Recent research initiatives have suggested that the number of children experiencing behavioral difficulties in school settings has increased (U.S. Department of Education, 2007), and research with Head Start populations suggests that between 16% and 30% of children exhibit ongoing conduct problems for teachers (Kupersmidt, Bryant, &Willoughby, 2000). Children with problematic behaviors are at high risk for academic problems and failure, school absences, teacher conflict, expulsion, and eventually school drop-out, delinquency, substance abuse, and violence (e.g., Broidy et al., 2003). Although researchers have long considered intelligence to be a key predictor of school performance, recent evidence suggests that social, emotional, and behavioral competencies are independent and important predictors of achievement (Webster- Stratton, Reid, &Stoolmiller, 2008). To ensure children's competencies across these interconnected domains, efforts must begin early, ideally within the preschool years (Mashburn &Pianta, 2006). The purpose of the proposed study is to evaluate the effectiveness of a short-term, manualized teacher training intervention designed to improve social, emotional, and behavioral competence of Head Start children, and increase teacher-efficacy and job satisfaction. The Teacher-Child Interaction Training Preschool Program (TCIT-PRE) Program is an adaptation of the empirically-supported Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) for use with teachers. This particular study will help address the current gaps in the teacher training literature by: (a) utilizing a control condition to determine he effectiveness of the program in improving social, emotional, and behavioral competence in children and efficacy/satisfaction for teachers;(b) utilizing multi- method, multi-symptom, and multi-informant assessment (including three separate observational measures) to evaluate teacher and child behaviors, as well as the overall classroom setting;(c) collecting data in a longitudinal manner to evaluate the maintenance of treatment gains;and (d) evaluating generalization of behavioral changes from the classroom environment to the home. For the proposed study, 12 Lead Teachers, 12 Assistant Teachers, and approximately 220 children (and their caregivers) will be recruited from six Head Start Centers. The proposed study will utilize a roll-out type experimental design in which Head Start classrooms will be randomly assigned to either immediate or delayed TCIT-PRE intervention. Outcomes are at two levels--the student level (behavioral outcomes) and teacher level (satisfaction outcomes). This research will provide important information to Head Start researchers, practitioners, and policy makers on the efficacy of a widely applicable and easily disseminated teacher training program in reducing a broad spectrum of social and behavioral problems that could negatively impact preschoolers'acquisition of important skills relevant to future school readiness and adjustment.

Public Health Relevance

The Teacher-Child Interaction Training Preschool Program (TCIT-PRE) was created to provide Head Start teachers with effective strategies/skills to better understand and address challenging classroom issues, thereby promoting the social, emotional, and behavioral development of Head Start children. Further, since critical shortages of teachers available to work with young children with social, emotional, and behavioral problems exists (Klein &Gilkerson, 2000), understanding the impact of TCIT-PRE on Head Start teachers'perceptions of efficacy and satisfaction will have practical utility for Head Start management striving to retain highly qualified educators. Moreover, findings from this study will have widespread research, practice, and policy implications for Head Start administration (and the early childhood scientific community) regarding the efficacy of a widely applicable and easily disseminated intervention in reducing a broad spectrum of problems in early childhood environments.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Postdoctoral Individual National Research Service Award (F32)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1)
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Griffin, James
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University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center
Schools of Medicine
Oklahoma City
United States
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