Program

May 07, 2014

OVERVIEW

Tribes Learning Communities (TLC) is a school-based prevention program that groups children into ‘tribes’ in which they learn respect for others, teamwork, how to build relationships, and accountability.  An evaluation of TLC found that overall there were statistically significant positive impacts on parents’ reports of family involvement and intrapersonal strength.  Classroom observations found statistically significant positive impacts on engagement and sharing behavior.  Teacher surveys found no statistically significant impacts. In the short term, Tribes had positive impacts for boys on teacher reported personal and affective strengths and parent reported intrapersonal strengths,and negative impact for girls on test scores.

There were statistically significant impacts based on outcomes by baseline levels of student school functioning, with students classified as exhibiting low, medium, and high levels of academic and behavioral risk. There were statistically significant positive impacts on teacher-reported aggressive behavior, rule-breaking behavior, and social problems for girls in grades 1 and 2 with low levels of school functioning.   There was a statistically significant impact on rule-breaking behavior for boys in grades 1 and 2 with low levels of school functioning. There were statistically significant negative impacts on boys’ grade 3 and 4 aggressive behavior  and social problems.

There were statistically significant negative impacts on student test scores in the 2nd grade for students rated as medium or high on school functioning. These impacts were on medium functioning girls’ ELA scores and math scores, high functioning girls’ ELA scores and math scores, and medium functioning boys’ ELA scores.

DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM

Target population: children in grades 1 – 4

TLC is a school-based prevention program intended to improve the classroom environment, promote teacher practices that facilitate pro-social non-violent behavior, promote protective factors against violence among children, and reduce children’s disruptive and disorderly behavior. Teachers are trained in the TLC approach prior to the start of school and receive additional support during the course of the school year.  Following the initial training, teachers establish and implement TLC over the full academic year. Teachers facilitate the building of communities or tribes through three stages of group development: inclusion, influence, and community. Four agreements are taught and practiced: attentive listening, appreciations (no put downs), the right not to participate, and mutual respect. Students learn to use twelve specific collaborative skills to work effectively together in successively larger groups. Reflecting on interactions among group members (the social learning objectives) is as important as reflecting on personal and academic learning objectives.

EVALUATION OF PROGRAM

Evaluated population: Of 166 teachers initially recruited to the study, eighty-four were randomly assigned to teach TLC classrooms.  Thirteen teachers dropped out of the study, with the result that data were collected on 153 (79 TLC and 74 regular) classrooms, with a total of 2,309 children. In most of the schools there were both TLC and regular classrooms in each grade.

Approach: Because participation was voluntary, recruiting schools districts, schools, teachers, and students to the study was difficult.  In the first year of the study, only schools in the San Francisco school district participated, while in the second year schools from four other California districts joined the study after the requirement to obtain students’ parent consent forms was waived. Teachers were randomly assigned to teach TLC or regular classrooms. Teachers for the TLC classrooms were given twenty-four hours of training over three days prior to the start of the school year, and also received on-site support during the school year. Data were collected through teacher and parent surveys for behavioral strengths and for problem behaviors at three times: before the start of the school year (teachers only), at the end of the school year, and six monthsafter students left their Tribes classrooms. Individual student interviewsand direct observations of classrooms by trained researchers were conductedduring the fifth and six months of the school year and againover the next two months.Academic performance data were collected for the school year that the program was implemented, as well as for the year before and the year after.The students were also categorized as to their baseline level of school functioning (low, medium, and high).

Results: At the end of the school year there was a statistically significant positive impact across all students in TLC classrooms relative to students in regular classrooms on parents’ reports of family involvement (ES = 0.14).  Marginally statistically significant impacts were found for intrapersonal strengths (ES = 0.11) and mathematics test scores (ES = -0.19).  Classroom observations found marginally statistically significant positive impacts on engagement scores (ES =0.24) and sharing behavior scores (ES =0.36).

Across all children in grades 1 and 2, statistically significant impacts were found on teacherreported aggressive (ES =0.26) and rule breaking (ES = 0.24) behaviors, parentreported interpersonal (ES =0.19),intrapersonal (ES =0.22),and affective (ES =0.17) strengths,family involvement (ES = 0.25), and ELA (ES =-0.27) and mathematics (ES =-0.34) test scores.

Across all children in grades 3 and 4,marginally statistically significant impacts were found for teacher reported interpersonal strength (ES = 0.24) and parent reported affective strength (ES = -0.21).

