Responsive Classroom Efficacy Study (RCES)


About the Project

The Responsive Classroom Efficacy Study (RCES) was a randomized controlled trial examining the efficacy of the Responsive Classroom® Approach. The Responsive Classroom® Approach, an intervention developed by the Center for Responsive Schools is designed to integrate social and academic learning and improve the capacity of teachers to manage their classrooms effectively.

The Research

RCES involved 24 schools and data collection began in January, 2008. It was designed as a three-year longitudinal study; children and their teachers were followed from grades three through five with a special emphasis on the extent to which the Responsive Classroom® Approach related to classroom quality during mathematics instruction and ultimately, children’s math achievement.

The Funding

This work was funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Institute for Education Sciences through a Teacher Quality Mathematics grant awarded to Sara Rimm-Kaufman, Xitao Fan, and Robert Berry.

The Findings

  • Rimm-Kaufman, et al. (2014) found that Responsive Classroom approach did not cause gains in student academic achievement, but RC training led to an increase of RC classroom practices, which led to boosts in student achievement over a three year period.

  • Curby, Rimm-Kaufman & Abry (2013) found that classrooms with higher emotional support early in the school year show boosts in instructional support later in the school year, which affirms that creating a safe and supportive environment earlier in the year yields later benefits by improving the quality of instruction.

  • Banse, Curby, Palacios & Rimm-Kaufman (2018) used observational measures (i.e., CLASS, M-Scan) to study fifth grade mathematics teachers to see what practices early in the year forecast high quality instruction later in the year.

    • Results showed that classrooms with emotionally-supportive and highly-organized teacher-student interactions at the beginning of the year were more likely to produce higher levels of mathematical discourse and more coherent math instruction later in the school year, which is important.

    • These findings call attention to the importance of starting out the school year in ways that enhance positive social interactions among teachers and peers, reflect teachers’ sensitivity toward their students, convey clear expectations to students, and create productive, multi-modal learning environments. Such efforts show pay-off later in the school year.