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Intervention Summary

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Caring School Community

Caring School Community (CSC), formerly called the Child Development Project, is a universal elementary school (K-6) improvement program aimed at promoting positive youth development. The program is designed to create a caring school environment characterized by kind and supportive relationships and collaboration among students, staff, and parents. The CSC model is consistent with research-based practices for increasing student achievement as well as the theoretical and empirical literature supporting the benefits of a caring classroom community in meeting students' needs for emotional and physical safety, supportive relationships, autonomy, and sense of competence. By creating a caring school community, the program seeks to promote prosocial values, increase academic motivation and achievement, and prevent drug use, violence, and delinquency. CSC has four components designed to be implemented over the course of the school year: (1) Class Meeting Lessons, which provide teachers and students with a forum to get to know one another and make decisions that affect classroom climate; (2) Cross-Age Buddies, which help build caring cross-age relationships; (3) Homeside Activities, which foster communication at home and link school learning with home experiences and perspectives; and (4) Schoolwide Community-Building Activities, which link students, parents, teachers, and other adults in the school. Schoolwide implementation of CSC is recommended because the program builds connections beyond the classroom.

Descriptive Information

Areas of Interest Mental health promotion
Substance abuse prevention
Outcomes Review Date: February 2008
1: Alcohol use
2: Marijuana use
3: Concern for others
4: Academic achievement
5: Student discipline referrals
Outcome Categories Alcohol
Drugs
Education
Social functioning
Ages 6-12 (Childhood)
Genders Male
Female
Races/Ethnicities Asian
Black or African American
Hispanic or Latino
White
Race/ethnicity unspecified
Settings School
Geographic Locations Urban
Suburban
Rural and/or frontier
Implementation History CSC was first introduced in California elementary schools in the early 1980s as the Child Development Project. Since then, the program has been adopted by approximately 1,000 schools in 34 States. CSC has also been implemented in Australia, Spain, and Switzerland.
NIH Funding/CER Studies Partially/fully funded by National Institutes of Health: No
Evaluated in comparative effectiveness research studies: No
Adaptations No population- or culture-specific adaptations of the intervention were identified by the developer.
Adverse Effects No adverse effects, concerns, or unintended consequences were identified by the developer.
IOM Prevention Categories Universal

Quality of Research
Review Date: February 2008

Documents Reviewed

The documents below were reviewed for Quality of Research. The research point of contact can provide information regarding the studies reviewed and the availability of additional materials, including those from more recent studies that may have been conducted.

Study 1

Battistich, V., Schaps, E., Watson, M., Solomon, D., & Lewis, C. (2000). Effects of the Child Development Project on students' drug use and other problem behaviors. Journal of Primary Prevention, 21(1), 75-99.

Solomon, D., Battistich, V., Watson, M., Schaps, E., & Lewis, C. (2000). A six-district study of educational change: Direct and mediated effects of the Child Development Project. Social Psychology of Education, 4, 3-51.

Study 2

Munoz, M. A., & Vanderhaar, J. E. (2006). Literacy-embedded character education in a large urban district: Effects of the Child Development Project on elementary school students and teachers. Journal of Research in Character Education, 4(1-2), 27-44.

Study 3

Chang, F., & Munoz, M. A. (2006). School personnel educating the whole child: Impact of character education on teachers' self-assessment and student development. Journal of Personnel Evaluation in Education, 19(1-2), 35-49.

Study 4

Marshall, J., & Caldwell, S. (2007). Caring School Community implementation study four-year evaluation report. Rapid City, SD: Marshall Consulting.

Supplementary Materials

Battistich, V., Solomon, D., Watson, M., & Schaps, E. (1997). Caring school communities. Educational Psychologist, 32(3), 137-151.

Elementary school student questionnaire measures. (2000). Oakland, CA: Developmental Studies Center.

Marshall, J., & Caldwell, S. (2006). Caring School Community the Characterplus way. Rapid City, SD: Marshall Consulting.

Middle school student questionnaire measures. (2000). Oakland, CA: Developmental Studies Center.

Sherblom, S. A., & Marshall, J. C. (2005, April). Caring School Community: Growing character and academic achievement. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Montreal, Canada.

