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The Journal of School Psychology: Promoting science at JSP: Focus on special content and current status of the journal

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School psychology research and practice has considerable room for growth to go beyond "did an intervention work?" to "what intervention worked for whom and how did it work?" The latter question reflects a more precise understanding of intervention, and involves strategic efforts to enhance the precision of services students with academic, behavioral, emotional, or physical health problems receive to enhance the degree to which interventions are appropriately tailored to and produce benefit for individual students. The purpose of this special issue is to advance the notion and science of precision education, which is defined as an approach to research and practice that is concerned with tailoring preventive and intervention practices to individuals based on the best available evidence. This introductory article provides context for the special issue by discussing reasons why precision education is needed, providing definitions/descriptions of precision education research, and outlining opportunities to advance the science of precision education. Six empirical studies and one methodological-oriented article were compiled to provide examples of the breadth of research that falls under precision education. Although each of the article focuses on students with different needs (literacy deficits, math deficits, emotional and behavior problems, and intellectual disability), there is a common thread that binds them together, and that is each one captures the heterogeneity among students with particular problems or deficits and highlights the need to select and deliver more precise interventions to optimize student outcomes.
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Small-group reading interventions are commonly used in schools but the components that make them effective are still debated or unknown. The current study meta-analyzed 26 small-group reading intervention studies that resulted in 27 effect sizes. Findings suggested a moderate overall effect for small-group reading interventions (weighted g = 0.54). Interventions were more effective if they were targeted to a specific skill (g = 0.65), then as part of a comprehensive intervention program that addressed multiple skills (g = 0.35). There was a small correlation between intervention effects and group size (r = 0.21) and duration (r = 0.11). Small-group interventions led to a larger median effect size (g = 0.64) for elementary-aged students than for those in middle or high school (g = 0.20), but the two confidence intervals overlapped. Implications for research and practice are discussed.
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The purpose of this replication study was to evaluate the potential efficacy and feasibility of an early reading intervention for children with Down syndrome. The intervention was developed in alignment with the Down syndrome behavioral phenotype. Six children between the ages of seven and ten years participated in a series of multiple-probe across lessons single-case design studies. Results indicate a functional relation between intervention and reading outcomes for four children. Results were mixed for one participant and no functional relation was demonstrated for another. The potential promise of pursuing aptitude-by-treatment interaction research for subgroups of learners with similar characteristics as an effort to personalize intervention is discussed.
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This study reports the results of a randomized controlled trial examining the effect of Conjoint Behavioral Consultation (CBC), a family-school partnership intervention, on children's behaviors, parents' skills, and parent-teacher relationships in rural community and town settings. Participants were 267 children, 267 parents, and 152 teachers in 45 Midwestern schools. Using an Intent to Treat approach and data analyzed within a multilevel modeling framework, CBC yielded promising results for some but not all outcomes. Specifically, children participating in CBC experienced decreases in daily reports of aggressiveness, noncompliance, and temper tantrums; and increases in parent-reported adaptive skills and social skills at a significantly greater pace than those in a control group. Other outcomes (e.g., parent reports of internalizing and externalizing behaviors) suggested a nonsignificant effect at post-test. CBC parents reported using more effective parenting strategies, gaining more competence in their problem-solving practices, and feeling more efficacious for helping their child succeed in school than parents in the control group. Parents participating in CBC also reported significant improvements in the parent-teacher relationship, and the parent-teacher relationship mediated the effect of CBC on children's adaptive skills. Implications for practice in rural communities, study limitations, and directions for future research are discussed.
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This article presents the results of an evaluation of Positive Family Support, an ecological family intervention and treatment approach to parent supports and family management training developed from a history of basic and translational research. This effectiveness trial, with 41 public middle schools randomly assigned to intervention or control, examined student-, teacher-, and parent-reported outcomes, as well as math and reading scores and school attendance. Multilevel analyses suggested that for students at risk for behavior problems, immediate-intervention schools outperformed control schools on parent-reported negative school contacts for students at risk for behavior problems. Implementation, however, was hampered by several challenges, including school funding cuts, lack of staff time to provide parenting supports, and staff turnover. Given that preventive interventions are generally cost effective, it is critical that researchers continue their efforts to refine these interventions and find ways to support schools' implementation of evidence-based programs that can reduce problem behavior. This article is part of a special issue “Parental Engagement in School-Based Interventions”.
