The Importance of Implementation Quality in the Classroom
Although most research on the PATHS® curriculum has been conducted using randomized trial designs in which university researchers have managed training and ongoing consultation, recent studies have also examined the effects of the PATHS® curriculum where implementation was administered under local conditions. We have repeated shown that high quality of implementation of the PATHS® curriculum is directly related to good outcomes (Greenberg & Kusche ,2003: Kusche & Greenberg, 2012).
The Important Role of the Principal or Head Teacher
Kam and colleagues (Kam, Greenberg, & Walls, 2003) conducted an “effectiveness” study of a local dissemination of the PATHS® curriculum in inner-city public schools with low academic performance and high poverty (90% of children received free and reduced lunch). The findings demonstrated complex nature of implementation quality. Both school-level principal support and the quality of teacher implementation at the classroom level were critical factors in determining program success. In classrooms where teachers implemented with high quality and where the principal showed strong support for the PATHS® model there were significant decreases in aggression within the first four months. However, significant intervention effects were only found in those settings where both principal support and teacher implementation were positive. These results underscore the need to study the complex and multiple facets of the implementation process, including dosage, quality of delivery, and commitment and support of institutional leadership.
The Importance of Creating a PATHS® Culture in Schools
Although whole-school implementation usually begins at the classroom level, it is important to provide awareness and training to all adults in the school, including specialized teachers and assistants, office and administrative staff, food service, health, transportation, and security staff. For full implementation to occur, it is necessary for all adults to “be on board” and use PATHS® model language and skills throughout the school day. In addition, we strongly recommend that teachers send home regular parent information (supplied in the curriculum) and home activities. Finally, it is important for the school to feature the PATHS® model and open houses and other parent evening activities.