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Intervention Summary

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The 4Rs (Reading, Writing, Respect & Resolution)

The 4Rs (Reading, Writing, Respect & Resolution) is a universal, school-based curriculum that integrates social and emotional learning into language arts for children in prekindergarten through grade 8. In broad terms, the goal of the 4Rs to change how children think, feel, and behave in situations of potential interpersonal conflict. Children's literature and interactive activities are used to develop students' skills and understanding in seven areas: building community, understanding and handling feelings, listening, assertiveness, problem-solving, dealing well with diversity, and cooperation.

The 4Rs curriculum is grade-specific. Each grade has approximately 35 lessons, organized into 7 units. Lessons are taught weekly over the school year and are 20 to 40 minutes long, depending on the grade. Each curricular unit focuses on a grade-appropriate children's book and begins with a book reading and discussion, ensuring that students understand the primary themes of the story. Over the next three to five lessons, children practice targeted skills in the context of a discussion of the book. For example, lessons for the third-grade unit "Understanding and Dealing with Feelings" focus first on identifying feeling words from the story, then on practicing "reading" feelings other students act out, and finally on identifying and practicing strategies for "cooling down" through role play. Similarly, the "Listening" unit emphasizes basic skills of effective listening, including making direct eye contact, paraphrasing, and acknowledging comprehension.

As a complement to the classroom discussions, children take home activity sheets to complete with their parents. Activity sheets include a summary of the book used in the unit, a related activity for the adult and child to do together, and suggestions for further activities related to the book.

Teachers attend a 25-hour introductory training prior to implementation and receive ongoing classroom coaching. The introductory training is designed to introduce the teachers to the curriculum, give them an opportunity to practice social-emotional skills through role-playing and experiential learning, and inspire them to employ the ideas and skills embodied in the 4Rs curriculum in their own lives, both professionally and personally. Ongoing classroom coaching encompasses class lesson modeling, workshops, and group meetings led by developer staff; joint planning and teaching of lessons by the teacher and developer staff; and lesson observations and feedback by developer staff.

In the study reviewed, the 4Rs was implemented schoolwide for 2 years; outcomes were assessed for students who had 2 years of program exposure while in third and fourth grade.

Descriptive Information

Areas of Interest Mental health promotion
Outcomes Review Date: November 2013
1: Hostile attribution bias
2: Symptoms of depression
3: Aggression
4: Social competence
5: Reading achievement
Outcome Categories Education
Mental health
Social functioning
Violence
Ages 6-12 (Childhood)
Genders Male
Female
Races/Ethnicities Black or African American
Hispanic or Latino
White
Race/ethnicity unspecified
Settings School
Geographic Locations Urban
Implementation History The 4Rs, first developed in New York City public schools, has been implemented in about 100 schools since 1999. More than 1,000 teachers have received 4Rs training and coaching and have taught weekly lessons in the curriculum to more than 25,000 students in New York, Georgia, and Ohio.
NIH Funding/CER Studies Partially/fully funded by National Institutes of Health: No
Evaluated in comparative effectiveness research studies: No
Adaptations The 4Rs Family Connections activity sheets (interactive homework assignments) are available in English and Spanish.
Adverse Effects No adverse effects, concerns, or unintended consequences were identified by the developer.
IOM Prevention Categories Universal

Quality of Research
Review Date: November 2013

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

Jones, S. M., Brown J. L., & Aber, J. L. (2011). Two-year impacts of a universal school-based social-emotional and literacy intervention: An experiment in translational developmental research. Child Development, 82(2), 533-554.  Pub Med icon

Jones, S. M., Brown J. L., Hoglund, W. L. G., & Aber, J. L. (2010). A school-randomized clinical trial of an integrated social-emotional learning and literacy intervention: Impacts after 1 school year. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 78(6), 829-842.  Pub Med icon

Supplementary Materials

Description of Significant Outcomes in Randomized Controlled Trial of 4Rs Program