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The current study represents the first psychometric evaluation of an American English into German translation of a school-based universal screening measure designed to assess academic and disruptive behavior problems. This initial study examines the factor structure and diagnostic accuracy of the newly translated measure in a large sample of 1009 German schoolchildren attending grades 1-6 in Western Germany. Confirmatory factor analysis supported a two-factor model for both male- and female- students. Configural invariance was supported between male- and female-samples. However scalar invariance was not supported, with higher thresholds for ratings of female students. Results of receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analyses were indicative of good to excellent diagnostic accuracy with areas under the curve ranging from 0.89 to 0.93. Optimal cut-off scores were 10, 5, and 13 for the Academic Productivity/Disorganization, Oppositional/Disruptive, and the Total Problems Composite scores of the Integrated System Teacher Rating Form respectively. This initial study of the newly translated measure supports further investigations into its utility for universal screening in German speaking schools.
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With the growing adoption and implementation of multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS) in school settings, there is increasing need for rigorous evaluations of adaptive-sequential interventions. That is, MTSS specify universal, selected, and indicated interventions to be delivered at each tier of support, yet few investigations have empirically examined the continuum of supports that are provided to students both within and across tiers. This need is compounded by a variety of prevention approaches that have been developed with distinct theoretical foundations (e.g., Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, Social-Emotional Learning) that are available within and across tiers. As evidence-based interventions continue to flourish, school-based practitioners greatly need evaluations regarding optimal treatment sequencing. To this end, we describe adaptive treatment strategies as a natural fit within the MTSS framework. Specifically, sequential multiple assignment randomized trials (SMART) offer a promising empirical approach to rigorously develop and compare adaptive treatment regimens within this framework.
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This study compared consequence-and antecedent-based strategies to determine which treatments or combination of treatments produced the strongest improvements in math computation fluency with four elementary-aged students whose math computation was under the control of an escape contingency. Functional analyses were conducted to identify elementary-school students whose academic responding was under a negative-reinforcement contingency. A multielement design was then used to examine the impact of four treatments (DNRA, DRA, task choice, and task choice plus DRA) on each student's rate of correct digits per min. All four treatments increased rate of responding. Differentiated results were obtained for all participants, indicating a reliable effect. Yet, participants responded differently to the treatments, illustrating the need to investigate and adapt interventions for escape-motivated behavior on a case-by-case basis. Results are also discussed in terms of the effectiveness of choice relative to reinforcement procedures, whether there were additional benefits to combining treatments, and which type of reinforcement procedures (DRA or DNRA) appears to be more effective for students whose behavior is under the control of an escape contingency.
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Accumulating evidence suggests that assessment-informed personalized instruction, tailored to students' individual skills and abilities, is more effective than more one-size-fits-all approaches. In this study, we evaluate the efficacy of Individualizing Student Instruction in Mathematics (ISI-Math) compared to Reading (ISI-Reading) where classrooms were randomly assigned to ISI-Math or ISI-Reading. The literature on child characteristics X instruction or skill X treatment interaction effects point to the complexities of tailoring instruction for individual students who present with constellations of skills. Second graders received mathematics instruction in small flexible learning groups based on their assessed learning needs. Results of the study (n = 32 teachers, 370 students) revealed significant treatment effects on standardized mathematics assessments. With effect sizes (d) of 0.41–0.60, we show that we can significantly improve 2nd graders' mathematics achievement, including for children living in poverty, by using assessment data to individualize the mathematics instruction they receive. The instructional regime, ISI-Math, was implemented by regular classroom teachers and it led to about a 4-month achievement advantage on standardized mathematics tests when compared to students in control classrooms. These results were realized within one school year. Moreover, treatment effects were the same regardless of school-level poverty and students' gender, initial mathematics or vocabulary scores.
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This study explored patterns of change in the REDI (Research-based Developmentally Informed) Parent program (REDI-P), designed to help parents support child learning at the transition into kindergarten. Participants were 200 prekindergarten children attending Head Start (55% European-American, 26% African American, 19% Latino, 56% male, Mage = 4.45 years, SD = 0.29) and their primary caregivers, who were randomized to a 16-session home-visiting intervention (REDI-P) or a control group. Extending beyond a prior study documenting intervention effects on parenting behaviors and child kindergarten outcomes, this study assessed the impact of REDI-P on parent academic expectations, and then explored the degree to which intervention gains in three areas of parenting (parent-child interactive reading, parent-child conversations, parent academic expectations) predicted child outcomes in kindergarten (controlling for baseline values and a set of child and family characteristics). Results showed that REDI-P promoted significant gains in parent academic expectations, which in turn mediated intervention gains in child emergent literacy skills and self-directed learning. Results suggest a need to attend to the beliefs parents hold about their child's academic potential, as well as their behavioral support for child learning, when designing interventions to enhance the school success of children in low-income families.
