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Developing Knowledge About What Works to Make Schools Safe: Implementation and Evaluation of Tools for Life in Jackson Public School District in MI

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2015, $4,988,217)

This proposal outlines a Project to implement Tools for Life: Relationship-building Solutions® (hereafter referred to as TFL), a classroom- and home-based program for children age 3 through grade 8 designed to improve school climate and safety through the proactive development of students’ interpersonal skills (relationship-building and communication) and intrapersonal skills (self-regulation, resiliency). The RAND Corporation is partnering with Jackson Public School District (JPSD) to implement TFL in randomly selected elementary and middle schools in the district (grades K-8), evaluate the fidelity of implementation of TFL, evaluate its cost-effectiveness, and assess the program’s impact on school climate and safety.

TFL consists of a toolkit for teachers, which includes supporting materials to send home for students’ parents/guardians and a classroom library of fiction and non-fiction texts used in each TFL lesson, and a toolkit for home (HomeSTART®), which incorporates the same lessons materials as the classroom toolkit. Each grade level has between 8-10 lessons, which focus on a specific skill and use inquiry-based learning3 and pedagogical approaches [63-66] that accommodate multiple ways of learning [67]. Each lesson is age- and grade-appropriate, and supports literacy and language development by incorporating reading literature, writing exercises, and hands-on activities. In addition to conveying specific skills to students, TFL aims to build a school-wide sense of community and to strengthen students’ connection with the school by training staff on how to model caring and respectful behavior and the use of positive behavioral practices. Furthermore, parent/ guardians are notified by letter each time their child is taught a different skill along with discussion questions to spark discussions at home. Each school’s library will have 10 HomeSTART® kits that parent/guardians can borrow.

The proposed Project will occur over three years: January 2016 through December 2018.
All 52 elementary and middle schools in JPSD have agreed to participate in the Project and to be randomly assigned to either the treatment group (which receives TFL) or control group (which does not receive TFL) in 2016-17 (See Appendix K for letters of support from principals of all study schools). In 2017-18, all 52 elementary and middle schools in JPSD will implement TFL.

This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law.


Date Created: September 30, 2015