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FAU Awarded Institute of Education Sciences Grant to Improve Student Achievement and Behavior Outcomes in K-12 Classrooms

BOCA RATON, FL (June 21, 2011) – Researchers in the department of counselor education within Florida Atlantic University’s College of Education were recently awarded a $2.7 million grant from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) to fully fund a four-year project titled “A Randomized Controlled Trial of Student Success Skills: A Program to Improve Academic Achievement for All Students.”

The grant will provide funding to rigorously evaluate the Student Success Skills (SSS) K-12 classroom program when facilitated by school counselors. The SSS program is designed to teach students fundamental learning, social and self-management skills to improve student achievement and behavior outcomes.

“With student achievement as the focus of today’s educational reform, this project is extremely timely and pertinent,” said Valerie Bristor, Ph.D., dean of the College of Education at FAU. “An exciting piece of this project is that the researchers will be examining the impact of social and self-management skills, in addition to learning skills and strategies on academic and social success.”

Linda Webb, Ph.D., associate professor in the department of counselor education at FAU, will serve as the principal investigator for the project and will coordinate, oversee and participate in all aspects of the project. Co-principal investigator, Greg Brigman, Ph.D., professor and coordinator of the school counseling program at FAU, will also oversee and participate in all aspects of the project. Webb and Brigman co-developed the SSS program and will train teachers and school counselors to implement the program. Elizabeth Villares, Ph.D., associate professor at FAU and also a co-principal investigator for the project, will develop electronic tools to be used during the study to monitor implementation fidelity and oversee all aspects of the project related to technology.

John Carey, Ph.D., professor of school counseling and director of the Center for School Counseling Outcome Research (CSCORE) at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst also will serve as a co-principal investigator for the project and will supervise operations at UMass. The School District of Palm Beach County and Duval County Public Schools have committed to be the school-based research partners for this project.

Of particular interest is the impact of the SSS program at the level to which students are cognitively engaged in daily classroom activities. Also of importance is their use of skills and strategies that have been associated with students who are academically and socially successful. Researchers will evaluate outcomes related to standardized test scores (FCAT), grades and school attendance. The evaluation of programs to improve academic and social outcomes for students is central to the mission of IES to determine which interventions are most effective and confirm best practices in the field of education.

The SSS program is based on a strong body of theoretical and empirical research and uses developmentally appropriate student lessons, activities and teaching strategies. The program has been widely used in elementary, middle and high schools across the country for the past seven years, and the program’s developers have to-date trained approximately 9,000 school counselors and teachers in 15 states. In addition, international school counselors working in American Schools in approximately 13 Central and South America countries have received SSS program training.

The mission of IES, the research arm of the U.S. Department of Education, is to provide rigorous and relevant evidence on which to ground education practice and policy and to share this information broadly. IES has helped raise the bar for all education research and evaluation by conducting peer-reviewed scientific studies, demanding high standards, and supporting and training researchers across the country. IES funds top educational researchers nationwide to conduct studies that seek answers on “what works for students” from preschools to postsecondary. Since its creation by the Education Sciences Reform Act of 2002, IES has transformed the quality and rigor of education research within the Department of Education and increased the demand for scientifically based evidence of effectiveness in the education field as a whole.


Florida Atlantic University, established in 1961, officially opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. In commemoration of its origin, FAU is celebrating its 50th anniversary throughout 2011. Today, the University serves more than 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students on seven campuses and sites. FAU’s world-class teaching and research faculty serves students through 10 colleges: the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts & Letters, the College of Business, the College for Design and Social Inquiry, the College of Education, the College of Engineering & Computer Science, the Graduate College, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. FAU is ranked as a High Research Activity institution by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. For more information, visit

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