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This study described the relations of parents' and teachers' beliefs and attitudes to forms of parents' involvement in children's first two years of primary school. Parents of children in their first year of primary school (age 5) were recruited from 12 classrooms within four schools in New Zealand; 196 families participated in their child's first year, and 124 families continued to participate in their child's second school year. Parents completed the Family-Involvement Questionnaire, New Zealand, and we archivally collected parent-documented children's oral reading homework. Teachers' rated helpfulness of parents' involvement at school (level 2) and parents' rated teacher invitations to be involved and their perceived time and energy (level 1) contributed to school-based involvement in Year 1 in multilevel models, with parents' rated teacher invitations for involvement also found to predict Year 1 home-school communication in regression analyses. Contributors to Year 1 child-parent reading in multilevel models included level 1 predictors of two or more adults in the home and parents' perceived time and energy. Longitudinal analyses suggested both consistency and change in each form of involvement from Year 1 to Year 2, with increases in each form of involvement found to be associated with increases in parents' and/or teachers' views about involvement in Year 2 in cross-sectional time-series analyses. Implications for schools wanting to engage families are that parents' involvement in children's schooling may be influenced by parents' perceptions of their capacity, teachers' engagement efforts, and the school's climate for involvement. This is a special issue paper “Family Engagement in Education and Intervention”.
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This study describes the results from a feasibility study of an innovative indicated prevention intervention with hybrid face-to-face and web-based components for preadolescent youth. This intervention includes a considerably briefer set of face-to-face sessions from the evidence-based Coping Power program and a carefully integrated internet component with practice and teaching activities and cartoon videos for children and for parents. The Coping Power – Internet Enhanced (CP-IE) program introduces a set of cognitive-behavioral skills in 12 small group sessions for children delivered during the school day and 7 group sessions for parents. Eight elementary schools were randomly assigned to CP-IE or to Control, and six children at each school were identified each year based on 4th grade teacher ratings of aggressive behavior. Path analyses of teacher-rated disruptive behavior outcomes for 91 fifth grade children, across two annual cohorts, indicated Control children had significantly greater increases in conduct problem behaviors across the 5th grade year than did CP-IE children. This much briefer version of Coping Power provided beneficial preventive effects on children's behavior in the school setting similar to the effects of the longer version of Coping Power. The website materials appeared to successfully engage children, and parents' use of the website predicted children's changes in conduct problems across the year.
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Evidence-based interventions (EBIs) have become a central component of school psychology research and practice, but EBIs are dependent upon the availability and use of evidence-based assessments (EBAs) with diverse student populations. Multi-group confirmatory factor analysis (MG-CFA) is an analytical tool that can be used to examine the validity and measurement equivalence/invariance of scores across diverse groups. The objective of this article is to provide a conceptual and procedural overview of categorical MG-CFA, as well as an illustrated example based on data from the Social and Academic Behavior Risk Screener (SABRS) – a tool designed for use in school-based interventions. This article serves as a non-technical primer on the topic of MG-CFA with ordinal (rating scale) data and does so through the framework of examining equivalence of measures used for EBIs within multi-tiered models – an understudied topic. To go along with the illustrated example, we have provided supplementary files that include sample data, Mplus input code, and an annotated guide for understanding the input code (http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jsp.2016.11.002). Data needed to reproduce analyses in this article are available as supplemental materials (online only) in the Appendix of this article.
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A bifactor item response theory model can be used to aid in the interpretation of the dimensionality of a multifaceted questionnaire that assumes continuous latent variables underlying the propensity to respond to items. This model can be used to describe the locations of people on a general continuous latent variable as well as on continuous orthogonal specific traits that characterize responses to groups of items. The bifactor graded response (bifac-GR) model is presented in contrast to a correlated traits (or multidimensional GR model) and unidimensional GR model. Bifac-GR model specification, assumptions, estimation, and interpretation are demonstrated with a reanalysis of data (Campbell, 2008) on the Shared Activities Questionnaire. We also show the importance of marginalizing the slopes for interpretation purposes and we extend the concept to the interpretation of the information function. To go along with the illustrative example analyses, we have made available supplementary files that include command file (syntax) examples and outputs from flexMIRT, IRTPRO, R, Mplus, and STATA. Supplementary data to this article can be found online at http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jsp.2016.11.001. Data needed to reproduce analyses in this article are available as supplemental materials (online only) in the Appendix of this article.
Article
Mixture item response theory (IRT) allows one to address situations that involve a mixture of latent subpopulations that are qualitatively different but within which a measurement model based on a continuous latent variable holds. In this modeling framework, one can characterize students by both their location on a continuous latent variable as well as by their latent class membership. For example, in a study of risky youth behavior this approach would make it possible to estimate an individual's propensity to engage in risky youth behavior (i.e., on a continuous scale) and to use these estimates to identify youth who might be at the greatest risk given their class membership. Mixture IRT can be used with binary response data (e.g., true/false, agree/disagree, endorsement/not endorsement, correct/incorrect, presence/absence of a behavior), Likert response scales, partial correct scoring, nominal scales, or rating scales. In the following, we present mixture IRT modeling and two examples of its use. Data needed to reproduce analyses in this article are available as supplemental online materials at http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jsp.2016.01.002.
