Responsive Classroom Efficacy Study

Rimm-Kaufman, S. E., Larsen, R. A. A., Baroody, A.E., Curby, T.W., Ko, M., Thomas, J.B., Meritt, E.G., Abry, T., & DeCoster, J. (2014). Efficacy of the Responsive Classroom Approach: Results from a 3-Year, Longitudinal Randomized Controlled Trial. American Educational Research Journal, 51(3), 567-603. doi: 10.3102/0002831214523821

Results from a large, rigorous, three year study of the Responsive Classroom® approach were published in the American Educational Research Journal in March, 2014. The research examined the efficacy of the RC approach from 2008-2011. Twenty four schools were randomly assigned into intervention or comparison conditions. The research team studied over 2000 students and their teachers from the end of second grade to the end of fifth grade to examine the influence of exposure to the RC Approach on math and reading achievement. The team conducted careful measurement of actual use of RC practices. Findings showed that exposure to RC practices produced 11-12%-ile gains in student math and reading achievement over three years. Gains were comparable for those students eligible and not eligible for free lunch. Gains were larger for students who were in the lowest quartile (below 25%-ile) in math achievement in second grade. An important nuance requires attention. Simply receiving training in the RC approach did not produce increases (or decreases) in student achievement. Achievement gains were only evident when teachers adopted the RC practices and used them regularly in the classroom. Focus groups with teachers revealed experiences that were important to teachers in helping them fully utilize RC practices. Principal support for use of RC practices and efforts by school leadership to create a psychologically-safe environment allowed teachers to take the risk of learning and using RC practices.

Walkowiak, T. A., Berry III, R. Q., Meyer, J. P., Rimm-Kaufman, S. E., & Ottmar, E. R. (2013). Introducing an observational measure of standards-based mathematics teaching practices: Evidence of validity and score reliability. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 85, 109-128. doi: 10.1007/s10649-013-9499-x

The purpose of this study is to introduce a measure of standards-based mathematics teaching practices, the Mathematics Scan (M-Scan), and to examine its validity and score reliability. First, we define standards-based mathematics teaching practices based on eight dimensions that have emerged in recent conceptualizations by researchers and in the context of existing observational measures. Second, we present three sources of validity evidence: content review by experts, analysis of response processes of coders, and convergent and discriminant patterns with existing observational measures. Third, we provide evidence of inter-coder (or inter-rater) reliability through analyses of variance components and calculation of reliability coefficients, using the framework of generalizability theory. Results show the M-Scan holds promise as a useful tool in mathematics education research, measuring indicators of standards-based teaching practices unique to the subject of mathematics.

Abry, T., Rimm-Kaufman, S.E., Larsen, R. A., & Brewer, A. J. (2013). The influence of fidelity of implementation on teacher-student interaction quality in the context of a randomized controlled trial of the Responsive Classroom approach. Journal of School Psychology 51(4): 437-453. Retrieved from:

This study examined the direct and indirect effects between training in the Responsive Classroom ® (RC) approach, teachers’ uptake of RC practices, and teacher-student interaction quality, using a structural equation modeling framework. A total of 24 schools were randomly assigned to experimental or control conditions. Third- and fourth-grade teachers in treatment schools (n=132) received training in the RC approach, whereas teachers in control schools (n=107) continued “business as usual.” Observers rated teachers’ fidelity of implementation (FOI) of RC practices 5 times throughout the year using the Classroom Practices Observation Measure. In addition, teachers completed self-report measures of FOI, the Classroom Practices Teacher Survey and Classroom Practices Frequency Survey, at the end of the school year. Teacher-student interactions were rated during classroom observations using the Classroom Assessment Scoring System. Controlling for teachers’ grade level and teacher-student interaction quality at pretest, RC training was expected to predict posttest teacher-student interaction quality directly and indirectly through FOI. Results supported only a significant indirect effect, β=0.85, p=.002. Specifically, RC teachers had higher levels of FOI of RC practices, β=1.62, p<.001, R2=.69. In turn, FOI related to greater improvement in teacher-student interaction quality, β=0.52, p=.001, R2=.32. Discussion highlights factors contributing to variability in FOI and school administrators roles in supporting FOI. VIEW DETAILS

Curby, T.W., Rimm-Kaufman, S.E., & Abry, T. (2013) Do emotional support and classroom organization earlier in the year set the stage for higher quality instruction? Journal of School Psychology 51(5): 557-569. Retrieved from:

Many teachers believe that providing greater emotional and organizational supports in the beginning of the year strengthens their ability to teach effectively as the year progresses. Some interventions, such as the Responsive Classroom (RC) approach, explicitly embed this sequence into professional development efforts. We tested the hypothesis that earlier emotional and organizational supports set the stage for improved instruction later in the year in a sample of third- and fourth-grade teachers enrolled in a randomized controlled trial of the RC approach. Further, we examined the extent to which the model generalized for teachers using varying levels of RC practices as well as whether or not teachers were in the intervention or control groups. Teachers’ emotional, organizational, and instructional interactions were observed using the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (Pianta, La Paro, & Hamre, 2008) on five occasions throughout the year. Results indicated a reciprocal relation between emotional and instructional supports. Specifically, higher levels of emotional support earlier in the year predicted higher instructional support later in the year. Also, higher levels of instructional support earlier in the year predicted higher emotional support later in the year. Classroom organization was not found to have longitudinal associations with the other domains across a year. This pattern was robust when controlling for the use of RC practices as well as across intervention and control groups. Further, teachers’ use of RC practices predicted higher emotional support and classroom organization throughout the year, suggesting the malleability of this teacher characteristic. Discussion highlights the connection between teachers’ emotional and instructional supports and how the use of RC practices improves teachers’ emotionally supportive interactions with students. VIEW DETAILS

Ottmar, E.R., Rimm-Kaufman, S.E., Berry, R.Q., & Larsen R.A. (2013). The Responsive Classroom Approach Increases the Use of Standards-Based Mathematics Teaching Practices.

This study highlights the connections between two facets of teachers’ skills—those supporting teachers’ mathematical instructional interactions and those underlying social interactions within the classroom. The impact of the Responsive Classroom (RC) approach and use of RC practices on the use of standards-based mathematics teaching practices was investigated in third-grade classrooms. Eighty-eight third-grade teachers from 24 elementary schools in a large suburban district were selected from a sample of teachers participating in a larger randomized-control study. Results showed that teachers at schools assigned randomly to receive training in the RC approach showed higher use of standards-based mathematics teaching practices than teachers in control schools. These findings were supported by analyses using fidelity of implementation: greater adherence to the intervention predicted the use of more standards-based mathematics teaching practices. Findings support the use of the RC approach for creating classroom social environments that facilitate standards-based mathematical practices.  VIEW DETAILS

Wanless, S.B., Patton, C.S., Rimm-Kaufman, S.E., Deutsch, N.L. (2013). Setting-level influences on implementation of the Responsive Classroom approach. Prevention Science 14(1):40-51.

We used mixed methods to examine the association between setting-level factors and observed implementation of a social and emotional learning intervention (Responsive Classroom approach; RC). In study 1 (N = 33 3rd grade teachers after the first year of RC implementation), we identified relevant setting-level factors and uncovered the mechanisms through which they related to implementation. In study 2 (N = 50 4th grade teachers after the second year of RC implementation), we validated our most salient Study 1 finding across multiple informants. Findings suggested that teachers perceived setting-level factors, particularly principal buy-in to the intervention and individualized coaching, as influential to their degree of implementation. Further, we found that intervention coaches’ perspectives of principal buy-in were more related to implementation than principals’ or teachers’ perspectives. Findings extend the application of setting theory to the field of implementation science and suggest that interventionists may want to consider particular accounts of school setting factors before determining the likelihood of schools achieving high levels of implementation. VIEW DETAILS

Merritt, E., Rimm-Kaufman, S. E., Berry, R. Q., Walkowiak, T., Ottmar, E. M. (2010). A reflection framework for teaching mathematics. Teaching Children Mathematics, 17(4), 238-248. (FULL TEXT PDFPosted with permission from Teaching Children Mathematics, copyright 2010 by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. All rights reserved.)

Hulleman, C. S., Rimm-Kaufman, S. E., Abry, T. (2012). Innovative methodologies to explore implementation. Whole-Part-Whole: Construct validity, measurement, and analytical issues for intervention fidelity assessment in educational research. Halle, T. G., Metz, A. J., & Martinez-Beck, I. (Eds.) Applying implementation science in childhood settings. Baltimore, MD: Brookes.

Other papers forthcoming.

