CrimeSolutions.gov

Additional Resources:

Program Profile: Behavioral, Emotional, and Social Training: Competent Learners Achieving School Success (BEST in CLASS)

Evidence Rating: Effective - One study Effective - One study

Date: This profile was posted on November 21, 2018

Program Summary

A classroom-based intervention, delivered by teachers, designed to prevent emotional and behavioral disorders in high-risk children. The program is rated Effective. Intervention group children showed statistically significant improvement in behaviors, social and behavioral competence, and student-teacher relationships, compared with control group children. Intervention group teachers showed statistically significant improvements in instructional practices, compared with control group teachers.

This program’s rating is based on evidence that includes at least one high-quality randomized controlled trial.

Program Description

Programs Goals/Target Population
Behavioral, Emotional, and Social Training: Competent Learners Achieving School Success (BEST in CLASS) is a classroom-based intervention, delivered by teachers, which is designed to prevent emotional and behavioral disorders (EBDs). The goal of the program is to reduce chronic problem behaviors and improve interactions and relationships between teachers and focal children (i.e., selected participants between ages 3 to 5) who attend early childhood programs and who are at risk for EBDs due to their display of elevated rates of problem behaviors in the classroom.

Program Components
The BEST in CLASS intervention is implemented through three interactive components: 1) BEST in CLASS Workshop, 2) BEST in CLASS Teacher Manual, and 3) BEST in CLASS Practice-based Coaching.

  • Workshop: Teachers are trained via a 6-hour workshop that uses both didactic and interactive learning activities. These activities focus on providing rationale for the individual learning modules, video examples of strategy implementation, and opportunities to practice.
  • Manual: Teachers are provided a training manual that summarizes the primary content of the training and serves as a framework for the skills acquisition and mastery that is supported by 14 weeks of practice-based coaching.
  • Practice-based Coaching: A coach spends approximately 2 hours per week in each teacher’s classroom. The four main components of the BEST in CLASS coaching model include 1) a collaborative weekly coaching meeting, which includes developing a plan for implementing the targeted BEST in CLASS strategy with the focal children; 2) technical assistance in the form of modeling and prompting on the targeted instructional practices each week, in the context of regularly occurring teacher-directed classroom activities; 3) a focused observation that involves the coach videotaping and observing the teacher’s implementation of the plan during a teacher-directed instructional activity; and 4) a reflective feedback session, which includes both the coach and the teacher sharing their overall impressions of the success of implemented practices with the focal child.
BEST in CLASS trains teachers to use instructional practices designed to prevent and ameliorate young children’s chronic problem behaviors, enhance positive teacher-child interactions, and promote social and behavioral competence. These instructional practices include the following:

  • Rules: This refers to a verbal statement that contains the word “rule” and is directed at the focal child or child group.
  • Behavior-Specific Praise: This refers to a verbal statement directed at the focal child or child group that indicates approval of a behavior or correct response over and above an evaluation of adequacy and specifies the behavior being praised.
  • Precorrection: This refers to a verbal statement that reminds the focal child or child group of expectations prior to entering a situation (activity/training) to prevent predictable problem behaviors or errors.
  • Opportunities to Respond: This refers to an instructional question, request, command, or gesture that seeks a response from the focal child or child group.
  • Teacher-Corrective Feedback: This refers to a verbal statement to the focal child or child group, or member of the group that acknowledges an incorrect response, display of incorrect information, or inappropriate behavior, and provides information for a correct alternative behavior or response.
  • Teacher-Instructive Feedback: This refers to a verbal statement to the focal child or child group, or member of the group that acknowledges a correct or appropriate behavior and provides additional instructional information.
In addition, teachers are trained on linking these strategies to efficiently and effectively apply them to ongoing instruction with focal children in their classrooms.

Program Theory
BEST in CLASS is based on three theoretical frameworks: behavioral, transactional, and ecological theories. Instructional practices are based on behavioral principles that promote effective teacher-child interactions, while recognizing the transactional nature of social interchanges and how affecting behavior and transactions can influence various subsystems, including teacher-child relationships and the classroom environment (Skinner 1953; Sameroff 1995; Bronfenbrenner 1979; Sutherland et al. 2018b).

Evaluation Outcomes

top border
Study 1
Child Engagement Behavior
Conroy and colleagues (2015) found that children in the Behavioral, Emotional, and Social Training: Competent Learners Achieving School Success (BEST in CLASS) intervention group showed statistically significant improvements in engagement behaviors, compared with children in the business as usual (BAU) control group.

Disruptive, Aggressive, Defiant Behaviors
There were fewer observed disruptive, aggressive, and defiant behaviors with children in the BEST in CLASS intervention group, compared with children in the BAU control group. This difference was statistically significant.

