An evaluation of a pilot of Teensleep, a sleep education programme that aims to improve outcomes for pupils by improving the quality of their sleep, found no evidence that the programme led to improvements in pupils’ sleep.
The Teensleep programme
trains teachers to promote good ‘sleep hygiene’ as part of pupils’ Personal,
Social and Health Education (PSHE) lessons. Teachers deliver a series of 10
half-hour lessons highlighting the importance of sleep for effective learning,
as well as providing practical advice for better sleep, such as avoiding
caffeine in the evening.
Ten UK secondary schools took part in the pilot funded by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) and the Wellcome Trust. All Year 10 pupils received the intervention as delivered by their teachers and completed a sleep quiz and sleep survey pre- and post-intervention. Parents and pupils were informed about the pilot study and parents could opt out of schools sharing pupils’ data with the research team, but not out of pupil participation in the intervention.
Overall, the evaluation
found there was no evidence that Teensleep improved pupils’ sleep as measured
using a wrist-worn activity monitor before and after the intervention. However,
the evaluation did find some evidence of improvements to sleep-related behaviour
as reported by pupils, such as napping less during the daytime.
Source: Teensleep: Pilot report and executive summary (February
2019) Education Endowment Foundation
Mentoring programmes that pair young people with non-parental adults are a popular strategy for early intervention with at-risk youth. To examine the extent to which these types of interventions improve outcomes for young people, Elizabeth B Raposa and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis of outcome studies of one-to-one youth mentoring programmes written in English between 1975 and 2017.
Their analysis included 70 studies with a sample size of
25,286 children and young people (average age = 12 years), and considered five
broad outcome categories: school, social, health, cognitive and psychological
The findings from their meta-analysis suggest no significant
difference in effect sizes across these five types of outcomes. Overall, they
found an average effect size of +0.21 across all studies and outcomes, which is
consistent with past meta-analyses that have shown overall effect sizes ranging
from +0.18 to +0.21.
Programmes that had a larger proportion of young males who
were being mentored in the sample, a greater percentage of male mentors, or
mentors who worked within the helping profession showed larger effect sizes, as
did evaluations that relied on questionnaires and youth self-report.
Source: The effects
of youth mentoring programs: A meta-analysis of outcome studies (January 2019),
Journal of Youth and Adolescence
Megan Millenky and colleagues from MDRC have released a new reporton an evaluation of PACE Center for Girls. PACE, a Florida-based organisation, provides academic and social services to at-risk middle and high school girls. According to the report, PACE operates daily, year-round; on a typical day, girls attend academic classes and receive additional support such as individual counselling, academic advice, and referrals to other services.
The research team used a random
assignment design to evaluate the impact of PACE. From August 2013 to November
2015, a sample of 1,125 girls were enrolled in the study (673 in the programme
group, and 452 in the control group). Data sources included administrative
records, a survey, and interviews.
Key findings from the study were as follows:
- The programme group received more academic and social services — and received them more often from a professional source — than the control group.
- Over a one-year period, PACE increased school enrolment and attendance for the girls it served, compared with the control group. Girls in the programme group were also more likely to be “on track” academically than those in the control group.
- Girls in both the programme and control groups appeared goal-orientated and hopeful about their futures and reported relatively low levels of risky behaviour one year after study enrolment.
- The cost of PACE’s holistic package of services is, on average, $10,400 per pupil more than the cost of the services received by control group members through academic and social services provided in the community. The additional cost is largely driven by PACE’s extensive social services; the cost of academic services is similar to those of Florida public schools.
The authors note that further follow-up research would be
necessary to see whether PACE affects longer-term academic and delinquency
outcomes and to complete a full benefit-cost analysis.
on girls’ futures: Results from the evaluation of PACE Center for Girls
(January 2019), MDRC
A study published in the Journal of School Health examines how two behaviours – aggression and poor study skills – may be a factor in why some pupils do not finish high school.
Pamela Orpinas and colleagues randomly selected 620 sixth-grade (Year 7) pupils from northeast Georgia schools. Teachers completed a behaviour rating scale for these pupils every year from grades six to twelve (Year 7 to Year 13). Based on teacher ratings, the pupils were categorised into low, medium and high aggression trajectories from middle to high school and into five study skills groups (low, average-low, decreasing, increasing and high). Examples of behaviours considered to be aggressive were threatening to hurt, hitting, bullying and teasing others. Examples of study skills were doing extra credit work, being well organised, completing homework, working hard and reading assigned chapters. Participants in the study were classed as a dropout if they were not enrolled in school and had not obtained a high school diploma by the end of the spring term in grade 12 (Year 13).
Pupils who were identified in the high-aggression/low-study-skills group had a 50% dropout rate compared to pupils with low aggression and high study skills who had a dropout rate of less than 2%. The results highlight the importance of early interventions that combine academic enhancement and behavioural management for reducing school dropout rates.
Source: Longitudinal examination of aggression and study skills From middle to high school: Implications for dropout prevention (February 2018), Journal of School Health Volume 88, issue 3
A study published in The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry examines whether a half-hour, self-administered, single-session intervention (SSI) teaching growth mindset can reduce depression and anxiety and strengthen perceived control in high-risk teenagers.
Teenagers (aged 12–15) and their parents completed separate baseline questionnaires about the young person’s anxiety and depressive symptoms, which were then repeated over a nine-month follow-up period. Teenagers also reported on their perceived behavioural control. The teenagers were then randomised to receive either a 30-minute computer-guided intervention teaching growth mindset (the belief that personality is malleable), or a supportive therapy control.
Compared to the control group, teenagers who received the SSI had greater improvements in parent-reported depression (effect size = +0.60) and anxiety (+0.28), as well as self-reported depression (+0.32) and perceived behavioural control (+0.29) from baseline to nine-month follow-up. The effects of the intervention on self-reported anxiety were +0.36.
The report concludes that the findings suggest a promising, scalable SSI for reducing anxiety and depression in high-risk teenagers.
Source: A single-session growth mindset intervention for adolescent anxiety and depression: 9-month outcomes of a randomized trial (September 2017), The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry
In a new study published in Child Development, Andrew J Fuligni and colleagues examined whether there is an “optimal” amount of sleep for peak levels of academic achievement and mental health in teenagers.
A total of 421 pupils (mean age = 15.03 years) with Mexican-American backgrounds from the 9th and 10th grades (Years 10 and 11) of two high schools in the Los Angeles area reported the amount of sleep they had every night for two weeks. Official school records were obtained at the end of the academic year to measure academic achievement. The Youth Self-Report form of the Child Behavior Checklist was used as a measure of mental health. A year later, 80% repeated the same process and a second wave of data was collected.
Pupils who averaged 8.75 – 9 hours of sleep per school night demonstrated peak levels of mental health, whereas those who averaged 7 – 7.5 hours of sleep per night had the highest levels of academic achievement (see also an earlier study reported in Best Evidence in Brief).
While the results showed that the “optimal” amount of sleep needed is different for the two developmental outcomes, the researchers note that reducing sleep for the sake of academic performance may result in a greater decline in mental health than in the decline in academic performance from increasing sleep for the sake of mental health.
Source: Adolescent sleep duration, variability, and peak levels of achievement and mental health (January 2017), Child Development DOI: 10.1111/cdev.12729