Article
Randomized control trials (RCTs) have long been the gold standard for allowing causal inferences to be made regarding the efficacy of a treatment under investigation, but traditional RCT data analysis perspectives do not take into account a common reality: imperfect participant compliance to treatment. Recent advances in both maximum likelihood parameter estimation and mixture modeling methodology have enabled treatment effects to be estimated, in the presence of less than ideal levels of participant compliance, via a Complier Average Causal Effect (CACE) structural equation mixture model. CACE is described in contrast to “intent to treat” (ITT), “per protocol”, and “as treated” RCT data analysis perspectives. CACE model assumptions, specification, estimation, and interpretation will all be demonstrated with simulated data generated from a randomized controlled trial of cognitive-behavioral therapy for Juvenile Fibromyalgia. CACE analysis model figures, linear model equations, and Mplus estimation syntax examples are all provided. Data needed to reproduce analyses in this article are available as supplemental materials (online only) in the Appendix of this article.
Article
Bullying is common in U.S. schools and is linked to emotional, behavioral, and academic risk for school-aged students. School policies and practices focused on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) have been designed to reduce bullying and show promising results. Most studies have drawn from students' reports: We examined teachers' reports of bullying problems in their schools along with their assessments of school safety, combined with principals' reports of SOGI-focused policies and practices. Merging two independent sources of data from over 3000 teachers (California School Climate Survey) and nearly 100 school principals (School Health Profiles) at the school level, we used multi-level models to understand bullying problems in schools. Our results show that SOGI-focused policies reported by principals do not have a strong independent association with teachers' reports of bullying problems in their schools. However, in schools with more SOGI-focused policies, the association between teachers' assessments of school safety and bullying problems is stronger. Recent developments in education law and policy in the United States and their relevance for student well-being are discussed.
Article
Many lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth experience harassment and discrimination in schools and these experiences lead to increased negative social-emotional outcomes. Youth who can identify at least one supportive adult at school report better outcomes than youth who cannot identify a safe adult. Yet, many educators report feeling uncomfortable or unprepared to support LGBT youth. One reason for educators' discomfort may be that content related to issues unique to LGBT youth is sometimes missing or covered minimally in university training programs. We hypothesized that LGBT content may be covered minimally in school support personnel journals, as well. This study analyzed eight school support personnel journals across the disciplines of school counseling, school nursing, school psychology, and school social work for LGBT content published between 2000 and 2014 to gain a better understanding of the visibility of LGBT issues in the research. Results suggested that there has been a lack of presence of LGBT issues in journals across disciplines. These results also suggest a need for an intentional focus on issues relevant to LGBT youth in school support personnel journals. Thus, the article concludes with an introduction to two articles in this special topic section, including Russell, Day, Ioverno, and Toomey's (in this issue) study on teacher perceptions of bullying in the context of enumerated school policies and other supportive sexual orientation and gender identity related practices and Poteat and Vecho's (in this issue) study on characteristics of bystanders in homophobic bullying situations. The broad goal of these three studies is to increase visibility of critical LGBT issues in school support personnel journals.
Article
Research on homophobic behavior has focused on students engaging in this behavior or students toward whom this behavior is directed. There has been little attention to the large segment of students who observe this behavior, including active bystanders who defend or support students when homophobic behavior occurs. Among 722 high school students (55% female, 87% white, 86% heterosexual), 66.8% had observed at least one instance of homophobic behavior in the past 30 days. Gender (in this case, girls more so than boys), leadership, courage, altruism, justice sensitivity, and number of LGBT friends were associated with engagement in more active bystander behavior in response to observing homophobic behavior. Further, gender, courage, altruism, and number of LGBT friends each made unique contributions in accounting for variability in students' defending behavior in a comprehensive regression model. Findings highlight qualities that interventionists should cultivate in students that could lead to more active bystander engagement against homophobic behavior.
Initial development and evaluation of the student intervention matching (SIM) form
  • F G Miller
  • C R Cook
  • Y Zhang
Miller, F. G., Cook, C. R., & Zhang, Y. (2018). Initial development and evaluation of the student intervention matching (SIM) form. Journal of School Psychology, 66. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jsp.2017.04.005.
Impact of incredible years on teacher perceptions of parental involvement: A latent transition analysis
  • A M Thompson
  • K C Herman
  • M A Stormont
  • W M Reinke
  • C Webster-Stratton
Thompson, A. M., Herman, K. C., Stormont, M. A., Reinke, W. M., & Webster-Stratton, C. (2017). Impact of incredible years on teacher perceptions of parental involvement: A latent transition analysis. Journal of School Psychology, 62. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jsp.2017.03.00.
  • K Michelle
Michelle K. Demaray Editorial Journal of School Psychology 66 (2018) 1-3