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A Randomized Impact Evaluation of Capturing Kids’ Hearts

NCJ Number
Thomas Hanson; Gary Zhang; Anthony Petrosino; Barbara Dietsch; Sarah Guckenberg; Rebeca Cerna; Cindy Zheng; Jeff Polik
Date Published
26 pages

This report presents the findings of a randomized controlled trial of a violence prevention and school climate improvement program named Capturing Kids’ Hearts Campus by Design (CKH).



CKH is a skill-intensive, systematic process intended to strengthen students’ connectedness to school by improving protective factors (strong bonds with teachers, clear rules of conduct that are consistently enforced) and targeting modifiable risk factors, such as inappropriate behavior and poor social coping skills. Components of CKH have been widely used throughout the United States; however, the whole package of CKH training and service has not been rigorously evaluated to assess its effectiveness.  In filling this research gap, the current evaluation used a true, cluster-randomized, experimental design with repeated measures involving 27 middle schools in the treatment group, 12 schools in the control group, and about 607 students in grades 6-8 (27 schools and 16,385 students). The student population was largely minority, with 45 percent white, 43 percent African American, and 8 percent Latino. Data collection began with the administration of an online survey to all school staff in the spring of 2016 to assess baseline measures of school climate. Control schools received training after data collection was complete (July 2018). There were data collection systems for outcomes, which included disciplinary referrals and an online survey data system. There was also incident tracking and an online survey system. Adjusted post-intervention outcomes for students in treatment schools were compared to the outcomes for their counterparts in the control schools. The evaluation determined that CKH was well-implemented, and the impact evaluation results were mixed. CKH apparently had a small but consistently positive impact on various aspects of school relations, student voice/disciplinary climate, and student behaviors, both individually and schoolwide. The evidence was mixed regarding student attendance and discipline outcomes. 10 tables and 32 references