A Study of the Longitudinal Influence of a Behavioral Support Program
Pluska, Lisa A.
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Students need to be engaged in learning in order to have a successful school career. If attendance and discipline become an issue, instruction tends to be relegated to lesser importance. In order for students to be a contributor to society, education is important. As schools are held more accountable, the results of this study could encourage better practices to hold students more accountable. The Students Taking Appropriate Responsibility (STAR) Program was implemented in 2004 in one school in a school division in southwestern Virginia to address problems in student behavior. The other three elementary schools did not implement this program. The program is a four year series of sequential activities designed to provide positive behavior supports to all students. This program uses tenets of positive behavioral supports and effective school wide discipline programs. The first students who enrolled in 2004 had four years of instruction in the program and graduated from high school in 2013. Therefore, a study was undertaken to compare the behavior of the students in the treatment school with students in a control population. The purpose of this study was to track data at a student level and compare one treated population with a random sample from three control populations who attended the same high school. All schools were located in a rural county in Virginia with similar demographics. The main research question was whether high school students who had received instruction in a program for four years show more self-regulation on selected measures of student behavior than students who had not received such instruction. The variables used were attendance, discipline incidents, and drop-out status. Research on positive behavior supports demonstrated the effectiveness in the short term. However, there were no longitudinal studies found that tracked positive behavior support programs by student. The expectation of this study was that students would take the information learned from the program and continue to use the knowledge to make better choices about school. Students should have been more willing to attend school, avoid behaviors that result in discipline referrals, and stay in school until graduation. Using independent samples t-tests, data were analyzed using the entire treatment population and a randomly selected control population. The results of the study showed a significant difference in attendance for twelfth graders. Those students that had been instructed in the STAR program missed significantly fewer days than those students that had not been instructed. Overall, the ninth and eleventh graders in the treatment population had fewer missed days and ninth graders had fewer disciplinary incidents. Tenth grade students did not show the expected results, nor did any of the drop-out status statistics. All results other than twelfth grade were not significant. Overall, the program could be useful for helping with attendance in future grades. More research would be needed before this study could be generalized. Other possible research venues would be to increase the grade levels or the variables studied.
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