WINGS for Kids© is a structured, after-school, SEL program operating within low-performing schools serving high-risk neighborhoods in the southeastern United States. Operating three hours per day, five days per week throughout the school year, WINGS has a high-dosage model.
Methods: The present randomized control trial studied evaluated the efficacy of WINGS by following three cohorts of children (n = 354) from the start of kindergarten through the end of first grade. Data collection on children’s outcomes included teacher- and parent-reports and direct child assessments. The WINGS theory of change predicted that WINGS would improve SEL skills (immediate outcomes) and, in turn, improve relationships and behaviors in-school and at-home (intermediate outcomes) and improve academic outcomes (distal outcomes).
Results: Intent-to-treat analyses detected few significant impacts of WINGS across the three-cohort sample, likely due to severely low program compliance in the third cohort. In the first two cohorts, there were positive, significant effects on self-awareness (β = .30, p < .05) and positive, but only marginally significant, effects on three of the four other SEL skills targeted (β = .23-.26, p < .10). There were also desirable, significant effects on multiple teacher-reported and child-assessed self-regulatory and language-related outcomes (β = .26-.35, p < .05) and marginally significant effects for teacher-child relationships. No clear pattern of impacts was observed for parent-reported outcomes.
Conclusions: Research-designed, after-school programs targeting social and emotional competence can have moderate effects on SEL skills and school-related outcomes. Even in this high-dosage program, compliance to treatment was limited by high levels of instability and stress among participating families and turbulence in the school district. That no effects were observed on parent-reported measures may suggest children’s newly learned skills and behaviors were more easily transferred to the classroom environment than to home.