measure also found impacts. In addition, a wait-list control
group was used. Although this allowed all children at-risk to receive the FSS
intervention, it prevented any further comparisons between the experimental and
control groups beyond the 2nd grade. Thus, program evaluators
were unable to assess any long-term effects of First Step to Success.

SOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION

Link to program curriculum: http://www.soprislearning.com/early-childhood/first-step-to-success

References

Walker, H. M., Golly, A.,
McLane, J. Z., & Kimmich, M. (2005). The Oregon first step to success replication
initiative: Statewide results of an evaluation of the program’s impact. Journal
of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 13,
163-172.

Walker, H.M., Kavanagh,
K., Stiller, B., Golly, A., Severson, H.H., & Feil, E.G. (1998). First step
to success: An early intervention approach for preventing school antisocial
behavior. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 6(2).

KEYWORDS: Kindergarten,
Social/Emotional Health, Skills Training, School Engagement, Education,
Children, At-Risk, School-Based, Behavioral Problems,
Internalizing/Externalizing Problems, Academic Achievement, School Engagement,
Aggression, Home Visitation, White or Caucasian.

Program
information last updated 3/14/07