Positive Teacher-Child Interactions
There were more observed positive interactions between teachers and children in the BEST in CLASS intervention group, compared with teachers and children in the BAU control group. This difference was statistically significant.

Negative Teacher-Child Interactions
There were fewer observed negative interactions between teachers and children in the BEST in CLASS intervention group, compared with the teachers and children in the BAU control group. This difference was statistically significant.

Behavior Specific Praise
Teachers in the BEST in CLASS intervention group showed greater improvements in giving behavior-specific praise in instructional activities, compared with teachers in the BAU control group. This difference was statistically significant.

Opportunities to Respond
Teachers in the BEST in CLASS intervention group showed greater improvements in creating opportunities for children to respond in instructional activities, compared with teachers in the BAU control group. This difference was statistically significant.

Precorrection
Teachers in the BEST in CLASS intervention group showed greater improvements in providing precorrection to children during the school day, compared with teachers in the BAU control group. This difference was statistically significant.

Instructive Feedback
Teachers in the BEST in CLASS intervention group showed greater improvements in providing instructive feedback to children during instructional activities, compared with teachers in the BAU control group. This difference was statistically significant.

Corrective Feedback
Teachers in the BEST in CLASS intervention group showed greater improvements in providing corrective feedback to children during instructional activities, compared with teachers in the BAU control group. This difference was statistically significant.

Study 2
Externalizing Problem Behaviors
Sutherland and colleagues (2018a) found that children in the BEST in CLASS intervention group showed greater reductions in externalizing problems, compared with children in the BAU control group. This difference was statistically significant.

Problem Behaviors
Children in the BEST in CLASS intervention group showed greater reductions in externalizing problem behaviors, compared with children in the BAU control group. This difference was statistically significant.

Study 3
Externalizing Problem Behaviors
Sutherland and colleagues (2018b) found that teachers reported that children in the BEST in CLASS intervention group showed lower levels of externalizing problem behaviors, compared with children in the BAU control group. This difference was statistically significant.

Internalizing Problem Behaviors
Teachers reported that children in the BEST in CLASS intervention group showed lower levels of internalizing problem behaviors, compared with children in the BAU control group. This difference was statistically significant.

Problem Behaviors
Teachers reported that children in the BEST in CLASS intervention group showed lower levels of problem behaviors, compared with children in the BAU control group. This difference was statistically significant.

Social Skills
Teachers reported that children in the BEST in CLASS intervention group showed statistically significant improvements in social skills, compared with children in the BAU control group.

Student-Teacher Relationship: Closeness
Teachers reported higher levels of closeness with children in the BEST in CLASS intervention group, compared with children in the BAU control group. This difference was statistically significant.

Student-Teacher Relationship: Conflict
Teachers reported lower levels of conflict with children in the BEST in CLASS intervention group, compared with children in the BAU control group. This difference was statistically significant.

Teacher Interactions with Children
There were more observed teacher interactions with children in the BEST in CLASS intervention group, compared with teacher interactions with children in the BAU control group. This difference was statistically significant.

Positive Teacher-Child Interactions
There were more observed positive interactions between teachers and children in the BEST in CLASS intervention group, compared with teachers and children in the BAU control group. This difference was statistically significant.

Negative Teacher-Child Interactions
There were fewer observed negative interactions between teachers and children in the BEST in CLASS intervention group, compared with teachers and children in the BAU control group. This difference was statistically significant.

Disruptive, Aggressive, Defiant Behaviors
There were fewer observed disruptive, aggressive, and defiant behaviors with children in the BEST in CLASS intervention group, compared with children in the BAU control group. This difference was statistically significant.
bottom border

Evaluation Methodology

top border
Study 1
Conroy and colleagues (2015) assessed the effects of the Behavioral, Emotional, and Social Training: Competent Learners Achieving School Success (BEST in CLASS) intervention. Participants were drawn from a larger randomized efficacy trial, conducted over 4 years (2011-2015), examining the impact of the BEST in CLASS intervention (Conroy and Sutherland 2011) in early childhood classrooms in two southeastern states and four school districts. The majority of the classrooms were located within federal- or state-funded early childhood programs in rural, urban, and suburban communities. Across all classroom sites curricula included the Creative Curriculum for Preschool, the High Scope Early Childhood Curriculum, and Second Step Social-Emotional Skills for Early Learning. There were no statistically significant differences in location, funding, and curricula across potential research sites.