Outcomes

Outcome 1: Alcohol use
Description of Measures Lifetime use of alcohol was assessed using a single question: "Do you drink alcohol (beer, wine, liquor)?" Participants indicated their use of alcohol on a 5-point scale (1 = never; 2 = once or twice; 3 = once in a while; 4 = often; 5 = used previously, but not anymore).
Key Findings Reported use of alcohol declined significantly over time among students in schools that demonstrated high program implementation, while it increased slightly among students in matched comparison schools (p < .05). This difference represents a very small effect size (Cohen's d = 0.18).
Studies Measuring Outcome Study 1
Study Designs Quasi-experimental
Quality of Research Rating 2.5 (0.0-4.0 scale)
Outcome 2: Marijuana use
Description of Measures Lifetime use of marijuana was assessed using a single question: "Do you smoke marijuana ("pot," "grass")?" Participants indicated their use of marijuana on a 5-point scale (1 = never; 2 = once or twice; 3 = once in a while; 4 = often; 5 = used previously, but not anymore).
Key Findings Reported use of marijuana declined significantly over time among students in schools that demonstrated high program implementation, while it increased slightly among students in matched comparison schools (p < .01). This difference represents a small effect size (Cohen's d = 0.22).
Studies Measuring Outcome Study 1
Study Designs Quasi-experimental
Quality of Research Rating 2.5 (0.0-4.0 scale)
Outcome 3: Concern for others
Description of Measures Concern for others was assessed using a 10-item Likert-type, self-report scale that measured students' feelings of concern for and desire to help other people. Items included, for example, "Everybody has enough problems of their own without worrying about other people's problems" and "When I hear about people who are sad or lonely, I want to do something to help."
Key Findings Over 4 academic years, students in high-implementation schools across six school districts showed a small increase from baseline in their self-reported concern for others, while students in matched comparison schools showed a decrease in their concern for others (p < .01). This difference represents a very small effect size (Cohen's d = 0.13).

Another evaluation conducted in a single school district found that students in program schools reported greater concern for others 1 year following program implementation compared with students in matched comparison schools (p < .01).
Studies Measuring Outcome Study 1, Study 2
Study Designs Quasi-experimental
Quality of Research Rating 3.1 (0.0-4.0 scale)
Outcome 4: Academic achievement
Description of Measures Academic achievement was measured using grade 3 and/or grade 4 nationally normed reading diagnostic test scores or statewide reading and math assessment scores.
Key Findings An evaluation conducted in a single school district demonstrated a program effect on reading scores, with students in program schools achieving higher scores than students in matched comparison schools 1 year following implementation (p < .05). This difference represents a very small effect size (Cohen's d = 0.06).

A second evaluation conducted in the same schools 2 years later showed that high-implementation schools outperformed comparison schools in reading gains (p < .01). Specifically, the high-implementation schools reduced the percentage of students reading at the novice level from 29% to 16%, while the comparison schools reduced the percentage of students reading at the novice level from 26% to 21%.

A third evaluation conducted in another school district found program effects for both math (p < .05) and reading (p < .05) achievement. Based on State performance categories, approximately 45% of students in the program schools were categorized as proficient or advanced in math, compared with 37% of students in control schools. This difference represents a medium effect size (eta-squared = 0.12). Effects were even more pronounced for reading achievement, with longer duration of implementation associated with greater performance: 56% of students in schools with 3 years of implementation were categorized as proficient or advanced, compared with 50% in schools with 2 years of implementation, 46% in schools with 1 year of implementation, and 38% in control schools. This difference reflects a large effect size (eta-squared = 0.22).
Studies Measuring Outcome Study 2, Study 3, Study 4
Study Designs Experimental, Quasi-experimental
Quality of Research Rating 3.0 (0.0-4.0 scale)
Outcome 5: Student discipline referrals
Description of Measures Data on student discipline referrals were provided by participating schools.
Key Findings An evaluation conducted in a single school district demonstrated a program effect on student discipline referrals. The number of referrals across program schools decreased from 214 to 142 over 1 school year (p < .05). All but one program school showed a decrease in the annual number of referrals.

A second evaluation conducted in another school district also found a program effect on referrals. Over a 2-year period, a significant 24% decline was found in student discipline referrals in 20 program schools, while referrals increased 42% in 4 control schools (p < .01).
Studies Measuring Outcome Study 3, Study 4
Study Designs Experimental, Quasi-experimental
Quality of Research Rating 2.3 (0.0-4.0 scale)

Study Populations

The following populations were identified in the studies reviewed for Quality of Research.

Study Age Gender Race/Ethnicity
Study 1 6-12 (Childhood) 51.7% Female
48.3% Male
41.4% White
25.3% Hispanic or Latino
19.9% Black or African American
8.4% Asian
5% Race/ethnicity unspecified
Study 2 6-12 (Childhood) 50.6% Male
49.4% Female
52.3% White
37.3% Black or African American
10.4% Race/ethnicity unspecified
Study 3 6-12 (Childhood) 50% Female
50% Male
65% White
35% Race/ethnicity unspecified
Study 4 6-12 (Childhood) Data not reported/available Data not reported/available

Quality of Research Ratings by Criteria (0.0-4.0 scale)

External reviewers independently evaluate the Quality of Research for an intervention's reported results using six criteria:

  1. Reliability of measures
  2. Validity of measures
  3. Intervention fidelity
  4. Missing data and attrition
  5. Potential confounding variables
  6. Appropriateness of analysis

For more information about these criteria and the meaning of the ratings, see Quality of Research.

