Reducing Problem Behaviors

THEORY TO PRACTICE, ISSUE NO. 8, FALL '16
Reducing Behavior Problems
A team of researchers will develop a framework to more easily identify and modify interventions.

Lee Kern, director of the Center for Promoting Research to Practice and professor of Special Education, received a three-year, $1.5 million grant from the Institute of Education Sciences to adapt Tier 2 behavior interventions for elementary school children. The team, which includes researchers from Vanderbilt University, will develop a framework to more easily identify and modify interventions to help children with mild to moderate behavior problems.

The project will be conducted in elementary schools in Pennsylvania and Tennessee. The team aims to develop ways to systematically identify and modify Tier 2 interventions within the context of a multi-tiered system for behavior support.

In a tiered system, students learn how they are expected to behave in school, with rewards for positive interactions and consequences for inappropriate behavior. Schools don't assume that students know what's expected, so every student receives Tier 1 interventions. Those who may need more instruction because they didn't respond to basic rules, rewards and consequences—about 10 to 15 percent of the school population—receive Tier 2 interventions, she said. Then, under Tier 3, students with the most needs—about 2 to 5 percent—get intensive, individualized supports to improve their behavior.

"There's a big leap between Tier 2 and Tier 3 interventions," said Kern. So, researchers will focus on ways to adapt those Tier 2 interventions to make them more effective and keep students from moving up so quickly to the next tier. Researchers will look at whether an intervention model used successfully in the public health arena can be adapted for school use. Kern believes the model holds a lot of promise in education.

By: Mary Ellen Alu