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Effectiveness Study of Tools for Getting Along: Teaching Students to Problem Solve

In a large-scale effectiveness study, SRI Education is assessing whether the Tools for Getting Along social problem-solving curriculum helps improve the behavior, problem-solving skills, and educational outcomes of elementary school students.


SRI Education is examining the effectiveness of Tools for Getting Along , an evidence-based social problem-solving curriculum. Tools for Getting Along guides Grade 4 and 5 teachers in establishing a positive, cooperative classroom atmosphere and helps students positively navigate social and interpersonal challenges, and learn how to manage their own behavior. The 5-year effectiveness study (2016–21) is funded by the U.S. Department of Education and conducted in partnership with the University of Florida. The study is taking in place in 50 elementary schools in districts in California, Oklahoma, and Kentucky, where SRI researchers are administering surveys about social-emotional and behavioral competencies to all participating teachers and their students to evaluate the short- and long-term impacts of the Tools for Getting Along curriculum.

Background

Tools for Getting Along is an evidence-based social problem-solving curriculum intended to teach upper elementary (Grades 4 and 5) students how to handle difficult social situations and build positive relationships. Though Tools for Getting Along is designed to support the social problem-solving skills of all children in the classroom, it is intended to be particularly impactful for students who struggle with behavioral difficulties and poor social skills. Tools for Getting Along can therefore play a critical role in interrupting patterns of disruptive behavior that can result in long-term academic difficulties. To accomplish this goal, Tools for Getting Along guides teachers in establishing a positive, cooperative classroom atmosphere through structured lesson plans and activities that enable students to become better problem solvers as they encounter social and interpersonal challenges. Tools for Getting Along promotes social problem-solving skills to help students learn how to manage their own behavior and teachers actively engage students in learning through activities, such as role-playing.

Effectiveness study of Tools for Getting Along

This effectiveness study is funded through a 5-year (2016–21) research grant from the U.S. Department of Education and conducted in partnership with the University of Florida. SRI researchers are evaluating the effectiveness of Tools for Getting Along at reducing anger and behavior problems, and improving social skills and executive functions among 4th grade students, as well as at a 1-year follow-up under routine conditions. The randomized controlled trial is taking place in 50 elementary schools in urban, suburban, and rural school districts in California, Oklahoma, and Kentucky. SRI researchers have administered questionnaires to all participating 4th grade students and their teachers to assess students’ social-emotional and behavioral competencies. Researchers collected classroom observations to monitor fidelity of implementation to the Tools for Getting Along curriculum. To understand effects on academic achievement and school disciplinary actions, SRI researchers are working with participating districts to collect state test scores, attendance records, and disciplinary referrals. In the 2020–21 school year, SRI researchers will conclude collecting 1-year follow-up date with participating 5th grade students. Researchers are currently analyzing and disseminating study findings, including evidence of the overall impact of Tools for Getting Along, as well as the role of the quality of implementation of the curriculum.

The study presented here is supported by the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, through Grant R324A160010 to SRI International. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not represent views of the Institute or the U.S. Department of Education.

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