Outcomes

Outcome 1: Hostile attribution bias
Description of Measures Hostile attribution bias, the tendency to attribute hostile motives to another person when that person's motives are not clear, were measured using an adaptation of the Home Interview Questionnaire. Six vignettes depicting ambiguous but provocative social scenarios are read aloud while pictorial representations of the scenarios are presented (e.g., a student's milk carton is spilled on another child's back). Following presentation of each vignette, children are asked to select one of four possible causal attributions regarding the intent of the provocateur. Two attributions refer to the provocateur's intent as benign or accidental (rated 0; e.g., the milk was spilled accidentally) and two attributions refer to it as hostile or purposeful (rated 1; e.g., the student was being mean). A composite score was computed by averaging across all items.
Key Findings Eighteen public elementary schools in New York City were demographically matched and then randomized to intervention or control conditions, with nine schools in each condition. In the intervention schools, the 4Rs was implemented schoolwide. Control schools did not receive the program. One cohort of students was followed from the start of grade 3 (year 1) through the end of grade 4 (year 2). Baseline data were gathered in the fall of year 1. Follow-up data were collected in the spring of year 1 and the fall and spring of year 2. Although some students entered the study after baseline, students in the intervention schools generally received 2 years of program exposure.

Findings included the following:

  • Students in intervention schools had significantly lower levels of hostile attribution bias in the spring of year 1 compared with students in control schools (p < .05), after controlling for baseline scores. This finding had a very small effect size (Cohen's d = 0.20).
  • Over the 2-year study, hostile attribution bias increased at a slower rate among students in intervention schools compared with those in control schools, but the difference in rate was not statistically significant.
Studies Measuring Outcome Study 1
Study Designs Experimental
Quality of Research Rating 3.1 (0.0-4.0 scale)
Outcome 2: Symptoms of depression
Description of Measures Symptoms of depression were assessed using self-reports on the Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children Predictive Scales. This questionnaire contains 6 items that ask children whether they have experienced particular depressive symptoms (e.g., lethargy, anhedonia, suicidal thoughts) in the past year. For assessments conducted in the fall of the school year, children were asked about symptoms occurring "in the past year" (i.e., in the year before entering the current grade). For assessments conducted in the spring of the school year, children were asked about symptoms occurring "since the new year" (i.e., since the start of the current school year). Items are rated on a 2-point scale (0 = "no," 1 = "yes"). A composite score was computed by averaging across all items.
Key Findings Eighteen public elementary schools in New York City were demographically matched and then randomized to intervention or control conditions, with nine schools in each condition. In the intervention schools, the 4Rs was implemented schoolwide. Control schools did not receive the program. One cohort of students was followed from the start of grade 3 (year 1) through the end of grade 4 (year 2). Baseline data were gathered in the fall of year 1. Follow-up data were collected in the spring of year 1 and the fall and spring of year 2. Although some students entered the study after baseline, students in the intervention schools generally received 2 years of program exposure.

Findings included the following:

  • Students in intervention schools reported significantly fewer symptoms of depression in the spring of year 2 compared with students in control schools (p < .05), after controlling for baseline scores. This finding had a small effect size (Cohen's d = 0.24).
  • Over the 2-year study, depression symptoms decreased at a faster rate among students in intervention schools compared with those in control schools (p < .05). This result had a small effect size (Cohen's d = 0.22).
Studies Measuring Outcome Study 1
Study Designs Experimental
Quality of Research Rating 3.0 (0.0-4.0 scale)
Outcome 3: Aggression
Description of Measures Aggression was measured using teacher reports on the Behavioral Assessment System for Children. This questionnaire asks teachers to report the frequency of 13 typical aggressive behaviors (e.g., physically aggressive, argumentative, threatening, or critical of others) observed within the past 30 days. Items are rated on a 4-point scale (1 = "never," 2 = "sometimes," 3 = "often," 4 = "almost always"). A composite score was computed by averaging across all items.
Key Findings Eighteen public elementary schools in New York City were demographically matched and then randomized to intervention or control conditions, with nine schools in each condition. In the intervention schools, the 4Rs was implemented schoolwide. Control schools did not receive the program. One cohort of students was followed from the start of grade 3 (year 1) through the end of grade 4 (year 2). Baseline data were gathered in the fall of year 1. Follow-up data were collected in the spring of year 1 and the fall and spring of year 2. Although some students entered the study after baseline, students in the intervention schools generally received 2 years of program exposure.

