Prevention Science

, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 439–449 | Cite as

Understanding and Measuring Coach–Teacher Alliance: A Glimpse Inside the ‘Black Box’

  • Stacy R. Johnson
  • Elise T. Pas
  • Catherine P. Bradshaw


Coaching models are increasingly used in schools to enhance fidelity and effectiveness of evidence-based interventions; yet, little is known about the relationship between the coach and teacher (i.e., coach–teacher alliance), which may indirectly enhance teacher and student outcomes through improved implementation quality. There is also limited research on measures of coach–teacher alliance, further hindering the field from understanding the active components for successful coaching. The current study examined the factor structure and psychometric characteristics of a measure of coach–teacher alliance as reported by both teachers and coaches and explored the extent to which teachers and coaches reliably rate their alliance. Data come from a sample of 147 teachers who received implementation support from one of four coaches; both the teacher and the coach completed an alliance questionnaire. Separate confirmatory factor analyses for each informant revealed four factors (relationship, process, investment, and perceived benefits) as well as an additional coach-rated factor (perceived teacher barriers). A series of analyses, including cross-rater correlations, intraclass correlation coefficients, and Kuder-Richardson reliability estimates suggested that teachers and coaches provide reliable, though not redundant, information about the alliance. Implications for future research and the utilization of the parallel coach–teacher alliance measures to increase the effectiveness of coaching are discussed.


Teachers Coaching Alliance Implementation of evidence-based interventions 



We thank Celene Domitrovich, Wendy Reinke, Keith Herman, and Jeanne Poduska for their consultation on the alliance measures used and tested in the Double Check Project. Support for this work comes from the U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences (R324A110107; R305A150221, R305A130701), Spencer Foundation, and the National Institute of Mental Health (T32 MH019545-23).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

All procedures were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all participants included in the study.


