Intervention FAQ

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How can you effectively teach SEL skills to an entire classroom of students?

The short answer is use the evidence-based and proven effective SSIS SEL Classwide Intervention Program (CIP).  For a longer and independent answer, consider what the CASEL SEL Program Guide says:

            “The Social Skills Improvement System (SSIS) Classwide Intervention Program is a social skills promotion program that uses free-standing SEL lessons and teaching practices for students in preschool through eighth grade. It is designed to be used by teachers, teacher’s aides, school counselors, or other educational professionals that work closely with students. The curriculum is organized into 10 skill units with a total of 30 lessons per grade band. Lessons are designed to be implemented in the classroom and delivered three times per week over the course of ten weeks. Lessons focus on interpersonal skills, including listening to others, asking for help, and staying calm with others. While SSIS has limited emphasis on the promotion of students’ self-awareness and self-management, when taught in conjunction with the SSIS SEL edition, the program provides learning around all five social-emotional competencies. The SSIS SEL edition is a flexible curriculum that includes 23 units designed for use with students ages 4 to 14. All units are taught using a six-step process that includes teacher modeling and coaching, student role plays, skills practice, self- and teacher-monitoring of student progress, and generalization. Teachers use “Skill Step” cue cards to prompt students to reflect on their SEL skills and to help students generalize what they are learning beyond the lessons and throughout the school day. Resources provided also include a teacher’s guide, video clips that depict positive and negative models of social behavior in school settings, and student booklets.”

            Since CASEL’s review in 2017, we have expanded the Skill Units to 30 and most importantly, created PowerPoints for teachers/psychologist and students for the collection of 90 lessons (3 per Skill Unit). All implementation resources have also been placed online so that the entire program is web-based and all resources fully sustainable.

The SSIS SEL Classwide Intervention Program focuses on only 30 SEL skills. Is this enough skills?

Thirty SEL skills are plenty, especially if they are the most important skills and are applied and practiced in authentic situations. In fact, in any given academic year, it is effective to focus on improving 10 to 12 skills and applying them each to 6 to 8 relevant social situations. Specifically, the SSIS SEL CIP has done considerable research to identify the 30 most important SEL skills as determined by a large, national sample of teachers and parents. These 30 skills are each taught where role-play sessions in the Do and Practice Phases of each lesson features role-plays of social situations. Thus students in the SSIS SEL CIP are learning 30 skills X 8 role-play situations for a total of 240 skill applications. In summary, the SSIS SEL CIP subscribes to the axiom that less can be more!

Given the SSIS Classwide Intervention Program is ungraded, how do you determine the skills 1st and 2nd graders need versus 4th and 5th graders?

We think teachers and leaders of a given school know more than most curriculum experts about the SEL skills their students need at particular grades. Therefore, with the power of sound and sensitive assessments, we encourage teachers and school leaders to let the assessments provide data on students’ strengths and skills areas in need of improvement serve as the guideposts for making decisions about the SEL skills to teach. Of course, the assessment must be content aligned to the intervention program in operation. As documented elsewhere on this website, the SSIS SEL assessments and CIP are fully aligned. Thus, when used in a Universal/Tier 1 support effort, the results of your assessment for 2nd graders will identify the CIP Skill Units that will help the most 2nd graders develop needed skills. The same approach also works for 5th graders, who may need some of the same SEL skill development as 2nd graders, but their social situations where the skill is applied may vary. In summary, we endorse data-based decisions about teaching the SEL skills that students need regardless of their age or grade placement.”

How much time does it take to teach an SEL skill well?

The short answer is in 90 minutes (3 X 25-30 minute lessons in a week) with the SSIS SEL CIP you can focus on and teach an important SEL skills. Of course, some students may need an additional “dose” of instruction to demonstrate and apply a skill at a high level. All students benefit from opportunities to practice a skill that is embedded in other instructional activities such as a mathematics problem-solving group activity where students work with peers. In other words, the SSIS SEL CIP has a direct instructional component of about 90 minutes to establish a skill and an expectation that teachers will indirectly continue to support the practice of skills across other instructional situations. Thus, most students will receive more than 100 minutes of instruction and practice opportunities to use an SEL skill and receive considerable feedback about their skill application.

What training is needed to effectively and efficiently implement the SSIS SEL CIP?

