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A Randomized Impact Evaluation of Capturing Kids Hearts

Award Information

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

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2015, $3,469,720)

The proposed study investigates the impacts of the Capturing Kids' Hearts (CKH) program on school safety, students' connectedness to school, bonds with teachers and peers, and social competencies. Recent data on school crime and safety indicate that while the incidence of theft and violence victimization in schools decreased from 1992 to 2010, the victimization rate increased between 2010 and 2012 (Robers et al., Kemp, Rathbun, & Morgan, 2014). The rate of violent incidents is almost twice as high in middle schools than in high schools (NCES, 2011 ). Disruptive aggressive behaviors such as bullying and violence create a hostile school environment that interferes with the academic performance and mental health of
students who are victims or witnesses. The CKH model is a promising, widely-used, school-level intervention designed to impact student behavior by enhancing school climate through improved relational and conflict
management skills. CKH trains school staff to model and teach relational and problem-solving skills, communicative competencies, and teach consequential thinking. Although preliminary evidence or program effectiveness is promising, a rigorous evaluation is needed to understand CKH's impact on school safety.
Subjects. The study will be conducted in 24 middle schools served by four school districts in South Carolina.
Approximately 18,000 grade 6-8 students will participate in the study. The student population is largely minority, with 36% White, 52% African-American, and 6% Latino. Approximately 55% of students are eligible for free/reduced-price meals.
Partnerships. To conduct the study, WestEd has partnered with the South Carolina Department of Public Instruction and the districts of Georgetown, Greenville, Richland 01, and Richland 02.
Research Design, Methods, and Analyses. The study utilizes a cluster randomized experimental design, whereby 24 middle schools are randomly assigned to an experimental group and a wait-listed control group.
Key student outcomes include measures of (a) violence perpetration and victimization, (b) relationship bonds between and among students and teachers, and (c) social competencies. Self-report survey data will be
collected in the spring (staff data) and fall (student data) prior to implementation of CKH and in the spring of the first and second implementation years. The primary hypothesis-testing analyses will involve fitting mixed effects ANCOVA models (HLM or multilevel models).
Products, Reports, and Data Archiving. Anticipated products include publications in journals and presentations targeting academic audiences, and dissemination to practitioners and policy makers through WestEd's national centers. Interim/final reports will be completed, and data will be archived for public dissemination.
This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law.

Date Created: September 30, 2015