Findings included the following:

  • Aggressive behaviors increased among students in both intervention and control schools between baseline and spring of year 1. However, there was no statistically significant difference between groups in aggressive behaviors in the spring of year 1.
  • Over the 2-year study, aggressive behaviors increased at a slower rate among students in intervention schools compared with those in control schools (p < .05). This finding had a medium effect size (Cohen's d = 0.50).
Studies Measuring Outcome Study 1
Study Designs Experimental
Quality of Research Rating 3.3 (0.0-4.0 scale)
Outcome 4: Social competence
Description of Measures Social competence was measured with teacher reports on the 18-item Social Competence Scale. The measure includes two subscales: Prosocial Behaviors (e.g., is good at understanding other people's feelings) and Emotion Regulation (e.g., can calm down when excited or all wound up). A composite score was computed by averaging across all items.
Key Findings Eighteen public elementary schools in New York City were demographically matched and then randomized to intervention or control conditions, with nine schools in each condition. In the intervention schools, the 4Rs was implemented schoolwide. Control schools did not receive the program. One cohort of students was followed from the start of grade 3 (year 1) through the end of grade 4 (year 2). Baseline data were gathered in the fall of year 1, and follow-up data were collected in the spring of year 1 and the fall and spring of year 2. Although some students entered the study after baseline, students in the intervention schools generally received 2 years of program exposure.

Findings included the following:

  • Social competence did not differ significantly between groups in the spring of year 1, after controlling for baseline scores.
  • However, over the 2-year study, students in intervention schools showed a significant increase in social competence, while students in control schools showed a decrease (p < .05). This finding had a very small effect size (Cohen's d = 0.14).
Studies Measuring Outcome Study 1
Study Designs Experimental
Quality of Research Rating 3.3 (0.0-4.0 scale)
Outcome 5: Reading achievement
Description of Measures Reading achievement was measured using students' scaled reading scores on New York State standardized assessments at the end of third and fourth grade. These tests had not been administered the year before the study, when the study participants were in second grade.
Key Findings Eighteen public elementary schools in New York City were demographically matched and then randomized to intervention or control conditions, with nine schools in each condition. In the intervention schools, the 4Rs was implemented schoolwide. Control schools did not receive the program. One cohort of students was followed from the start of grade 3 (year 1) through the end of grade 4 (year 2). Baseline data were gathered in the fall of year 1. Follow-up data were collected in the spring of year 1 and the fall and spring of year 2. Although some students entered the study after baseline, students in the intervention schools generally received 2 years of program exposure.

Findings included the following:

  • Reading achievement did not differ significantly between groups in the spring of year 1.
  • However, positive intervention effects were found for students with the highest level of behavioral risk at baseline (determined by teacher reports of aggression and conduct problems). For this subset of higher-risk students, students in intervention schools showed greater improvements in reading achievement by the end of year 2 compared with students in control schools (p < .05). This finding had a medium effect size (Cohen's d = 0.60).
Studies Measuring Outcome Study 1
Study Designs Experimental
Quality of Research Rating 3.3 (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% Female
49% Male
46% Hispanic or Latino
41% Black or African American
8% Race/ethnicity unspecified
4% White

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: Hostile attribution bias 3.5 3.5 2.0 3.5 2.3 3.8 3.1
2: Symptoms of depression 3.0 3.5 2.0 3.5 2.3 3.8 3.0
3: Aggression 4.0 4.0 2.0 3.5 2.3 3.8 3.3
4: Social competence 4.0 4.0 2.0 3.5 2.3 3.8 3.3
5: Reading achievement 4.0 4.0 2.0 3.5 2.3 3.8 3.3

Study Strengths

The measures used in the study have acceptable and well-documented psychometric properties. Attrition was minimal, and imputation was used to address missing data. Use of a randomized controlled design minimized difference between groups at baseline. The study was well designed and used sophisticated analytic techniques. Sample size and power were adequate.

Study Weaknesses

Implementation of the intervention varied across sites, and the quality of implementation was below the benchmarks set by the study authors. For example, teachers on average were implementing 4Rs lessons for 40 minutes (rather than 60 minutes) per week and completing three quarters of a lesson (instead of the full lesson).

