, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp 55-63

Examining the Role of Implementation Quality in School-Based Prevention Using the PATHS Curriculum

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Abstract

In order for empirically validated school-based prevention programs to “go to scale,” it is important to understand the processes underlying program dissemination. Data collected in effectiveness trials, especially those measuring the quality of program implementation and administrative support, are valuable in explicating important factors influencing implementation. This study describes findings regarding quality of implementation in a recent effectiveness trial conducted in a high-risk, American urban community. This delinquency prevention trial is a locally owned intervention, which used the Promoting Alternative THinking Skills Curriculum as its major program component. The intervention involved 350 first graders in 6 inner-city public schools. Three schools implemented the intervention and the other 3 were comparison schools from the same school district. Although intervention effects were not found for all the intervention schools, the intervention was effective in improving children's emotional competence and reducing their aggression in schools which effectively supported the intervention. This study, utilizing data from the 3 intervention schools (13 classrooms and 164 students), suggested that 2 factors contributed to the success of the intervention: (a) adequate support from school principals and (b) high degree of classroom implementation by teachers. These findings are discussed in light of the theory-driven models in program evaluation that emphasized the importance of the multiple factors influencing the implementation of school-based interventions.