In response to the need for systematic evaluations of promising current school-based programs and to provide rigorous evidence of their efficacy, the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), National Center for Education Research and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control established the Social and Character Development Research Program. Under a competitive application process, applicants proposed programs to be evaluated so long as the programs: a) had either preliminary evidence of success or a history of previous implementation in schools, b) aimed to influence social development and behavior outcomes, and c) utilized a universal approach to be implemented in all elementary school classrooms. Applications submitted to IES were peer reviewed, and seven research institutions were funded under cooperative agreements for a three-year evaluation of seven universal school-based programs intended to improve students' social and character development. At each of seven sites, one research team randomized 10 to 18 schools to either continue their current practice or implement a coherent program targeting social and behavioral outcomes. The programs employed activities to promote six social and character development goals (character education, violence prevention and peace promotion, social and emotional development, tolerance and diversity, risk prevention and health promotion, and civic responsibility and community service) as well as behavior management. The programs were coherent in that their activities were integrated and logically organized based on a theory of action (that differed among the programs), school-based in that they were implemented in the schools using school personnel, and universal in that they were to be implemented for all students in all elementary classrooms.
Source: National Center for Education Statistics
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