Mathematics Learning Study

Rimm-Kaufman, S. E., Baroody, A. E., Larsen, R. A. A., Curby, T. W., & Abry, T. (2014, July
28). To What Extent Do Teacher–Student Interaction Quality and Student Gender Contribute to Fifth Graders’ Engagement in Mathematics Learning?. Journal of Educational Psychology. Advance online publication.

Griggs, M. S., Rimm-Kaufman, S. E., Merritt, E. G., & Patton, C. L. (2013, July 29). The
Responsive Classroom Approach and Fifth Grade Students’ Math and Science Anxiety and
Self-Efficacy. School Psychology Quarterly. Advance online publication. doi:10.1037/spq0000026

Self-efficacy forecasts student persistence and achievement in challenging subjects. Thus, it is important to understand factors that contribute to students’ self-efficacy, a key factor in their success in math and science. The current cross-sectional study examined the contribution of students’ gender and math and science anxiety as well as schools’ use of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) practices to students’ math and science self-efficacy. Fifth graders (n = 1,561) completed questionnaires regarding their feelings about math and science. Approximately half of the students attended schools implementing the Responsive Classroom (RC) approach, an SEL intervention, as part of a randomized controlled trial. Results suggested no difference in math and science self-efficacy between boys and girls. Students who self-reported higher math and science anxiety also reported less self-efficacy toward these subjects. However, the negative association between students’ anxiety and self-efficacy was attenuated in schools using more RC practices compared with those using fewer RC practices. RC practices were associated with higher science self-efficacy. Results highlight anxiety as contributing to poor self-efficacy in math and science and suggest that RC practices create classroom conditions in which students’ anxiety is less strongly associated with negative beliefs about their ability to be successful in math and science. VIEW DETAILS

Early Learning Study

Rimm-Kaufman, S. E. & Wanless, S. B. (2012). An ecological perspective to understanding the early development of self-regulatory skills, social skills, and achievement. In R. C. Pianta (Ed.), Handbook of Early Childhood Development, (pp. 299-323). New York: The Guilford Press.

Merritt, E. G., Wanless, S. B., Rimm-Kaufman, S. E., Cameron, C., & Peugh, J. (2012). The contribution of teachers’ emotional support to children’s social behaviors and self-regulatory skills in first grade. School Psychology Review, 41(2), 141-159.

Ponitz, C. & Rimm-Kaufman, S. E. (2011). Contexts of Reading Instruction: Implications for Literacy Skills and Kindergarteners’ Behavioral Engagement. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 26, 157-168.

Brock, L. L., Rimm-Kaufman, S. E. & Nathanson, L. (2009). The contributions of ‘hot’ and ‘cool’ executive function to children’s academic achievement and learning-related behaviors, and engagement in kindergarten.  Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 24(3), 337-349.

Curby, T. W., Rimm-Kaufman, S. E., & Ponitz, C. C. (2009).  Teacher-child interactions and children’s achievement trajectories across kindergarten and first grade.  Journal of Educational Psychology, 101(4), 912-925.

Nathanson, L., Rimm-Kaufman, S.E., & Brock, L.L. (2009). Kindergarten adjustment difficulty: The Contribution of children’s effortful control and parental control. Early Education and Development, 20(5), 775-798.

Ponitz, C. C., Rimm-Kaufman, S. E., Brock, L. L. & Nathanson, L. (2009).  Early adjustment, gender differences, and classroom organizational climate in first grade.  The Elementary School Journal, 110(2), 142-162.

Ponitz, C. C., Rimm-Kaufman, S. E., Grimm, K. J., & Curby, T. W. (2009). Kindergarten classroom quality, behavioral engagement, and reading achievement. School Psychology Review, 38, 102-120.

Rimm-Kaufman, S. E., Curby, T., Grimm, K., Nathanson, L., & Brock, L. (2009).  The contribution of children’s self-regulation and classroom quality to children’s adaptive behaviors in the kindergarten classroom.  Developmental Psychology, 45(4), 958-972.

The Social and Academic Learning Study on the Responsive Classroom approach

McTigue, E. M., Rimm-Kaufman, S. E. (2011). The Responsive Classroom approach and its implications for improving reading and writing. Reading & Writing Quarterly: Overcoming Learning Difficulties, 27(1), 5-24.

