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Developing Knowledge about What Works for Make Schools Safe: Implementation and Evaluation of Tools for Life in Jackson Public School District in Mississippi

NCJ Number
Gabriella C. Gonzalez
Date Published
April 2020
15 pages

The purpose of this project was to implement a social and emotional learning (SEL) program in a school district (Jackson, Mississippi) and evaluate its effects on school climate and safety throughout the district.


The SEL program involves training school staff in the use of a classroom toolkit with behavioral lesson plans for children as well as parents and guardians. The Jackson Public School District (JPSD) in Jackson, Mississippi partnered with the Tools for Life Corporation to implement its SEL curriculum in randomly selected elementary and middle schools in the district in the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 school years. The evaluation hypothesized that over the period evaluated, the effects of the training would be improved positive behaviors among students that would be evident in evaluation data. To evaluate the impact of TFL, a cluster-randomized trial was conducted in two stages. Stage 1 examined impacts after one academic year of TFL, and a cluster-randomized trial was conducted in two Stages. Stage II examined trajectories for students’ outcomes from over the course of two academic years using a two-phase multiple baseline design, which is a within-person repeated-measures that can be used to appraise the extent to which intervention alters growth trajectories. Methods for obtaining data for the evaluation are described. One of the key findings is that TFL had little impact on students’ social and emotional learning, behavior. Another key finding is that key stakeholders reported positive and negative views about TFL implementation. The evaluation also found that implementation of TFL was uneven across schools and, in many cases, reportedly shallow. Limitations in the evaluation design and implementation are reported.