Outcome Reliability
of Measures
Validity
of Measures
Fidelity Missing
Data/Attrition
Confounding
Variables
Data
Analysis
Overall
Rating
1: Alcohol use 2.0 2.3 3.0 2.7 2.3 2.5 2.5
2: Marijuana use 2.0 2.3 3.0 2.7 2.3 2.5 2.5
3: Concern for others 3.8 3.0 3.8 2.4 2.5 3.0 3.1
4: Academic achievement 3.3 3.0 3.1 3.0 2.8 3.0 3.0
5: Student discipline referrals 1.7 1.7 3.0 2.0 2.3 3.0 2.3

Study Strengths

The evaluation approach was theory driven and followed a conceptually sound logic model. Nationally normed, criterion-referenced achievement tests were used to measure academic achievement. Self-reported measures of drug use and concern for others relied on items similar to those used in the field or used scales with established reliability and validity. All teachers and staff associated with the program received intense training prior to program implementation, followed by continuous staff development training throughout the year. Implementation fidelity was measured using multiple measures including systematic classroom observations, program implementation checklists, and staff implementation surveys. Individual studies had adequate power to detect differences at the student level.

Study Weaknesses

The use of convenience samples and control schools that were involved in other initiatives limits the ability to make causal conclusions. Reliability and validity of the discipline referral data were questionable. Across studies, program implementation varied considerably among the treatment schools. In the majority of studies, treatment schools implemented the program in different years, introducing the possibility of interaction effects such as history and selection bias. The analytic strategy did not take into account the clustering of students by classroom.

Readiness for Dissemination
Review Date: February 2008

Materials Reviewed

The materials below were reviewed for Readiness for Dissemination. The implementation point of contact can provide information regarding implementation of the intervention and the availability of additional, updated, or new materials.

Caring School Community One-Day Workshop--Detailed Agenda

Caring School Community Program Overview [CD-ROM]

Program materials:

  • Class Meetings Kit: Lessons for Grades K-1. (2000).
  • Class Meetings Kit: Lessons for Grades 2-6. (2000).
  • Cross-Age Buddies Activity Book. (n.d.).
  • Homeside Activities: Grade K. (n.d.).
  • Homeside Activities: Grade 1. (n.d.).
  • Homeside Activities: Grade 2. (n.d.).
  • Homeside Activities: Grade 3. (n.d.).
  • Homeside Activities: Grade 4. (n.d.).
  • Homeside Activities: Grade 5. (n.d.).
  • Homeside Activities: Grade 6. (n.d.).
  • Principal's Leadership Guide. (n.d.).
  • Schoolwide Community-Building Activities. (n.d.).

Program Web site, http://www.devstu.org/csc/videos/index.shtml

Readiness for Dissemination Ratings by Criteria (0.0-4.0 scale)

External reviewers independently evaluate the intervention's Readiness for Dissemination using three criteria:

  1. Availability of implementation materials
  2. Availability of training and support resources
  3. Availability of quality assurance procedures

For more information about these criteria and the meaning of the ratings, see Readiness for Dissemination.

Implementation
Materials
Training and Support
Resources
Quality Assurance
Procedures
Overall
Rating
4.0 4.0 4.0 4.0

Dissemination Strengths

Program materials are comprehensive and well organized. Specialized training is available to implementers in various roles (teachers, principles, coaches) in the form of on-site, follow-up, and video-based training. Phone support is available to implementers. A number of assessment tools and fidelity monitoring assessments are provided to support quality assurance.

Dissemination Weaknesses

No weaknesses were noted by reviewers.

Costs

The cost information below was provided by the developer. Although this cost information may have been updated by the developer since the time of review, it may not reflect the current costs or availability of items (including newly developed or discontinued items). The implementation point of contact can provide current information and discuss implementation requirements.

Item Description Cost Required by Developer
Teacher's package (includes quality assurance materials) $225 per grade level, or $1,500 for K-6 combined Yes
Principal's package (includes quality assurance materials) $425 each Yes
Read-aloud libraries (10 trade books) $61-$72 per grade level No
1-day workshops $2,600 per day No
Follow-up visits $2,600 per day No
Replications

Selected citations are presented below. An asterisk indicates that the document was reviewed for Quality of Research.

* Chang, F., & Munoz, M. A. (2006). School personnel educating the whole child: Impact of character education on teachers' self-assessment and student development. Journal of Personnel Evaluation in Education, 19(1-2), 35-49.

* Marshall, J., & Caldwell, S. (2007). Caring School Community implementation study four-year evaluation report. Rapid City, SD: Marshall Consulting.

* Munoz, M. A., & Vanderhaar, J. E. (2006). Literacy-embedded character education in a large urban district: Effects of the Child Development Project on elementary school students and teachers. Journal of Research in Character Education, 4(1-2), 27-44.

Contact Information

To learn more about implementation, contact:
Developmental Studies Center
(800) 666-7270
pubs@devstu.org

To learn more about research, contact:
Eric Schaps, Ph.D.
(510) 533-0213 ext 240
eric_schaps@devstu.org

Consider these Questions to Ask (PDF, 54KB) as you explore the possible use of this intervention.

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