Study participants included both early childhood teachers and young children. The teachers were selected to participate through randomization at each research site. Classrooms were randomly assigned to the intervention (BEST in CLASS) group or to the business-as-usual (BAU) group. The BAU teachers continued with their usual instructional activities such as large and small group instructional time, center-time activities, outdoor play, lunch, and snack time.

Child participants, nominated by teachers, were selected through a systematic screening process, which included the administration of the Early Screening Project (ESP) to determine Emotional Behavioral Disorders (EBDs) and the Battelle Developmental Inventory, Second Edition Screener (BDI-II) to rule out a cognitive developmental disability (Feil, Sevenson, and Walker 1989; Newborg 2005). To be eligible to participate, children 1) had to be enrolled in a federal- or state-funded early childhood classroom with a participating teacher, 2) had to be at elevated risk for EBD as indicated by the ESP, 3) could not demonstrate any cognitive development delays as indicated by the BDI-II, and 4) displayed problem behaviors in the early childhood setting.

An initial sample of 53 female early childhood teachers participated in the study. Of these, 26 participated in the BEST in CLASS intervention group and 27 in the BAU control group. Of the teachers in the intervention group, 7 had an associate’s degree, 12 a bachelor’s degree, and 7 a master’s degree, and an average of 15 years of teaching experience. In terms of race/ethnicity, 13 were white, 11 black, 1 Hispanic, and 1 other. Of the teachers in the BAU group, 11 had an associate’s degree, 10 a bachelor’s degree, and 6 a master’s degree, and an average of 13 years of teaching experience. In terms of race, 15 were white, and 12 were black. There were no statistically significant differences in the level of education and teaching experience between the intervention and BAU groups at baseline.

Of an initial sample of 130 preschool-aged children, 66 were eligible for the BEST in CLASS intervention group, and 64 participated in the BAU group. There were 45 boys and 21 girls in the BEST in CLASS intervention group. In regard to age, 49 were 4 years old and 7 were 5 years old. In terms of race/ethnicity, 51 were black, 9 white, 2 Hispanic, 3 other, and 1 for whom race was not included. There were 38 boys and 26 girls in the BAU group. In terms of age, 47 children were 4 years old, 9 were 3 years old, 7 were 5 years old, and 1 was 2 years old. There were 46 black children, 10 white, 3 Hispanic, and 5 of other race/ethnicity. The study did not provide information on whether or not there were statistically significant differences in demographic characteristics between children in the intervention and BAU groups.

The Teacher-Child Interaction Direct Observation System-Research Version 2.1 (TCIDOS-RV2.1) was used to observe and code all teacher and child behaviors (Conroy et al. 2015; Pianta 1993). Teacher behaviors were coded for the six instructional practices: 1) rules, 2) precorrection, 3) opportunity to respond, 4) behavior-specific praise, 5) instructive feedback, and 6) corrective feedback. Child behaviors were coded for four behaviors: 1) disruption or a verbalization, physical act, or gesture that either interrupts or has the potential to interrupt classroom instruction; 2) aggression or a behavior aimed at causing harm, pain, or personal injury; 3) defiance or a behavior that is challenging, noncompliant, confrontational, openly and boldly challenging, and resisting authority; and 4) engagement or participating appropriately or working on an assigned/approved activity. Interactions between teachers and children were coded as positive or negative. Mixed procedure and covariance analyses were used to estimate differences between study groups at pre- and posttest and at maintenance time points. The study authors did not conduct subgroup analyses.

Study 2
Sutherland and colleagues (2018a) drew participants from the earlier study of the BEST in CLASS intervention (Conroy and Sutherland 2011) to examine whether training and practice-based coaching were associated with teacher reports of child behavioral outcomes.

The overall sample consisted of 185 teachers and 462 children. There were 92 teachers in the intervention group and 93 in the BAU group. The majority were female (99 percent) and had, on average,12.09 years of prior teaching experience. In terms of race/ethnicity, 48 percent were black, 47 percent white, 3 percent Hispanic, 1 percent Asian/Pacific Islander, and 1 percent other. Of this group, 30 percent had an associate’s degree, 39 percent a bachelor’s degree, 26 percent a master’s degree, and 5 percent another degree. The study did not provide information on whether or not there were statistically significant differences in demographic characteristics between teachers in the intervention and BAU groups.

There were 230 children in the intervention group and 232 in the BAU group. Overall, 65 percent of child participants were boys and had an average age of 4.32 years at the beginning of the study. Sixty-six percent were black, 17 percent white, 5 percent Hispanic, and 12 percent other race/ethnicity. The study did not provide information on whether or not there were statistically significant differences in demographic characteristics between children in the intervention and BAU groups.

