RK-12: Rural Schools Research
RK-12 is our newest and largest project, supported by a four-year grant from the National Institute of Justice at the US Department of Justice. This project involves the development and testing of strategies to improve the implementation of Schoolwide Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports (SWPBIS) in rural Idaho schools. We will be recruiting 40 schools and randomizing them to receive standard SWPBIS training and support, or additional support through the Idaho Rural Implementation Model (I-RIM), which has been designed specifically to meet the needs of rural schools for implementing educational best-practices.
Physically Active Classrooms Energize! (PACE)
The PACE project is in its fourth and final year. With funding from the Institute of Education Sciences, we have been studying the implementation of activity breaks in elementary school classrooms. In collaboration with local schools and teachers, we are learning more about how teachers use brief breaks during the school day to help their students stay on-task and focused on learning. We are interested in learning more about what works well for teachers, and testing out supports to help teachers incorporate these techniques into their school day.
With funding from the USDA, we are examining factors associated with school meal participation, including school breakfast and lunch programs. These programs play a huge role in providing nutritious foods and reducing food insecurity for millions of children and adolescents across the country, but many disparities exist in student participation. We are studying the impact of programs such as summer meals programs, and the Community Eligibility Provision, and the ways in which school nutrition programs relate to academic outcomes such as attendance, test scores, and other key outcomes.
School Wellness Policies and Practices
Lindsey was a co-investigator on Bridging the Gap, which was a large ongoing project funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation until July 2016. The project examined how policies impact children’s health, and Lindsey’s work focused on examining how schools implement local wellness policies (developed at the school district level), as well as state laws and national policies relevant to school health. Research from Bridging the Gap has provided ongoing contributions to the national discussions around revisions to federal school meal standards, and is featured on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s healthy school environments website. This work has been crucial in documenting the widespread improvements in school lunches, which have resulted in healthier meals for millions of elementary school children.
Lindsey was also a co-investigator on a continuation project, the National Wellness Policy Study, which was supported by a cooperative agreement from the USDA. The project was led by Dr. Jamie Chriqui at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and included partners from the the University of Connecticut, and Action for Healthy Kids.
Physical Activity and Academic Achievement
Lindsey and Hannah are co-investigators on a study being conducted in Georgia, with collaborators at Emory University and HealthMPowers. Over the next four years, the project will recruit and randomize 40 elementary schools to receive either basic support or enhanced support in the implementation of increased physical activity opportunities for students. By tracking a cohort of 4th grade students for 2 years, we will be able to examine whether increases in physical activity at school have an impact on academic outcomes.
Promise Partnerships – The Transforming Communities Initiative
We are pleased to be part of this community collaboration, funded by Trinity Health and Saint Alphonsus Health System, and coordinated by the United Way of Treasure Valley. In the Treasure Valley (Boise, Nampa, and Caldwell, ID), the project focuses on collaborative and innovative partnerships to improve the social determinants of health. The partnerships are focusing on policy, systems, and environmental changes to meet the goal of the Transforming Communities Initiative to reduce tobacco use and childhood obesity rates by 2020. Locally, our work focuses on community schools, school wellness, policies to support breastfeeding, active transportation and safe walking/biking, and supporting a state law to increase the age limit for purchasing tobacco from 18 to 21.
Brian’s studies focus on positive youth development, including social-emotional and character development. He is studying the Positive Action program, which impacts a broad array of positive and negative behaviors, as well as academic performance. Brian’s research shows that an early, holistic approach to prevention can significantly reduce problem behaviors many years later.