First Step to Success

An Evidence-Based Practice


First Step to Success is an early intervention program designed to prevent antisocial behavior in school. The program targets at-risk kindergartners who show the early signs of an antisocial pattern of behavior (e.g., aggression, oppositional-defiant behavior, severe fits of temper, victimization of others). The intervention is based on the early-starter model of the development of antisocial behavior. Early signs of conduct problems can be detected as early as preschool. Many children bring a pattern of antisocial behavior with them from home when they enter school. This early pattern can indicate the beginning of a stable pattern of maladaptive behavior that predicts more severe problems later on when the youths are then less amenable to treatment. More severe problems include issues such as peer rejection, school dropout, and delinquency.

First Step to Success consists of three interconnected modules: 1) proactive, universal screening of all kindergarteners, 2) school intervention involving the teacher, peers, and the target child, and 3) parent/caregiver training and involvement to support the child's school adjustment. The intervention requires about 3 months for full implementation in both school and home settings.

Goal / Mission

The mission of the Institute on Violence and Destructive Behavior (IVDB) is to empower schools and social service agencies to address violence and destructive behavior, at the point of school entry and beyond, in order to ensure safety and to facilitate the academic achievement and healthy social development of children and youth. The primary goal of this program is to divert antisocial kindergartners from an antisocial behavior pattern during their subsequent school careers and to develop in them the competencies needed to build effective teacher- and peer-related, social-behavioral adjustments.

Results / Accomplishments

A cohort design with kindergartners who met participation criteria was randomly assigned to experimental and waitlist control groups. Findings were similar for cohorts 1 and 2 (both made substantial average gains), so the samples were combined and compared with waitlist controls. Baseline measures were used as covariates in all analyses. At the postintervention point, students who participated in First Step to Success were rated by teachers as significantly more adaptive (p<.001), less aggressive (p<.001), and less maladaptive (p<.001) compared with control students. Observations made of the students' appropriate attention to teachers indicated that the intervention subjects spent more time engaged academically (p<.05) than controls did. There were no differences between groups on teacher ratings of withdrawn behavior. Similar results were found at follow-up for cohort 1 at first grade and second grade, and for cohort 2 at first grade.

About this Promising Practice

Primary Contact
Hill M. Walker
The Institute on Violence and Destructive Behavior
1265 University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403
(541) 346-3591
Health / Mental Health & Mental Disorders
Health / Children's Health
Education / School Environment
The Institute on Violence and Destructive Behavior
The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention's Model Programs Guide (MPG)
Date of publication
For more details
Target Audience

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