Data from observations occurred at baseline (pretest) and at the end of the intervention (posttest). The Caregiver Teacher Report Form (CTRF) was used to measure child externalizing problems and problem behavior of both groups at pre- and posttest (Achenbach and Rescorla 2000). The Social Skills Improvement System-Rating Scale (SSIS) was used to measure children’s social skills and problem behaviors (Gresham and Elliott 2008). Multilevel structural equation modeling was used to analyze the data. The study authors did not conduct subgroup analyses.

Study 3
Sutherland and colleagues (2018b) drew participants from the earlier study of the BEST in CLASS intervention (Conroy and Sutherland 2011) to assess the effect of the intervention on child problem behavior, teacher-child interactions, and teacher-child relationships.

A total of 185 teachers and 465 children participated in this study. There were 92 teachers in the intervention group and 93 in the BAU group. In the intervention group, 99 percent were female and 1 percent male. In terms of race/ethnicity, 48 percent were white, 45 percent black, 3 percent Hispanic, 1 percent Asian, and 2 percent other. Of this group, 30 percent had an associate’s degree, 40 percent a bachelor’s degree, 25 percent a master’s degree, and 4 percent another degree. In the BAU group, 97 percent were female and 3 percent were male. In terms of race/ethnicity, 51 percent were black, 45 percent white, 2 percent Hispanic, 1 percent Asian, and 1 percent other. Of the BAU group, 30 percent had an associate’s degree, 38 percent a bachelor’s degree, 27 percent a master’s degree, and 5 percent another degree. There were no statistically significant differences in demographics between teachers in the intervention and BAU groups at baseline.

There were 231 children in the intervention group and 234 in the BAU group. Sixty-four percent of children in the intervention group were boys, and 36 percent were girls. The average age was 4.29 years at the beginning of the study. Of the children in the intervention group, 66 percent were black, 16 percent white, 5 percent Hispanic, and 7 percent other race/ethnicity. Sixty-six percent of children in the BAU group were boys and 34 percent girls. The average age was 4.36 years at the beginning of the study. In terms of race/ethnicity, 67 percent were black,18 percent white, 4 percent Hispanic, and 7 percent other. There were no statistically significant differences in demographics between children in the intervention and BAU groups at baseline.

This study also used the TCIDOS-RV2.1, CTRF, and SSIS instruments to measure student-teacher relationships, problem behaviors, and social skills in children. In addition, an Individualized Classroom Assessment Scoring System (inCLASS) was used to assess children’s interactions with teachers, peers, and tasks in the classroom within the following three domains: 1) teacher interactions or positive engagement with teacher, teacher communication, and teacher conflict; 2) peer interactions or peer sociability, communication, assertiveness, and conflict; and 3) task orientation or engagement within tasks, self-reliance, and behavior control (Downer et al. 2010). A multilevel model was used to analyze data. The study authors did not conduct subgroup analyses.

Please note that across the three BEST in CLASS studies, there are variations in sample sizes for intervention group teachers and children. The authors attribute these variations in sample sizes to the fact that each study examined different outcome measures, which resulted in different sample sizes.
bottom border

Cost

top border
There is no cost information available for this program.
bottom border

Implementation Information

top border
The Teacher-Child Interaction Direct Observation System-Research Version 2.1 (TCIDOS-RV2.1) was designed by Conroy and colleagues (2015) to record and code responses related to implementation of the Behavioral, Emotional, and Social Training: Competent Learners Achieving School Success (BEST in CLASS) intervention. Trained observers observed and coded the occurrence/nonoccurrence of teachers’ use of instructional practices with focal children in the classroom and other related teacher and focal child responses that are of interest to the BEST in CLASS study. Behavioral observations, lasting approximately 15 minutes, occurred at three time points: baseline, posttest, and maintenance (4 weeks after posttest). Inter-observer reliability estimates were collected on 23 percent of observation sessions, equally across both groups, by having a secondary observer collect data at the same time as the primary observer. Overall, inter-observer reliability estimates per instructional practice code averaged between 89 and 99 percent.
bottom border

Evidence-Base (Studies Reviewed)

top border
These sources were used in the development of the program profile:

Study 1
Conroy, Maureen A., Kevin S. Sutherland, James J. Algina, Reynolds E. Wilson, Jose R. Martinez, and Kelly J. Whalon. 2015. “Measuring Teacher Implementation of the BEST in CLASS Intervention Program and Corollary Child Outcomes.” Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders 23(3):144–55.

Study 2
Sutherland, Kevin S., Maureen A. Conroy, Bryce D. McLeod, James Algina, and Eleanor Wu. 2018a. “Teacher Competence of Delivery of BEST in CLASS as a Mediator of Treatment Effects.” School Mental Health 10(3):214–25.

