Program

Nov 28, 2007

OVERVIEW

The Minnesota
Competence Enhancement Project (MCEP) is a two-year school-based program which
has been designed to target children with behavior problems. The program
takes a three-pronged approach with curriculum and group training for children,
parents, and teachers. An experimental evaluation in which school
districts were randomly assigned to the program found that the program had no
observable impacts on child behavior, compare with control cases that were
offered multiple sessions on information and attention, directed at parents and
teachers.

DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM

Target population: Grade-school children
with behavior problems

The MCEP program is developed for children in early to
middle elementary school who have been identified by teachers
and parents to be highly disruptive or who have behavioral problems. The
program consists of a classroom curriculum and group sessions for children
where they are taught social skills and problem-solving tactics; a parent
component where parents receive didactic instruction in parenting skills and
group discussions; and a teacher component where teachers are trained to deal
with disruptive children through modifying behavior, problem-solving, conflict
resolution, and self-monitoring.

EVALUATION(S) OF PROGRAM

Braswell, L., August, G. J., Bloomquist, M. L., Realmuto, G.
M., Skare, S. S., & Crosby, R. D. (1997).
School-based secondary prevention for children with disruptive behavior:
Initial outcomes. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 25(3),
197-208.

Evaluated population: 309 children in
grades 1-4 drawn from 22 mostly middle-class suburban schools. Children
in the study were mostly non-Hispanic white and less than 5% of the sample was
African-American, Hispanic, or Asian.

Approach: Assignment was done by school district;
schools were paired based on demographic characteristics and then randomly
assigned to either the treatment group or a no-treatment control group.
To be eligible for the study, children were first assessed by their teachers
and then by their parents to determine their levels of disruptive
behavior. Children with the highest levels of disruptive behavior were
selected unless they had an IQ less than 80 or were in a program for
developmental, emotional, or behavior disorders. Children assigned to the
intervention condition attended 18 school sessions at their school in year one
of the study and 10 sessions in the second year. At the sessions,
children met in small groups with a psychologist for 45-60 minutes.
Parents whose children had been assigned to the intervention condition attended
9 group sessions in the first year and 6 sessions in the second year.
There were multiple options for parents who had missed a session to attend
make-up sessions, but parent attendance was modest for both treatment and
control cases. At these sessions, parents met with researchers for an
hour where they heard a didactic presentation. The second hour of each
session consisted of a group discussion led by graduate and undergraduate students.
Teachers in school districts received a series of 1 two-hour and 5 forty-five
minute training sessions which contained information about children with
disruptive behavior and methods for effective teaching and monitoring. In
the control condition, parents and teachers attended instructive sessions; but
children received no intervention.

Results: Children were assessed at baseline, after
their first year in the program, before the second year of the program, and
after the second year of the program. At baseline, both groups were equal
on almost all measures except Socio-Economic Status (SES) and the number of
caregivers in the home. At the 3 follow-up periods, the program had no
impact on teacher-rated internalizing and externalizing behavior, school
problems, or adaptive skills. The program also had no impact on parent-
and child- rated measures of child behavior, adjustment, or on a parent-rated
measure of problem solving. The researchers conclude that the program had
no observable impact on any outcomes measured throughout the study but suggest
that this may be due to the limited services offered to the control
group. Although control group members were not permitted to take part in
the full intervention, they may have received benefits similar to those in the
intervention group. Also, the researchers note that there was a general
increase over time in child-rated behavior suggesting that disruptive children
may be improving as they develop, thus masking treatment effects. Finally,
parents were not required to attend training sessions and in year 2 of the
study, up to half of parents did not attend treatment. Data from these
families were included in the analyses even though they did not receive the
full treatment.

Note: Analyses were designed to adjust for the effect of
clustering within schools.

SOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION

References

Braswell, L., August, G. J., Bloomquist, M. L., Realmuto, G.
M., Skare, S. S., & Crosby, R. D. (1997).
School-based secondary prevention for children with disruptive behavior:
Initial outcomes. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 25(3),
197-208.

KEYWORDS: School-Based,
Behavioral Problems, Elementary School, Skills Training, Life Skills Training,
Disruptive Behavior Disorders, 1st Grade, 2nd Grade, 3rd
Grade, 4th Grade, Suburban, White or Caucasian, Hispanic or Latino,
Black or African American, Parent or Family Component, Asian, Counseling/Therapy, Family Therapy,
Externalizing Problems, Cognitive Development, Social/Emotional Health and
Development, Middle Childhood (6-11).

Program information last updated
11/28/07

Subscribe to Child Trends

Short weekly updates of recent research on children and youth.