Most users of the SSIS SEL CIP will require 5 to 6 hours (distributed over a week or so) to become proficient in using all the intervention resources and implementing three lessons of a selected Skill Unit. We recommend users read Chapter 4 in the CIP manual first. This chapter is 5 pages long and provides a sequenced list of Preparation Activities, Planning Tasks, and Implementation Steps. Users should also watch the short training video on this website. Then, working with a colleague or two, role-play the implementation of an entire Skill Unit. Teachers report that the role-play experience and going online to access all the various intervention resources is critical to implementing a Skill Unit with integrity. Training does not end once you start implementing additional Skill Units. It is recommended that you use the SSIS SEL Intervention Integrity and Outcomes Evaluation Report to self-monitor your first 3 or 4 entire Skill Lessons.

What research has been done to support claims that the SSIS SEL CIP is effective?

The SSIS CIP, as a result of USDE IES-supported efficacy studies by DiPerna and colleagues (2015, 2016, 2018) is recognized as an evidence-based treatment (EBT) according to What Works Clearinghouse Evidence Standards and CASEL intervention.  Results of the IES project completed by DiPerna (2009–2018) provide strong evidence to support the claim that the SSIS CIP is an evidence-based treatment. Specifically, DiPerna and colleagues initiated a Goal 3 Cluster Randomized Trial of the SSIS CIP Early Elementary version) in primary classrooms. This project tested the efficacy of the across two school districts—one urban and the other rural—and seven elementary schools. Multiple cohorts of students (N = 1,098) and classrooms (N = 96) participated. The student sample was drawn from first and second grade classrooms and was representative of the U.S. student population. Participating classrooms were assigned randomly to treatment (CIP) or business-as-usual control conditions. Results indicated that CIP participation yielded positive changes in students’ prosocial behavior across the primary grades (DiPerna, et al. 2015; 2016; 2018). Second-grade participants demonstrated improvement (small-moderate effects) in their overall social emotional skills as well as in the specific subdomains of communication, cooperation, responsibility, empathy, and social engagement. Tests of interactions indicated that students from classrooms most at-risk due to lower social skills prior to treatment benefitted most from CIP participation. Though effect sizes were slightly smaller, first-graders also demonstrated positive changes in social skills post-CIP, particularly in social engagement, empathy, and assertion. 

Similar to the proximal social behavior outcomes, CIP implementation also yielded positive changes in students’ academic motivation and engagement intermediate outcomes). Effect sizes were small-moderate for students in second grade and slightly smaller in magnitude for first graders. Regarding academic skill (long-term) outcomes, results for second grade indicated that CIP participation indirectly affected early mathematics skills (as measured via STAR-standardized computer-adaptive tests) by increasing students’ academic motivation. Even more promising for the target population, CIP participation yielded significant positive changes in the early literacy skills of students with identified disabilities relative to their peers in business-as-usual classrooms (DiPerna, Lei, Bellinger, & Cheng, 2016). Beyond these student outcomes, teachers found the CIP curriculum to be a time-efficient, appropriate, and acceptable to promote positive student behavior in their classrooms. They also indicated the scripted format of the lessons and aligned supporting materials facilitated implementation.

Is the SSIS SEL CIP recognized by CASEL as a SELect intervention program?

Yes! To see for yourself, visit:

Does the SSIS SEL CIP meet the recommendations for a S.A.F.E. program?

Yes indeed it does and more. That is, the SSIS CIP’s instructional phases of Tell -> Show -> Do -> Practice -> Monitor Progress -> Generalize fully applies the criteria of a Sequenced, Active, Focused, and Explicit intervention, and goes one step further. It is actually, S.A.F.E.R. — where R is for Responsive to students’ needs. This Responsiveness dimension is the twofold result (1) of conducting an assessment prior to implementation of the CIP to determine students’ strengths and relative weaknesses and (2) encouraging teachers to make adjustments/additions to the role-play cards that accompany each Skill Unit so students are practice skills in authentic situations indigenous to their school.

Is the SSIS SEL CIP culturally responsive?

The SSIS SEL CIP is responsive to individual and cultural differences of others. Specifically, the videos and PowerPoint lessons include actors and picture of     individuals from many racial/ethnic groups. In addition, individual differences in people’s perspectives and appearances are examined in several Skill Units. In all cases, differences are presented as positives and aspects to be respected when interacting with others.