Readiness for Dissemination
Review Date: November 2013

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.

Gonzalez, E., & Roderick, T. (2011). The 4Rs program class meetings for problem solving: A guide for teachers, grades pre-K to 5 (with DVD). New York, NY: Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility.

Gonzalez, E., Roderick, T, & Van Woerkom, M. (2009). Beginning with the children: A guide to creating a peace helpers program, grades K-2. New York, NY: Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility.

Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility. (n.d.). The 4Rs classroom teacher logs for detailed weekly reporting: Grades preK-5. New York, NY: Author.

Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility. (n.d.). The 4Rs learning kit K. New York, NY: Author.

Phillips, M., & Roderick, T. (2008). The 4Rs teaching guide for middle school. New York, NY: Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility.

Phillips, M., & Roderick, T. (2012). The 4Rs teaching guide 1. New York, NY: Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility.

Phillips, M., & Roderick, T. (2012). The 4Rs teaching guide 2. New York, NY: Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility.

Phillips, M., & Roderick, T. (2012). The 4Rs teaching guide 3. New York, NY: Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility.

Phillips, M., & Roderick, T. (2012). The 4Rs teaching guide 4. New York, NY: Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility.

Phillips, M., & Roderick, T. (2012). The 4Rs teaching guide 5. New York, NY: Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility.

Phillips, M., & Roderick, T. (n.d.). The 4Rs family connections and activity sheets 1. New York, NY: Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility.

Phillips, M., & Roderick, T. (n.d.). The 4Rs family connections and activity sheets 2. New York, NY: Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility.

Phillips, M., & Roderick, T. (n.d.). The 4Rs family connections and activity sheets 3. New York, NY: Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility.

Phillips, M., & Roderick, T. (n.d.). The 4Rs family connections and activity sheets 4. New York, NY: Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility.

Phillips, M., & Roderick, T. (n.d.). The 4Rs family connections and activity sheets 5. New York, NY: Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility.

Phillips, M., & Roderick, T. (n.d.). The 4Rs family connections preK. New York, NY: Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility.

Phillips, M., Roderick, T., & Turner, J. (2008). The 4Rs teaching guide pre K. New York, NY: Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility.

Roderick, T. (2010). Implementing the 4Rs program: Introductory course for teachers facilitator's manual with teacher coaching guide (with DVDs). New York, NY: Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility.

Roderick, T. (2010). Implementing the 4Rs program: Planning, monitoring & assessment guidelines and tools. New York, NY: Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility.

Roderick, T., & Van Woerkom, M. (2012). The 4Rs family connections five workshops for parents: Facilitators' guide. New York, NY: Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility.

Program Web site, http://www.morningsidecenter.org/4rs-program

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 3.7 3.9

Dissemination Strengths

The implementation guidelines are comprehensive and clearly articulate all aspects of a successful implementation process. The teaching guides are well organized, grade specific, and developmentally appropriate. Materials for teachers, students, and parents are coordinated and easy to access. Training and coaching are required. Training sessions are highly interactive, exposing teachers to the same techniques and materials to be used with their students. During training, teachers are also given opportunities to develop their own social and emotional skills while learning how to teach these skills to their students. Quality assurance tools are accompanied by clear and comprehensive guidance for administration, data collection, and analysis of the data collected, while limiting the burden on teachers.

Dissemination Weaknesses

No outcome monitoring tools or protocols are provided for measuring changes in social skill behaviors or academics.

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
Learning Kit (includes one teaching guide and all other program materials) $275 per kit Yes, one kit required per grade level
Additional teaching guides $25 each Yes, one teaching guide required per teacher
5-day Introductory Course $2,000 per day per trainer; one trainer required for every 50 participants Yes
On-site classroom coaching: one-on-one model $2,000 per day for 5 teachers Yes, one coaching option is required
On-site classroom coaching: group (lab site) model $2,000 per day for 18 teachers Yes, one coaching option is required
Teacher logs Free Yes
Surveys for teachers, students, and principals Free Yes
Replications

No replications were identified by the developer.

Contact Information

To learn more about implementation or research, contact:
Tom Roderick
(212) 870-3318 ext 32
TRoderick@morningsidecenter.org

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