Prevention Strategies That Work

Behavior Prevention Program


Debra Kamps
Juniper Gardens Children Project
650 Minnesota Avenue, 2nd Floor
University of Kansas-Kansas City
Kansas City, Kansas 66101


The Behavior Prevention Program (grant number: H237F50019) provides multiple setting (home and school) and multimodal (behavior management, social skills, and academic tutoring) prevention strategies. The interventions are designed to increase appropriate behaviors and decrease negative teacher-student, and peer-student interactions. The main intervention consists of three classroom-based elements:

* Academic tutoring. Academic tutoring is the use of peer dyads to engage in oral reading and comprehension practice. Components include pair assignments, peer tutoring sessions 3-4 times per week, oral reading to partner, error correction, comprehension questions, and points for correct tutoring.

* Social skills instruction. Social skills instruction includes the use of published curriculum including classroom survival skills (e.g., following instructions, requesting assistance appropriately), and critical peer social skills (e.g., friendship skills such as joining activities, having appropriate conversations, turn-taking, complimenting, decision making), and replacement behaviors for inappropriate interactions (e.g., anger management, apologizing, negotiating and problem solving).

* Behavior management. Classroom management is defined as positive behavioral supports to improve appropriate student behaviors, accelerate classroom learning, and to decrease inappropriate behaviors. An array of classwide systems may be effective including token systems to reinforce appropriate skills and response cost procedures. Common systems are the "colored card" system (when tied to reinforcement), and class monitoring systems for rule following (e.g., the Good Student Game).

Implementation of the Intervention

Although project staff found that success is maximized when all three components are implemented, individual features may be implemented.

In all cases, costs will include teacher training, consultant costs for training, and staff time for follow-up, feedback, and assessment. Additional cost categories include:

* Tutoring: Manual and classroom posters.

* Social skills: Curriculum for each classroom, class posters for each skill to facilitate instruction and prompting, games for practice sessions, and costs for reinforcement systems. In addition, personnel (e.g., school guidance counselors) will be needed to facilitate classroom training and to provide small group lessons for individualized needs.

* Behavior management: Reinforcement systems typically require budgets for monitoring of behaviors (observers and or instruments such as sports watches with repeated beeps), and rewards including tangibles, and social activities (e.g., free time games, popcorn parties).  

Introducing the Intervention

Significant time must be devoted to training and follow-up for teachers and students. After inviting teachers to participate, administrators will need to plan for the following:

* Tutoring: Teaching the procedure includes training of teachers in a group setting (minimum 2-hour workshop), followed by training of students (2, 45-minute sessions, implementation of the tutoring (30 minutes 3-4 times per week), with ongoing feedback to teachers (procedural checklist) and students (teacher monitoring of tutoring and student assessment).

* Social Skills: Teaching the procedure includes training of teachers in a group setting (minimum 1 and 2-hour workshop), followed by training of students, and implementation of social skills lessons twice per week. Feedback from consultants is very helpful, with assistance in identifying key skills for the group and settings, and setting up individualized student contracts for improving social skills. The project staff found that success was enhanced when staff agreed on the selected social skills program and planned simultaneous lessons across classes each week (with additional individualized skills).

* Behavior Management: Teaching the procedures includes training of teachers in a group setting (minimum 2-hour workshop), followed by training of students, and implementation of the behavioral management approach in the classroom. Feedback from consultants is very helpful.

Supporting Implementation

Once teachers are trained in the intervention, administrators will need to provide support to sustain the intervention. Examples of support follow:

* Time to implement the intervention.

* Follow-up consultation.

Project staff found that a major barrier was limited time to implement the intervention. Problems arose when there were competing priorities and lack of administrative support. Having sufficient planning time and a consultant or behavioral specialist to assist teachers facilitated success.


The project is enhanced by a parent support component. Parents agreed to work with the schools and project staff towards the common goal of improving the child's behavior at home and school. Parent support included:

* Attending parent training sessions.