  1. Ackerman, S. J., & Hilsenroth, M. J. (2003). A review of therapist characteristics and techniques positively impacting the therapeutic alliance. Clinical Psychology Review, 23, 1–33. doi: 10.1016/S0272-7358(02)00146-0 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Allen, S. J., & Graden, J. L. (2002). Best practices in collaborative problem solving for intervention design. In A. Thomas & J. Grimes (Eds.), Best practices in school psychology (4th ed., pp. 414–435). Bethesda: National Association of School Psychologists.Google Scholar
  3. Becker, K. D., Darney, D., Domitrovich, C. E., Keperling, J. P., & Ialongo, N. S. (2013). Supporting universal prevention programs: A two-phased coaching model. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 16, 213–228. doi: 10.1007/s10567-013-0134-2
  4. Bentler, P. M., & Bonett, D. G. (1980). Significance tests and goodness of fit in the analysis of covariance structures. Psychological Bulletin, 88, 588–606. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.88.3.588 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bordin, E. S. (1979). The generalizability of the psychoanalytic concept of the working alliance. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, and Practice, 16, 252–260. doi: 10.1037/h0085885
  6. Bottiani, J. H., Bradshaw, C. P., Rosenberg, M. S., Hershfeldt, P. A., Pell, K. L., & Debnam, K. J. (2012). Applying Double Check to response to intervention: Culturally responsive practices for learning disabilities. Insight on Learning Disabilities: Prevailing Theories to Validated Practices, 9, 93–107.Google Scholar
  7. Bradshaw, C. P. & Rosenberg, M. S. (2016). Supporting schools in cultural proficiency and student engagement. Unpublished book.Google Scholar
  8. Bradshaw, C. P., Pas, E. T., Domitrovich, C. E., Reinke, W. M., Herman, K., & Poduska, J. M. (2009a). Measure of Coach and Teacher Alliance-Teacher Report. Unpublished Measure. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University.Google Scholar
  9. Bradshaw, C. P., Pas, E. T., Domitrovich, C. E., Reinke, W. M., Herman, K., & Poduska, J. M. (2009b). Measure of Coach and Teacher Alliance-Coach Report. Unpublished Measure. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University.Google Scholar
  10. Burbank, M. D., & Kauchak, D. (2003). An alternative model for professional development: Investigations into effective collaboration. Teaching and Teacher Education, 19, 499–514. doi: 10.1016/S0742-051X(03)00048-9 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cowan, R. J., & Sheridan, S. M. (2003). Investigating the acceptability of behavioral interventions in applied conjoint behavioral consultation: Moving from analog conditions to naturalistic settings. School Psychology Quarterly, 18, 1–21. doi: 10.1521/scpq.
  12. Datnow, A., & Castellano, M. (2000). Teachers’ responses to success for all: How beliefs, experiences, and adaptations shape implementation. American Educational Research Journal, 37, 775–799. doi: 10.2307/1163489
  13. Domitrovich, C. E., Bradshaw, C. P., Poduska, J. M., Hoagwood, K., Buckley, J. A., Olin, S., . . . Ialongo, N. S. (2008). Maximizing the implementation quality of evidence-based preventive interventions in schools: A conceptual framework. Advances in School Mental Health Promotion, 1, 6–28. doi:  10.1080/1754730x.2008.9715730
  14. Domitrovich, C. E., Poduska, J. M., & Bradshaw, C. P. (2008b). The Coach-Teacher Alliance Scale. Penn State University: Unpublished technical report.Google Scholar
  15. Domitrovich, C. E., Poduska, J. M., & Bradshaw, C. P. (2008c). The Teacher-Coach Alliance Scale. Penn State University: Unpublished technical report.Google Scholar
  16. Domitrovich, C. E., Bradshaw, C. P., Greenberg, M. T., Embry, D., Poduska, J. M., & Ialongo, N. S. (2010). Integrated models of school-based prevention: Logic and theory. Psychology in the Schools, 47, 71–88. doi: 10.1002/pits.20452.
  17. Domitrovich, C. E., Pas, E. T., Bradshaw, C. P., Becker, K. D., Keperling, J. P., Embry, D. D., & Ialongo, N. (2015). Individual and school organizational factors that influence implementation of the PAX Good Behavior Game Intervention. Prevention Science. doi: 10.1007/s11121-015-0557-8 Google Scholar
  18. Eckert, T. L., & Hintze, J. M. (2000). Behavioral conceptions and applications of acceptability: Issues related to service delivery and research methodology. School Psychology Quarterly, 15, 123–148. doi: 10.1037/h0088782 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Elliott, S. N. (1988). Acceptability of behavioral treatments: Review of variables that influence treatment selection. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 19, 68–80. doi: 10.1037/0735-7028.19.1.68 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Frank, J. L., & Kratochwill, T. R. (2014). School-based problem-solving consultation: Plotting a new course for evidence-based research and practice in consultation. In W. P. Erchul & S. M. Sheridan (Eds.), Handbook of research in school consultation (2nd ed., pp. 13–30). New York: Taylor and Francis.Google Scholar
  21. Hamre, B. K., Pianta, R. C., Burchinal, M., Field, S., LoCasale-Crouch, J., Downer, J. T., . . . Scott-Little, C. (2012). A course on effective teacher-child interactions: Effects on teacher beliefs, knowledge, and observed practice. American Educational Research Journal, 49, 88–123. doi:  10.3102/0002831211434596
  22. Han, S. S., & Weiss, B. (2005). Sustainability of teacher implementation of school-based mental health programs. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 33, 665–679. doi: 10.1007/s10802-005-7646-2 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Hart, V., Blattner, J., & Leipsic, S. (2001). Coaching versus therapy: A perspective. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 53, 229–237. doi: 10.1037/1061-4087.53.4.229 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hershfeldt, P. A., Sechrest, R., Pell, K., Rosenberg, M. S., Bradshaw, C. P., & Leaf, P. J. (2009). Double-Check: A process of cultural responsiveness applied to classroom behavior. Teaching Exceptional Children PLUS, 6, 2–18.Google Scholar
