Which schools abandon interventions?

A new study published in Prevention Science looks at which schools persevere with interventions and which abandon them.

Led by Kent McIntosh from the University of Oregon, the researchers looked at 5,331 schools during five years of implementing schoolwide positive behavioural interventions and supports (SWPBIS) – a school-wide behaviour management program. The extent to which a school was implementing the program was measured using three surveys completed by the schools each year. Analysing this data, the researchers identified four different kinds of schools:

  • Sustainers (29% of schools) had a high likelihood of meeting the fidelity criterion across all years of implementation.
  • Slow Starters (13%) had an inconsistent pattern of reaching the fidelity criterion across the first three years of implementation that then increased to nearly the level of the Sustainers in the fourth and fifth years.
  • Late Abandoners (24%) were more likely than not to reach the fidelity criterion in the first three years of implementation, but then were very unlikely to reach the criterion in the fourth and fifth years.
  • Rapid Abandoners (34%) had a high probability of reaching the fidelity criterion in the first year, but dropped off rapidly and remained low in subsequent years.

Schools were more likely to abandon if they were middle or high schools, smaller, and had fewer schools locally that were already using SWPBIS. The researchers suggest that their results highlight the importance of supporting those schools implementing programs, particularly in Year 1 (when Rapid Abandoners are already struggling) and Year 3 (when Late Abandoners are more likely to quit).

Source: Identifying and Predicting Distinct Patterns of Implementation in a School-Wide Behavior Support Framework (2016), Prevention Science

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