Implementation costs are modest: staff time for the training sessions, $130 per school for the questionnaire and computer program, $60 per teacher for classroom materials, plus the cost of a part-time or full-time coordinator.

Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies

The curriculum of Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies (PATHS) was designed to promote the development of essential skills in positive peer relations, problem solving, and emotional awareness. The curriculum (Kusché and Greenberg, 1994) is for use by elementary school teachers from kindergarten through grade five. PATHS provides preventive interventions as part of the regular year-long curriculum. It is focused on a classroom setting, but there is information and activities for use with parents as well.

The goal of the program is to prevent or reduce behavioral and emotional problems by instructing students three times a week (20-30 minutes) with systematic, developmentally appropriate lessons that teach emotional awareness, self-control, social competence, positive peer relations, and problem-solving skills. Lessons include instruction in labeling and identifying feelings, managing feelings and their intensity, understanding the difference between feelings and behaviors, and controlling impulses. The children are taught to understand the perspective of others, use steps for problem solving and decision making, self-awareness, and communication skills. In order to accomplish this, teachers receive training in a two- to three-day workshop and in biweekly meetings with the curriculum consultant.

The program includes 131 lessons to be taught over a period of 5 years. Each lesson, however, may require multiple sessions. An evaluation of one version of PATHS that includes a longitudinal study compared schools with the program to schools without. In the PATHS schools they found:

  • lower peer aggression scores based on peer ratings (sociometrics),

  • lower teacher ratings of disruptive behavior (teacher report), and

  • improved classroom atmosphere (assessed by independent observers).

Program costs range from $15 per student/per year to $45 per student/per year, depending on whether current staff was redeployed or a new on-site coordinator was hired. Costs are based on a three-year proposal.

maintain acceptable school behavior with the support of the regular school discipline system and this program. The second group consists of 7 to 10 percent of the student population considered at risk for discipline problems. More targeted interventions, such as anger management, are recommended for this group to maintain acceptable behavior. The third group, representing about 3 to 5 percent of the student population, will then require more individualized programs; analysis of discipline referrals for 16 elementary and 15 middle school discipline referrals indicated that students in this group account for 40 to 59 percent of all school discipline referrals. Given the behavioral issues for this group of students, early identification and intervention may help prevent academic failure and increased problem behavior.

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