Early Adolescents’ Experiences of Continuity and Discontinuity of School Micro-contexts: Implications for Place-Based Treatment Effects

What role do the social climates of classrooms and non-instructional settings (e.g., lunchrooms, playgrounds, and hallways) play in predicting youth risk behaviors and outcomes?

The Institute of Educational Sciences (IES), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Foundation previously supported an intervention study of a school-wide, classroom-based social-emotional learning and literacy curriculum involving 18 urban public elementary schools. Nine of the schools were randomly assigned to receive the intervention and a sample of 3rd grade children were assessed six times between 3rd and 5th grades, with evidence of positive developmental outcomes. Building on the trial’s success, Brown, Jones, and LaRusso identified social climates in classrooms and non-instructional settings that enhanced or impeded these positive outcomes. Now, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) is supporting a follow-up study of these youth as they transition to middle schools and the Foundation is funding an add-on study that will allow the researchers to examine the nature, continuity, and effects of these social climates in middle school. Using surveys, interviews, focus groups, and observations, the researchers will explore whether youth experience social climates similarly in elementary and middle school, and whether or not the quality of middle school social climates impacts whether positive outcomes of the elementary school intervention are sustained.