Study 3
Sutherland, Kevin S., Maureen A. Conroy, James Algina, Crystal Ladwig, Gabriel Jessee, and Maria Gyure. 2018b. “Reducing Child Problem Behaviors And Improving Teacher-Child Interactions and Relationships: A Randomized Controlled Trial of BEST in CLASS.” Early Childhood Research Quarterly 42:31–43.
bottom border

Additional References

top border
These sources were used in the development of the program profile:

Achenbach, Thomas M., and Leslie A. Rescorla. 2000. Manual for the ASEABA Preschool Forms and Profiles. Burlington, Vt.: University of Vermont, Department of Psychiatry.

Bronfenbrenner, Urie. 1979. The Ecology of Human Development: Experiments by Nature and Design. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Conroy, Maureen A., and Kevin S. Sutherland. 2011. Promoting Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Competence in Young High-Risk Children: A Preventative Classroom-Based Early Intervention Model. Unpublished manuscript. Richmond, Va.:  Virginia Commonwealth University.

Downer, Jason T., Leslie M. Booren, Olivia K. Lima, Amy E. Luckner, and Robert C. Pianta. 2010. “The Individualized Classroom Assessment Scoring System (inCLASS): Preliminary Reliability and Validity of a System for Observing Preschoolers’ Competence In Classroom Interactions.” Early Education Research Quarterly 25:1–16.

Feil, Edward G., Herbert H. Severson, and Hill M. Walker. 1998. “Screening for Emotional and Behavioral Delays: The Early Screening Project.” Journal of Early Intervention 21:252–66.

Gresham, Frank M., and Stephen N. Elliott. 2008. Social Skills Improvement System—Rating Scales. Minneapolis, Minn.: Pearson Assessments.

Newborg, Jean. 2005. Battelle Developmental Inventory, 2nd Edition, Examiner’s Manual. Rolling Meadows, Ill.: Riverside Publishing.

Pianta, Robert C. 1993. The Student-Teacher Relationship Scale. Charlottesville, Va.: University of Virginia.

Sameroff, Arnold. J. 1983. “Developmental Systems: Contexts and Evolution.” In P. H. Mussen, and W. Kessen (eds.). Handbook of Child Psychology: Vol 1. History, Theory, and Methods (Fourth Edition.). New York: Wiley, 237–294.

Skinner, Burrhus F. 1953. Science and Human Behavior. New York, N.Y.: Macmillan.
bottom border

Related Practices

top border
Following are CrimeSolutions.gov-rated practices that are related to this program:

Universal School-Based Prevention and Intervention Programs for Aggressive and Disruptive Behavior
Universal school-based prevention and intervention programs for aggressive and disruptive behavior target elementary, middle, and high school students in a universal setting, rather than focusing on only a selective group of students, with the intention of preventing or reducing violent, aggressive, or disruptive behaviors. The practice is rated Effective in reducing violent, aggressive, and/or disruptive behaviors in students.

Evidence Ratings for Outcomes:
Effective - More than one Meta-Analysis Juvenile Problem & At-Risk Behaviors



Early Self-Control Improvement Programs for Children
This practice consists of programs designed to increase self-control and reduce child behavior problems (e.g., conduct problems, antisocial behavior, and delinquency) with children up to age 10. Program types include social skills development, cognitive coping strategies, training/role playing, and relaxation training. This practice is rated Effective for improving self-control and reducing delinquency.

Evidence Ratings for Outcomes:
Effective - One Meta-Analysis Juvenile Problem & At-Risk Behaviors - Self-Control
Effective - One Meta-Analysis Crime & Delinquency - Multiple crime/offense types
bottom border


Program Snapshot

Age: 3 - 5

Gender: Both

Race/Ethnicity: Black, Asian/Pacific Islander, Hispanic, White, Other

Geography: Rural, Suburban, Urban

Setting (Delivery): School

Program Type: Classroom Curricula, School/Classroom Environment

Current Program Status: Active

Listed by Other Directories: Model Programs Guide

Researcher:
Maureen Conroy
Professor and Anita Zucker Endowed Professor in Early Childhood Studies; Co-Director, Anita Zucker Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Studies
University of Florida
Box 117050, 2-160R Norman Hall
Gainesville FL 32611-7050
Phone: 352.262.3916
Fax: 352-392-2655
Website
Email

Researcher:
Kevin Sutherland
Professor Director, PhD in Special Education and Disability Policy
Clark-Hill Institute for Positive Youth Development; Virginia Commonwealth University
1015 W. Main St., PO Box 842020
Richmond VA 23284
Phone: 804.827.2652
Email