The effectiveness of SEL interventions is dependent on how well they are implemented (O’Donnell, 2008). In meta-analyses of SEL programs, intervention effects are moderated by implementation quality (Barnes, Smith, & Miller, 2014; Durlak & Dupree, 2008; Durlak et al., 2011; Wilson & Lipsey, 2007). In community settings, however, interventions are often implemented poorly.
Most of the previous research on predictors of implementation tend to only examine at either the individual or building level. The purpose of the current study was to examine both individual teacher and school level variables simultaneously in an HLM model to determine which factors account for the most variation in PATHS implementation.
Teachers (K-2) from 28 elementary schools implemented PATHS for two consecutive years. Fidelity of implementation was assessed with teacher self-report ratings over repeated time points. Analyses examined overall level of implementation and change over time for dosage and quality of delivery using three level Hierarchical Linear Models that included time at level 1, baseline teacher variables at level 2, and baseline school variables rated by staff at level 3. There was a decrease in the two dosage variables over time but no significant change in self-assessed quality of implementation.
The findings suggest that both individual and school-level factors play a role in how much dosage is reported by teachers and their perceived overall quality of implementation. Teachers from schools with stronger innovation capacity and teachers with more positive attitudes toward the program reported more frequent PATHS lesson delivery at the intercept (winter Year 1). Teachers from schools with positive culture for SEL and teachers who perceived their schools as more positive in terms of SEL culture reported more frequent delivery of supplemental components. However, schools’ innovation capacity was negatively associated with frequency of supplemental component delivery at the intercept. Teachers from schools with more positive culture for SEL tended to rate the quality of their PATHS implementation more positively than teachers from schools lacking positive SEL culture. Early career teachers reported lower implementation quality at the beginning but improved faster over time than more experienced teachers.