Welcome to Parsimony’s blog, where we help K-12 educators identify evidence based ways to maximize student outcomes.

This blog post is part of our What Works Clearinghouse review series. The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) is an initiative by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) which is the independent statistics, research, and evaluation arm of the United States Department of Education. WWC estimates the effectiveness of programs by evaluating the quality and quantity of evidence for that program.

This week’s blog post is about the evidence behind First Step to Success’s impact on students. Here’s the short version:

First Step to Success is an early intervention program designed to help children who are at risk for developing aggressive or antisocial behavioral patterns. The program uses a trained behavior coach who works with each student and his or her class peers, teachers, and parents for approximately 50–60 hours over a 3-month period.

The evidence for First Step to Success covers students in kindergarten through 3rd grade.

The outcomes examined include: emotional/internal behavior, external behavior, other academic performance, reading achievement, and social outcomes. Here’s what the evidence suggests about First Step to Success’s impact on each outcome:

  • Emotional/internal behavior: Positive impact (an average student would be expected to improve by 10 percentile points)
  • External behavior: Positive impact (an average student would be expected to improve by 28 percentile points)
  • Other academic performance : Positive impact (an average student would be expected to improve by 13 percentile points)
  • Reading achievement: No detectable impact
  • Social outcomes: Positive impact (an average student would be expected to improve by 23 percentile points)

The studies looking into First Step to Success had student samples that were in urban areas in New Mexico and Oregon, had students who were White, and Hispanic, were male and female, and were English language learners, and received free & reduced price lunch.

You can find the full report from the What Works Clearinghouse here:

https://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/Docs/InterventionReports/wwc_firststep_030612.pdf

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