  25. Horvath, A. O., & Greenberg, L. S. (1989). Development and validation of the Working Alliance Inventory. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 36, 223–233. doi: 10.1037/0022-0167.36.2.223 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Horvath, A. O., & Symonds, B. D. (1991). Relation between working alliance and outcome in psychotherapy: A meta-analysis. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 38, 139–149. doi: 10.1037/0022-0167.38.2.139 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hu, L., & Bentler, P. M. (1999). Cutoff criteria for fit indexes in covariance structure analysis: Conventional criteria versus new alternatives. Structural Equation Modeling: A Multidisciplinary Journal, 6, 1–55. doi: 10.1080/10705519909540118 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Huberman, M. (1993). Burnout in teaching careers. European Education, 25, 47–69. doi: 10.2753/eue1056-4934250347 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kuder, G. F., & Richardson, M. W. (1937). The theory of the estimation of test reliability. Psychometrika, 2, 151–160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Martin, D. J., Garske, J. P., & Davis, M. K. (2000). Relation of the therapeutic alliance with outcome and other variables: A meta-analytic review. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 68, 438–450. doi: 10.1037/0022-006x.68.3.438 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Mascendaro, P. M., Herman, K. C., & Webster-Stratton, C. (2012). Parent discrepancies in ratings of young children’s co-occurring internalizing symptoms. School Psychology Quarterly, 27, 134–143. doi: 10.1037/a0029320 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Maslach, C., Schaufeli, W. B., & Leiter, M. P. (2001). Job burnout. Annual Review of Psychology, 52, 397–422. doi: 10.1146/annurev.psych.52.1.397 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Muthén, L. K. & Muthén, B. O. (1998–2014). Mplus User’s Guide (Vol. 7). Los Angeles, CA: Muthén & Muthén.Google Scholar
  34. Nadeem, E., Gleacher, A., & Beidas, R. S. (2013). Consultation as an implementation strategy for evidence-based practices across multiple contexts: Unpacking the black box. Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research, 40, 439–450. doi: 10.1007/s10488-013-0502-8
  35. Newman, D. S., Guiney, M. C., & Barrett, C. A. (2015). Language use in consultation: Can “we” help teachers and students? Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 67, 48–64. doi: 10.1037/cpb0000028 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Pas, E. T., Bradshaw, C. P., & Cash, A. H. (2014). Coaching classroom-based preventive interventions. In M. D. Weist, N. A. Lever, C. P. Bradshaw, & J. S. Owens (Eds.), Handbook of School Mental Health: Research, Training, Practice, and Policy (2nd ed., pp. 255–267). New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Pas, E. T., Bradshaw, C. P., Becker, K. D., Domitrovich, C. E., Berg, J., Musci, R., & Ialongo, N. S. (2015). Identifying patterns of coaching to support the implementation of the Good Behavior Game: The role of teacher characteristics. School Mental Health, 7, 61–73. doi: 10.1007/s12310-015-9145-0 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Power, T. J., Soffer, S. L., Mautone, J. A., Costigan, T. E., Jones, H. A., Clarke, A. T., & Marshall, S. A. (2009). An analysis of teacher investment in the context of a family–school intervention for children with ADHD. School Mental Health, 1, 107–117. doi: 10.1007/s12310-009-9005-x CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  39. Reinke, W. M., Lewis-Palmer, T., & Merrell, K. (2008). The Classroom Check-up: A classwide teacher consultation model for increasing praise and decreasing disruptive behavior. School Psychology Review, 37, 315–332.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  40. Reinke, W. M., Herman, K. C., & Sprick, R. (2011). Motivational interviewing for effective classroom management: The classroom check-up. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  41. Reinke, W. M., Herman, K. C., Stormont, M., Newcomer, L., & David, K. (2013). Illustrating the multiple facets and levels of fidelity of implementation to a teacher classroom management intervention. Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research, 40, 494–506. doi: 10.1007/s10488-013-0496-2 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. Renk, K., & Phares, V. (2004). Cross-informant ratings of social competence in children and adolescents. Clinical Psychology Review, 24, 239–254. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2004.01.004 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. Rhodes, C., & Beneicke, S. (2002). Coaching, mentoring and peer-networking: Challenges for the management of teacher professional development in schools. Journal of In-Service Education, 28, 297–310. doi: 10.1080/13674580200200184 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Rose, D. J., & Church, R. J. (1998). Learning to teach: The acquisition and maintenance of teaching skills. Journal of Behavioral Education, 8, 5–35. doi: 10.2307/41824208 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Ross, S. W., Romer, N., & Horner, R. H. (2011). Teacher well-being and the implementation of Schoolwide Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions. doi: 10.1177/1098300711413820 Google Scholar
  46. Von Brock, M. B., & Elliott, S. N. (1987). Influence of treatment effectiveness information on the acceptability of classroom interventions. Journal of School Psychology, 25, 131–144. doi: 10.1016/0022-4405(87)90022-7 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Wanless, S. B., Rimm-Kaufman, S. E., Abry, T., Larsen, R. A., & Patton, C. L. (2014). Engagement in training as a mechanism to understanding fidelity of implementation of the Responsive Classroom Approach. Prevention Science, 1–10. doi:  10.1007/s11121-014-0519-6
  48. Wehby, J. H., Maggin, D. M., Moore Partin, T. C., & Robertson, R. (2012). The impact of working alliance, social validity, and teacher burnout on implementation fidelity of the Good Behavior Game. School Mental Health, 4, 22–33. doi: 10.1007/s12310-011-9067-4 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Wright, D., & Torrey, G. K. (2001). A comparison of two peer-referenced assessment techniques with parent and teacher ratings of social skills and problem behaviors. Behavioral Disorders, 26, 173–182. doi: 10.2307/23888766 Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Society for Prevention Research 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Mental HealthJohns Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public HealthBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Department of Human Services, Curry School of EducationUniversity of VirginiaCharlottesvilleUSA

Personalised recommendations