* Participating in parent-child activities (games, holiday activities) as well as community recreation events.

* Attending school conferences.

* Completing behavior checklists. More serious behaviors are addressed via home-school notes or parent support for student contracts.

Costs for this enhancement include:

* Curriculum manuals (trainer and parent copies are approximately $250, $30).

* Expenses for parents to attend training.

* Consultant fees for a certified trainer.

* Parent gift certificates for their time spent in training classes (equivalent to $10 per hour).

* Parent-child activities.

After school events for parents and children require additional school budgets for materials and agreement from the staff for volunteer time once per month or paid compensation.


The following findings are reported by project staff members:

Tutoring: Current data from the project indicates that school-wide training and implementation can be completed within approximately two months per school. Training for all staff and students (approximately 800 across 4 school sites) was completed in the years one and three of the project.  Procedural checks indicate that trained teachers are reliable in managing peer tutoring sessions. Curriculum-based assessments showed improvements for participants.

Social Skills: Two of the schools use Skillstreaming the Elementary School Child: A Guide for Teaching Prosocial Skills (Mcginnis & Goldstein, 1997) as a school-wide curriculum.  Project data show that the target group (higher percentage of students receiving social skills instruction) had higher levels of positive/neutral peer interactions than the monitoring group with fewer participants in social skills programs.

Behavior Management: Effectiveness has been demonstrated for individual cases in our project with direct observation of increased positive behaviors (academic engagement, in seat behavior, positive student interaction), teacher ratings of improved student behaviors, and reductions in inappropriate behaviors (direct observation of decreases, fewer disruptions, fewer office referrals). Significant differences between the target and control-wait group have been noted for some behaviors but not all.

Parent Support: Effectiveness of parent support programs for the project is currently measured via parent report. Ratings of the project support for training and activities average 4.0 to 4.5 on a scale of 1.0 (not helpful) to 5.0 (very helpful). In addition, parents have increased their participation with schools over time. Our contact has established a supportive relationship with most families, with cumulative contacts including: 323 personal contacts, 712 phone contacts, 928 mailings, and 129 in attendance at meetings for the target group (n=25).

Summary: These findings demonstrated three important issues related to prevention: (a) schools must be committed to providing multi-component prevention programs in high risk buildings such as urban schools with high poverty, (b) students need at least moderate levels of intervention and structure to maintain improved behaviors, there are few cases where short term intervention is a magic cure, (c ) some children may need intensive intervention over long periods of time with community agencies supporting families, and (d) teachers need ongoing support including paraprofessional assistance to maintain children with serious problems in general education settings.

About Project Field Sites

Twelve schools--8 elementary and 4 middle schools--were selected for study. All schools were located in an urban school district primarily serving students from low to middle social-economic status families. Class sizes ranged from approximately 18 to 30 students across general education sites; class sizes for special education classrooms ranged from 4 to 10 students. More than half of the students monitored were African American.

Project Offerings

Project staff train parents and teachers to deliver the intervention. Several articles are available from the project:

  * Babyak, A., Luze, G., & Kamps, D. (In press). The good student game:    Behavior management for diverse classrooms. Intervention in School and Clinic.

  * Kamps, D., Ellis, C., Mancina, C., & Greene, L. (1995). Peer-inclusive social skills groups for young children with behavioral risks Preventing School Failure, 39, 10-15.

  * Kamps, D., Kravits, T., Rausch, J., & Kamps, J. (Unpublished manuscript). The effects of prevention and the moderating effects of variation in strength of treatment and classroom structure on the related behaviors of SED and high-risk students.

  * Kamps, D., Kravits, T., Stolze, J., & Swaggart, B. (In press). Prevention strategies for at-risk and students identified with emotional and behavioral disorders in urban elementary school settings. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders.

  * Kamps, D., & Tankersley, M. (1996). Prevention of behavioral and conduct disorders: Trends and research issues. Behavioral Disorders, 22, 41-48.

For more information about this project, please contact Debra Kamps.

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