Improving Preschool Classroom Processes: Preliminary findings from a randomized trial implemented in Head Start settings
This randomized trial targeted preschool teachers? classroom practices for improvement. Teachers (including lead teachers and assistant teachers) were invited to participate in five trainings on Saturdays, each lasting six hours.A behaviorally and evidence-based teacher training package was selected and purchased, and a seasoned trainer with Licensed Clinical SocialWorker (LCSW) qualifications delivered the 30 h of teacher training over fall and winter, adapting the Incredible Years Program teacher training module.
Using this experimental design and this model of intervention, what were the goals of this research project? Our long-term goal was to test whether this package of classroom-based services reduces children?s risk of behavioral difficulty and increases their chances of school readiness by improving teachers? classroom practices. While there have been a large number of experimental prevention trials targeting parenting practices for families with children with elevated behavior problems (for reviews, see Brotman et al., 2005; Raver, 2002; Webster-Stratton et al., 2001), we know of very few classroom-based interventions aimed at supporting teachers? practices in preschool settings. Yet, early educational settings represent a promising opportunity for interventions targeting children?s socioemotional difficulties.
Our experimental results suggest that classroom quality can be increased by as much as one-half to three-quarters of a standard deviation if programs make a clear, sustained commitment to program improvement by offering a package of intervention services that include workshops on classroom management paired with in-class mental health consultation. This is in keeping with findings from other recent randomized trial interventions targeting teachers? classroom practices (Gorman-Smith et al., 2003; Webster-Stratton et al., 2001).