Brock, L. L., Nishida, T. K., Chiong, C. & Grimm, K. J., & Rimm-Kaufman, S. E. (2008).  Children’s perceptions of the classroom environment and social and academic performance: A longitudinal analysis of the contribution of the Responsive Classroom approach. Journal of School Psychology, 46, 129-149.

Rimm-Kaufman, S. E. & Chiu, Y. I. (2007).  Promoting social and academic competence in the classroom: An intervention study examining the contribution of the Responsive Classroom approach.  Psychology in the Schools, 44(4), 397-413.

Rimm-Kaufman, S. E., Fan, X., Chiu, Y. I., & You, W. (2007).  The contribution of the Responsive Classroom approach on children’s academic achievement: Results from a three year longitudinal study.  Journal of School Psychology, 45, 401-421.

Sawyer, B. E. & Rimm-Kaufman, S. E. (2007).  Teacher collaboration in the context of the Responsive Classroom approach.  Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, 13(3), 211-245.

Rimm-Kaufman, S. E., Storm, M. D., Sawyer, B. E., Pianta, R. C., & La Paro, K. M. (2006).  The Teacher Belief Q-Sort: A measure of teachers’ priorities and beliefs in relation to disciplinary practices, teaching practices, and beliefs about children.  Journal of School Psychology, 44, 141-165.

Rimm-Kaufman, S. E., & Sawyer, B. E. (2004).  Primary-grade teachers’ self-efficacy beliefs, attitudes toward teaching, and discipline and teaching practice priorities in relation to the Responsive Classroom approach.  Elementary School Journal, 104(4), 321-341.

Other Recent Papers from the Social Development Lab

Rimm-Kaufman, S. E. & Hamre, B. (2010).  The role of psychological and developmental science in efforts to improve teacher quality.  Teacher College Record, 112(12), 2988-3023.

Rimm-Kaufman, S. E., & Ponitz, C. C. (2009). Introduction to the special issue on data-based investigations of the quality of preschool and early child care environments. Early Education and Development, 20, 201-210.

Rudasill, K. M., & Rimm-Kaufman, S. E. (2009). Teacher-child relationship quality: The roles of child temperament and teacher-child interactions. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 24, 107-120.

Curby, T. W., Rudasill, K. M., Rimm-Kaufman, S. E., & Konold, T. R. (2008).  The role of social competence in predicting gifted enrollment.  Psychology in the Schools, 45(8), 1-16.

Decker, L. & Rimm-Kaufman, S. E. (2008).  Personality characteristics and teacher beliefs among pre-service teachers.  Teacher Education Quarterly, 35(2), 45-64.

Gregory, A. & Rimm-Kaufman, S. E.  (2008). Positive mother-child interactions in kindergarten: Predictors of school success in high school.  School Psychology Review, 37(4), 499-515.

Downer, J. T., Rimm-Kaufman, S. E. & Pianta, R. C. (2007).  How do classroom conditions and children’s risk for school problems contribute to children’s engagement in learning?  School Psychology Review, 36, 413-432.

Rimm-Kaufman, S. E., La Paro, K. M., Downer, J. T., & Pianta, R. C. (2005).  The contribution of classroom setting and quality of instruction to children’s behavior in kindergarten classrooms.  Elementary School Journal, 105(4), 377-394.

Rimm-Kaufman, S. E., Voorhees, M. D., Snell, M. E., & La Paro, K. M. (2003).  Improving the sensitivity and responsivity of preservice teachers toward young children with disabilities.  Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 23(3), 151-162.

Early, D. M., Rimm-Kaufman, S. E., Cox, M. J., Saluja, G., Pianta, R. C., Bradley, R. H., &  Payne, C. C. (2002).  Maternal sensitivity and child wariness in the transition to kindergarten.  Parenting: Science and Practice, 2(4), 355-377.

Rimm-Kaufman, S. E., Early, D. M., Cox, M., Saluja, G., Pianta, R., Bradley, R. & Payne, C. (2002).  Early behavioral attributes and teachers’ sensitivity as predictors of competent behavior in the kindergarten classroom.  Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 23, 451-470.

Rimm-Kaufman, S. E., & Pianta, R. C. (2000).  An ecological perspective on children’s transition to kindergarten: A theoretical framework to guide empirical research.  Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 21(5), 491-511.

Rimm-Kaufman, S. E. & Pianta, R. C., Cox, M. J. (2000).  Teachers’ judgments of problems in the transition to kindergarten.  Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 15(2), 147-166.