A daily check-in and check-out with a behavior coach is an effective intervention for elementary school children with emotional and behavioral problems, says a new study in Preventing School Failure.
The Check, Connect and Expect program (CCE) has been used in 18 urban elementary schools in the Seattle area since 2005. Students and coaches review daily progress reports (DPRs) from teachers before and after school. The DPR card establishes clear student expectations and provides a rubric for the teacher to rate the student’s behavior during the school day. Coaches provide additional social skills instruction and problem solving as needed.
“The card is designed to prompt the teachers to provide students with positively worded feedback about their behavior and specific behavior they need to improve to be successful in the classroom,” the authors write.
In addition to supervising daily progress, the coach serves as a positive role model for students and helps them to acquire new social skills and to self-monitor their behavior.
The program was evaluated in 18 urban schools with diverse populations and found to be effective with more than 84% of students over a 2-year period, the authors write.
Before school every morning, the behavior coach meets with a student for 2-3 minutes to ensure that the student is ready for school and has all school materials. The coach reviews daily goals with the student, gives the student encouragement to meet goals and checks for parent signatures on the previous day’s DPR. The student receives that day’s DPR card at check-in.
At check-out, the coach praises and reinforces students as they meet their goals and talks with them about how they can improve the next day if they have not met their goals.
Rating student behavior
Teachers rate student behavior on a 4-point Likert-type scale at defined periods during the day (after an academic period, during natural breaks in the teaching schedule). Teachers briefly meet with the student about the DPR to discuss classroom and school performance, provide positive feedback when the student meets expectations or redirection when the student has difficulties.
“The CCE is based on 15 years of research and practice from Check and Connect, the Behavior Education Program (BEP), and literature on using daily progress reports (DPRs) to improve social behavior,” the authors write.
“C&C and the BEP rely on positive and caring adults who provide daily interactions and structured supervision with students who have behavioral problems.”
Typically, 70% of students in the intervention improve their social behavior and do not develop emotional and behavioral disabilities, the authors write. The intervention can serve as a targeted Tier 2 intervention under the schoolwide positive behavior support model (SWPBS).
The CCE program differs from other Tier 2 targeted interventions because it requires a full-time coach at a school. Coaches typically work with 20-25 students at a time. The coach is a district-employed paraprofessional who has participated in training to learn how to implement the intervention.
In the Seattle area, coach training includes an initial 2- day summer workshop with follow-up trainings throughout the year. During training, the emphasis is on providing positive and unconditional caring for students with challenging behavior.
“The program mantra is for coaches to encourage students’ daily success, emphasize students’ potential, and become a positive, dependable role model,” the authors write.
In the Seattle CCE program, a behavior specialist assists the coach in decision making and program recommendations and coordinates the program across different schools. The individual typically has a background in special education or school psychology.
For the past 4 years, the first two gates of the Systematic Screening for Behavior Disorders (SSBD) have been used to identify students for the CCE program. In the first two stages, teachers rank their students on internalizing and externalizing behaviors and then complete rating scales on critical events, maladaptive and adaptive behaviors. Teachers identify the 3 highest-ranked students with those behaviors.
The 3 levels of CCE support are: basic, basic plus and self-monitoring. About 10-15% of students need the additional support of basic plus.
Students must earn more than 75% of points daily on their DPRs for more than 80% of the days in an 8-week period to be successful in the basic phase. If the student does not meet those behavior goals, he or she begins the “basic plus” phase which provides increased opportunities for social problem-solving and social-skills instruction.
In basic-plus, coaches use problem-solving and social-skills instruction lessons from The Stop and Think Social Skills Program and offer social problem-solving sessions in 15-minute periods. The Stop and Think Social Skills Program was recently identified as an evidence-based practice in schools by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Agency.
Social-skills instruction in CCE is similar to instruction in many commercial programs in which 1, 2, or 3 students meet the coach and receive explicit instruction on major skills, the authors write. Problem-solving is used when students receive a discipline referral or have a very low score on points earned. The coach reviews the problem, discusses alternative choices to make, identifies good and bad choices and then has the student practice the social skill.
Once students are successful at earning at least 75% of their daily points on average across another 8 weeks in the basic-plus phase, they move back to the basic phase. Students must be successful in the basic phase for another 4 weeks before moving to self-monitoring.
“If a student is unable to make progress in the basic-plus phase, the school team may choose to conduct a functional assessment or take advantage of additional school supports, such as a prereferral program,” the authors write.
In the self-monitoring phase, students continue to receive the same check-in and out procedures as the basic phase but they also rate their own performance on expectations and compare their self-scores with their teacher’s scores. Students are reinforced for both meeting expectations and agreement with their teacher on the DPR rating scores.
CCE is a data-based program: Coaches collect DPR daily and enter teacher ratings on the CCE web site. The data can be easily analyzed to assure that students are meeting their set program goal of 75%.
“The basic program of checking students in and out is consistent with the approaches recommended in the BEP and C&C programs that have been established over the past 15 years,” the authors write.
“The CCE program expands these approaches by employing a trained paraprofessional to support students who need additional social-skills instruction and problem solving in the basic plus phase to improve daily outcomes Use 3 broad categories to define educational outcomes for students who have difficulty meeting classroom social expectations.”
“The Check, Connect, and Expect Program: A Targeted, Tier 2 Intervention in the Schoolwide Positive Behavior Support Model,” by Douglas Cheney et al., Preventing School Failure, 2010, Volume 54, Number 3, pps. 152-158.