Tier 2 Supports to Improve Motivation and Performance of Elementary Students with Behavioral Challenges and Poor Work Completion

Article excerpt

Abstract

We offer a methodological illustration for researchers and practitioners of how to conduct a development study consistent with the parameters delineated by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES; U.S. Department of Education [USDE], 2010) to explore the utility of an existing Tier 1 intervention applied as a Tier 2 support within a three-tiered model. Although the present study was not submitted to or funded by IES, it was developed as a pilot study to address two objectives. First, we explored the utility of a character development intervention focused on improving goal setting, decision making, and self-management skills to meet the behavioral and instructional needs of fourthgrade students who have behavioral challenges and limited work completion, but who have adequate literacy skills. The main questions pertained to treatment integrity and social validity, with a goal of having a fully-developed intervention ready for testing as part of an efficacy trial. Specific research questions were as follows: To what extent was this type of Tier 2 support implemented within the regular school day with integrity? What did teachers and students think about the goals, procedures, and outcomes? Did this initial evidence suggest this intervention resulted in students learning the content taught (proximal outcomes) translating into improved skill sets (intermediate outcomes) and ultimately improved motivation (distal outcomes)? Second, we conducted this study to field test the required components specified in the IES 2010 RFA to assist in the development of a proposal to be submitted to IES for funding.

KEYWORDS: Tier 2, Intervention, Character Education, Emotional and Behavioral Disorders.

Students with emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD) are a diverse group known for pronounced behavioral and social skill excesses and deficits (Walker, Ramsey, & Gresham, 2004). Not only are behavioral and social skill deficits of concern for these students, but academic underachievement is often a concern as well (Nelson, Benner, Lane, & Smith, 2004). Academic performance is negatively impacted by low academic engagement, limited motivation, and limited self-determined behaviors (Carter, Lane, Crnobori, Bruhn, & Oakes, 2011; DiPerna & Elliott, 2002). As such, students with cooccurring needs represent one of our most at-risk student populations (Reinke, Herman, Petros, & Ialongo, 2008). Conservative estimates suggest 6% of school-age students have EBD (Kauffman & Landrum, 2009). With only about 1% of these students served by special education programs, a need exists to proactively identify and support students within general education. Three-tiered prevention models address this need and are being adopted by school-sites and districts across the country providing an early response to the needs of students before these difficulties become persistent.

Benefits of a Comprehensive, Integrated, Three-Tiered Model of Prevention

A comprehensive, integrated, three-tiered (CI3T) model of prevention offers benefits for supporting students academically, behaviorally, and socially. The CI3T model resembles practices of the Response to Intervention (RtI; D. Fuchs & Fuchs, 2006) model which identifies and responds to students' academic needs and the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS; Sugai & Homer, 2009) model attending primarily to students' behavioral and social skill needs. The CI3T model of prevention combines practices of RTI and PBIS models offering an approach with a comprehensive primary plan and use of behavioral and academic data to design, implement, and evaluate interventions (Tier 2 and Tier 3) supporting students across all domains (Lane, Oakes, & Menzies, 2010; McIntosh, Bohanon, & Goodman, n.d.). Integrated models are particularly beneficial for students with or at risk for emotional or behavioral difficulties since they provide a seamless delivery of increasingly-intensive supports (McIntosh, Chard, Boland, & Homer, 2006; Stewart, Benner, Martella, & Marchand-Martella, 2007). …