Ohio University researchers have received a $3.2 million grant from the federal Institute of Education Sciences to study the effectiveness of a new professional development program for elementary school teachers. The program is designed to assist educators with implementing strategies to help children with emotional and behavioral disorders succeed in school.
About 60 percent of students with special education needs now spend most of their time in a general classroom setting, according to Julie Owens, an Ohio University professor of psychology who is the lead investigator on the study. Many teachers report needing additional training and support to adequately help students with diverse learning needs.
Most professional development programs for teachers adopt a one-size-fits-all approach and offer little follow-up support, making it difficult for teachers to implement and sustain new practices. Ohio University researchers developed the Classroom Behavior Support Program (CBS) to study the effectiveness of an individualized, year-long approach. CBS is designed to help teachers implement universal strategies that facilitate positive student-teacher relationships, inclusive classroom climate and effective classroom management. In addition, the program provides consultation and web-based resources to support teachers as they apply targeted interventions, such as the Daily Report Card and organization interventions.
In the new study, Owens and co-investigator Steven Evans, Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Ohio University, will recruit 165 teachers in elementary schools in rural, urban and suburban areas of Ohio. The teachers will participate in a series of consultation sessions over the course of one year and will receive access to web-based implementation support. The researchers will evaluate how various strategies used in consultation can enhance teachers’ knowledge, skills and self-efficacy as it relates to effectively helping students with emotional and behavioral problems. In addition, the researchers will examine the impact of CBS on student academic and behavioral outcomes.
The researchers also will determine the cost for schools to implement the program, as well as the return on investment. By project end, the investigators will better understand how innovative technology and individualized professional development strategies can be used by school personnel — psychologists, special education teachers and other behavioral support staff — to help teachers consistently implement and sustain classroom management techniques, Owens explained.
By providing school-based interventions for youth with emotional and behavioral disorders early in their educational careers, the researchers hope to prevent the need for expensive special education programming later, Owens said.
“The earlier we can address children’s challenges, the sooner we can set them on a path to success,” she said about the decision to focus on teachers in K-5 grades.
At Ohio University, Owens and Evans co-direct the Center for Research Intervention in Schools, which focuses on developing and testing the effectiveness of a variety of K-12 school-based interventions for youth with emotional and behavioral disorders.