For girls in all grades, a statistically significant impact was found for parent reported family involvement (ES = 0.19) and for ELA test scores (ES = -0.31).  A marginally statistically significant impact was found for mathematics test scores (ES = -0.24).  For girls in grades 1 and 2, statistically significant

positive impacts were found for parent reported family involvement (ES = 0.33) and interpersonal (ES = 0.29), intrapersonal (ES = 0.26), and affective (ES = 0.25) strengths.  There were statistically significant negative impacts on ELA (ES = -0.48) and mathematics (ES = -0.46) test scores. For girls in grades 3 and 4, there was a statistically significant negative impact on parent reported affective strength (ES=-0.35) and a marginally statistically significant impact on ELA test scores (ES = -0.16).

For boys in all grades, there was a statistically significant positive impact on teacher reported intrapersonal strength(ES = 0.26). There were marginally significant positive impacts on teacher reported affective strength (ES = 0.23) and parent reported intrapersonal strength(ES = 0.14). There was a statistically significant impact on parent reported rule-breaking behavior(ES = -0.16).

For boys in grade 1 and 2, there was a statistically significant positive impact on teacher reported aggressive (ES = 0.29) and rule-breaking behavior (ES = 0.36) , while parents reported statistically significant negative impact on rule-breaking behavior (ES = -0.19). There was a marginally statistically significant impact on parent reported school functioning (ES = 0.19).

For boys in grades 3 and 4, a statistically significant positive impact was found for teacher reported intrapersonalstrength (ES =0.43) and marginally statistically impacts on interpersonal strengths (ES = 0.31), and school functioning (ES = 0.23).  There were also statistically negative impacts on teacher reported aggressive (ES = -0.28) and rule-breaking (ES = -0.42) behavior, and on social (ES = -0.41) and attention (ES = -0.37) problems.

Interviews with students to determine impacts on their reasoning about conflict resulted in a statistically significantnegative impact for the open communication expected strategy (ES = -0.35) and a marginally statistically significant positive impact on the practical outcome expected strategy (ES = 0.37).  For girls in all grades, there was a statistically significant negative impact on the open communication suggested strategy (ES = -0.54) and a marginally statistically significant positive impact on the reliance on impartial arbitration expected strategy (ES = 1.41).  For boys in all grades, there was a marginally statistically significant impact on the open communication suggested strategy (ES = 0.58).

There were statistically significant impacts based on outcomes by baseline levels of student school functioning, with studentsclassified as exhibiting low, medium, and high levels of academic and behavioral risk. There werestatistically significant positive impacts on teacher-reported aggressive behavior(ES = 0.60), rule-breaking behavior(ES = 0.32), and social problems(ES = 0.36) for girls in grades 1 and 2 with low levels of school functioning.   There was a statistically significant impact on rule-breaking behavior (ES = 0.28) for boys in grades 1 and 2 with low levels of school functioning.There were statistically significant negative impacts on boys’ grade 3 and 4 aggressive behavior (ES = -0.29) and social problems (ES = -0.38).

There werestatistically significant negativeimpacts on student test scores in the 2nd gradeforstudents rated as medium or high on school functioning. These impacts were on medium functioning girls’ ELA scores (ES = -0.56) and math scores (ES = -0.30), high functioning girls’ ELA scores (ES = -0.89) and math scores (ES = -0.73), and medium functioning boys’ ELA scores (ES = -0.62).

The six month follow-up foundthat being in a TLC classroom the previous academic year hadastatistically significant positive impact on the teacher-reported interpersonal strength measure (ES = 0.39) for all students, but no other impacts were sustained.

SOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION

References

Hanson, T., Izu, J.A., Petrosino, A., Delong-Cotty, B., Zheng, Hong (2011). A Randomized Experimental Evaluation of the Tribes Learning Communities Prevention Program. Unpublished report submitted to the US. Department of Justice by WestEd.

Web-site: www.tribes.com Tribes Learning Community – A New Way of Learning and Being Together

Other experimental studies:

Holt, J. (2000). Tribes training and experiences lower the incidence of referral actions for teachers and students. Prepared for PDK Connection, Phi Delta Kappa, Tulsa Chapter 1021. Tulsa, OK: Tulsa Public Schools.

KEYWORDS: Children (3-11), Males and Females (Co-ed), School-based, Early Childhood Education, Academic Motivation/Self-Concept/Expectations/Engagement, Helping Behavior/Social Responsibility, Social Skills/Life Skills, Aggression

Last updated on 5/7/2014. 

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