The following excerpt delineates findings from an evaluation conducted by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP) on the Foundations for Learning Project. The complete report is available on the WSIPP web site.
The Institute used the survey to test for differences between the project and comparison schools. The Foundations for Learning Project is a three-year staff and curriculum development effort to design a positive school-wide approach for the correction of misbehavior and reinforcement of appropriate behaviors in a supportive and predictable manner.
The Institute was not able to survey students in the comparison schools, so the impact of the project on student-reported behavior could not be assessed. The analysis of the teacher, staff, and administrator surveys, however, reveals several significant differences between the project and comparison schools. For example, as displayed in Exhibit 3, relative to teachers in the comparison schools, teachers in the project elementary schools reported several improvements.
The teacher surveys provide evidence that the Foundations Project, after one year of implementation, is making small positive changes in teacher perception of student disruptive behavior and the impact of these behaviors on teachers. The program seems to increase teacher morale, since teachers in the project schools report less of a decrease in a desire to continue teaching. The first-year results from the administrator and staff surveys, not shown in Exhibit 3, indicate less evidence of positive change.
Foundations Project developers estimate that up to three years may be necessary to fully implement, and thus evaluate, program effectiveness. If any differences between the project and comparison schools are detectable within the first year of implementation, they may be small.
The preliminary evaluation of the Foundations Project is encouraging since the teacher surveys show some positive improvements after the first year of the planned three-year implementation effort. News from the research community is also encouraging. Researchers are having success in finding programs shown to change school environments and student behaviors. Schools can be more confident in implementing a research-based school-wide initiative to develop effective discipline practices and school norms, and then adding programs within that environment to target specific behaviors, such as bullying, or programs that focus on specific at-risk student groups.