BEST in CLASS-Prekindergarten (2011-2015): A randomized controlled trial was conducted to examine the efficacy of the BEST in CLASS intervention when implemented by teachers in early childhood settings. A total of 186 early childhood teachers/classrooms from the surrounding areas of Gainesville, FL, and Richmond, VA participated across the 4 years of the study. Approximately three children at elevated risk for emotional and behavioral disorders per classroom were selected to participate, for a total of approximately 465 children. Teachers attended a training workshop on the BEST in CLASS practices where they received the BEST in CLASS Teacher manual. In addition, teachers received 14 weeks of ongoing practice-based coaching to support their practice implementation. Coaches observed teachers interacting with focal children in the classroom, facilitated teachers’ self-reflection, provided performance feedback, and collaboratively created goals and action plans. Published results of this study are located under the dissemination tab of this website (see Conroy et al., 2018; Sutherland et al., 2018).
BEST in CLASS-Elementary (2015-2018): A second development and innovation award funded the adaptation of materials and procedures to apply BEST in CLASS in Kindergarten through second grade classrooms. This iteration focused on improving teacher practices to enhance home-school partnerships and support positive behavioral and academic outcomes for student with challenging classroom behavior. We examined the usability, feasibility, and promise of the developed model of intervention over the course of the first two years of development; in the final year we conducted a small randomized controlled trial with 26 teachers and 44 students.
BEST in CLASS-Web (2016-2019): This IES-funded development and innovation project seeks to increase access to the BEST in CLASS practices for early childhood teachers. In rural early care and education settings professional development opportunities related to addressing young children’s social-emotional needs may be limited. The BEST in CLASS-Prekindergarten in-vivo teacher training was adapted into online, individually accessible modules including exemplar videos, examples of the practices, and interactive knowledge checks. Other platforms such as ZoomTM & TorshTM facilitate web-based submission of teacher video-recordings of their use of practices and weekly coaching meetings. Both feasibility and usability studies were completed to further develop and refine materials, procedures and technology supports. In 2018, the project is conducting a small, randomized controlled trial (24 teachers, 48 children) to compare the delivery of BEST in CLASS through traditional workshops and coaching with the web-based delivery system as well as a business-as-usual condition. Teachers from Florida and Virginia are participating in all phases of this research.
BEST in CLASS-Elementary (2018-2022): The purpose of newest award from IES is to attempt to systematically replicate the initial BEST in CLASS study by testing the efficacy of BEST in CLASS-Elementary on student outcomes. Teachers will be recruited for participation in Florida and Virginia if they have children in their classroom who display chronic challenging behavior and are at risk for emotional/behavioral disorders. Researchers will examine the efficacy of BEST in CLASS-Elementary with approximately 192 teachers and 576 students in kindergarten through second grade across the 4 years of the project. The study will partner with 4 schools (2 each in VA and FL) each year for four years (16 in total) with random assignment to the BEST in CLASS-Elementary intervention or to a business-as-usual comparison group occurring within schools. Those assigned to intervention will receive training in BEST in CLASS practices followed by 14 weeks of practice-based coaching.
BEST in CLASS-Elementary: Follow-up (2020-2024): This project examines the sustained use of the BEST in CLASS intervention. Three primary aims will be addressed: (1) Determine if malleable individual (teacher self-efficacy, teacher burnout, teacher attributions), intervention (usability), and organizational (school climate, classroom atmosphere, classroom-level adversity) predict BEST in CLASS intervention fidelity (adherence, competence) and modifications (fidelity-consistent, fidelity-inconsistent) during implementation, sustainment, or both; (2) Assess the impact of intervention fidelity and modifications on child outcomes (challenging behaviors, social skills) during implementation and sustainment; and (3) Explore the mechanisms through which individual, intervention, and organizational factors influence sustainment outcomes.
Effectiveness Replication of BEST in CLASS Intervention for Young Children at High Risk for Delays in Social or Emotional Development. Institute of Education Sciences, Social and Behavioral Context for Academic Learning: This project will conduct a replication trial of BEST in CLASS in early childhood classrooms. BEST in CLASS was developed and initially tested for efficacy by the developers with funding from the Institute of Education Sciences. Findings from this efficacy trial demonstrated positive increases in teachers’ use of effective practices, sense of self-efficacy, and overall classroom quality, as well as reductions in children’s challenging behavior and increases in positive teacher-child interactions and relationships. This project includes early childhood programs in Florida, Virginia, and California.
Maureen A. Conroy, Ph.D. is the co-developer of BEST in CLASS. Dr. Conroy is Co-Director of the Anita Zucker Center of Excellence in Early Childhood Studies and the Anita Zucker Endowed Professor at the University of Florida. [Bio]
Rachel Eubanks the Project Coordinator for BEST in CLASS. Ms. Eubanks is a Research Coordinator in the Anita Zucker Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Studies at the University of Florida
Kevin Sutherland, Ph.D. is co-developer of BEST in CLASS. Dr. Sutherland is a Professor in the Department of Counseling and Special Education at Virginia Commonwealth University. [Bio]
Bryce McLeod, Ph.D. is a co-investigator of BEST in CLASS. Dr. McLeod is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Kristen Granger, Ph.D. is the Project Coordinator for BEST in CLASS and is a research faculty member in the Department of Counseling and Special Education at VCU.