Evaluation of Skills for Secondary School Success (4S)

Portrait Of Smiling Male And Female Students In Grade School Classroom

SRI Education evaluation experts are partnering with John’s Hopkins University’s Center for the Social Organization of Schools (JHU CSOS) to measure the impact of its Skills for Secondary School Success (4S) course module on eighth grade students’ socioemotional competence, attendance, behavior, and course performance. SRI Education is conducting an independent evaluation of the impact, implementation, and cost of 4S. If found to be effective, this program could help prepare students to successfully transition into high school. This work is supported via funds from a mid-phase Education Innovation and Research (EIR) grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

The Skills for Secondary School Success course module provides 40 days of instructional materials that can be flexibly integrated into a middle school elective or other course. Skills for Secondary School Success is expected to result in improved student socioemotional (SEL) behaviors, including overall socioemotional competence, self-management, and social awareness, as well as improved student SEL intrapersonal competencies, including growth mindset, self-efficacy, sense of school belonging, calmness under pressure (i.e., reductions in perceived stress), goal orientation, and purpose.

Researchers at SRI are conducting a multisite randomized control trial (RCT) with 8th graders to assess the module’s impact on student outcomes. This will help researchers understand on which students and where the course has the greatest effects. The Skills for Secondary School Success course module is being offered as an alternative to business-as-usual instruction in an elective or other noncore course, with treatment students assigned to the Skills for Secondary Success course and control students assigned to a traditional course offered by their schools.

The overarching goal of the Skills for Secondary School Success course is to ensure that historically underserved youth have greater opportunities to graduate from high school college-and-career-ready. Research suggests that obtaining a high school diploma and post-secondary schooling or training are necessary for adult success, and self-management skills can promote positive behavior and strong academic performance. SRI’s partners at Johns Hopkins University seek to address the lack of curricula focused on developing noncognitive skills associated with self-management such as self-regulation, goal-directed behavior, and personal responsibility in students through the development and testing of the Skills for Secondary School Success Course Module.

Through the evaluation, SRI and Johns Hopkins University will contribute to an emerging body of knowledge about how to effectively support the development of self-management skills in school. SRI will measure key outcomes of 4S among 8th graders, including social-emotional skills, grades, attendance, and behavior. Johns Hopkins University posits that an improvement in these outcomes will ensure that students have a smoother transition to 9th grade and increase students’ likelihood of graduating from high school on time. SRI is also documenting overall program implementation and conducting a cost analysis of the program.

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