Evaluation of a social skills program for early elementary students: We Have Skills

Evaluation of a social skills program for early elementary students: We Have Skills

By Alexandera Zhang, Johns Hopkins University

A study from Smolkowski et al. (2022), published in January 2022 reported on an evaluation of We Have Skills and its impact on both students and teachers. We Have Skills (WHS) is a short, universal curriculum that focuses on improving early elementary students’ academic and social skills, in the meantime increasing teacher classroom management effectiveness.

From 2015 to 2019, 127 early elementary teachers and their 2,817 students from multiple states were randomly assigned to either an immediate-intervention condition or a no-additional-intervention condition. Teachers assigned to the intervention condition received the WHS curriculum as a package, which included videos, skill tickets, a detailed 166-page teacher’s guide, access to the Elementary Social Behavior Assessment (an online screening system), and a brief initial training. Teachers assigned to the control condition were asked to teach students as they normally would.

The results showed that observer impressions of student behavior were positive but not significant, with an effect size of +0.28. Observers reported a significantly higher rate of descriptive praise among intervention teachers than controls, effect size of +0.56. Intervention teachers also reported improved self-efficacy for behavior management, ES = +0.36, and fewer concerns about student behavior, ES = −0.30.  The study also conducted a cost analysis, reporting an average cost of $44 per student per year.

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