This article reports on the use and findings of the Wisconsin Bullying Prevention Program Assessment Tool in measuring the implementation and impact of a comprehensive bullying prevention program in the state's middle schools.
The Wisconsin School Violence and Bullying Prevention Study, funded by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), was a 2-year case-control study in 24 Wisconsin middle schools (11 experimental; 13 control) seeking to understand the impact of a comprehensive bullying prevention program on bullying victimization rates. Participating schools' bullying prevention programs were assessed at baseline and project-end using the Wisconsin Bullying Prevention Program Assessment Tool (BPPAT). This self-assessment tool was developed by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) prior to the start of the research project. The BPPAT is an open-source 42-item assessment tool that focuses on nine topic areas related to cost-effective policies and procedures related to program implementation. By design, it acknowledges wide variance across schools and districts for current practices and provides guidance for program improvement. In this study, experimental schools were instructed to use the technical assistance provided in improving their programs by filling gaps identified through their completion of the BPPAT over two school years. A significant improvement resulted among all schools, experimental and control, between 2015 and 2017 with a spill-over effect due to data collection requirements for reducing programmatic differences between groups. Experimental schools reported significant declines in verified incidents of bullying, with a non-significant decline among control schools. From this project, researchers determined that (1) schools are able to make program improvements in a short time period and (2) this concerted and largely non-prescriptive effort can have a positive and measurable impact on bullying victimization for this age group. Broader implications for the BPPAT and its use are preliminary. Next steps are discussed and recommendations are offered. 3 tables, 1 figure, and 22 references (publisher abstract modified)