Effects on School Outcomes in Low-Income Minority Youth
Preliminary Findings from a Community-Partnered Study of a School-Based Trauma Intervention
Published In: Ethnicity and Disease, v. 21, 3 Suppl. 1, Summer 2011, p. S1-71-77
Posted on RAND.org on June 01, 2011
OBJECTIVE: To examine academic outcomes of a community-partnered school mental health intervention for students exposed to community violence. DESIGN: Randomized controlled trial. SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: Sixth-grade students (N = 123) from 2 middle schools in Los Angeles during the 2001-2002 academic year who had exposure to violence and posttraumatic stress symptoms in the clinical range. INTERVENTION: Students were randomized to either receive a 10-session standardized school trauma intervention (Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools) soon after screening (early intervention) or after a delay following screening (delayed intervention), but within the same school year. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: 59 students in the early intervention group vs. 64 students in the delayed intervention group (screened in September or December) were compared on spring semester grades in math and language arts, controlling for the students' standardized state test scores from the previous academic year and other covariates. RESULTS: Students in the early intervention group had a significantly higher spring semester mean grade in math (2.0 vs 1.6) but not language arts (2.2 vs 1.9). Students in the early intervention group were more likely than students in the delayed intervention group to have a passing grade (C or higher) in language arts (80% vs 61%; P < .033) by spring semester; we also found a substantial difference in the number of students receiving a passing math grade (70% vs 55%; P = .053). CONCLUSION: Through a collaborative partnership between school staff and researchers, preliminary evidence suggests that receiving a school trauma intervention soon after screening compared to delaying treatment can result in better school grades.