First Step Next



Funded by the United States Department of Education (Institute of Education Sciences: R324A150221), the overall purpose of this project is to conduct an efficacy study to replicate the positive effects of the FIRST STEP Next intervention for use with children in pre-k and Head Start settings. FIRST STEP Next is used for improving social/behavioral and academic outcomes to support learning. Ideally, this project will result in an intervention option for serving young children with severely challenging behavior across home and school settings that meets the What Works Clearinghouse evidence standards.

Project Goals:

  • Identify the utility of the intervention (i.e., the degree to which it is feasible and practical for implementation in authentic school settings.)
  • Mantle the FIRST STEP Next intervention for dissemination at the program – rather than the classroom– level by addressing aspects of implementation and sustainability.
  • Investigate participant consumer satisfaction (caregivers and teachers) results that may be associated with positive caregiver/children interaction outcomes attributable to different components of the intervention.
  • Examine factors that may serve as moderators of intervention effects including research site, teacher characteristics, classroom environment, student characteristics, and caregiver characteristics. In addition, we will examine the impact of intervention dosage and implementation fidelity on outcomes.
  • Evaluate factors that would impact FIRST STEP Next’s broad implementation in preschool settings, including (a) distal training and supervision via web-supported methods and (b) expansion of the fidelity measure and the classroom environment to both experimental and control condition.
  • Examine the long-term impact of the intervention on children’s social skills, problem behavior, and academic performance.

FIRST STEP Next Activities

  • One-on-one skill instruction with a behavioral coach: The FIRST STEP Next coach teaches the child a series of school success skills, referred to as Super Student Skills.
  • A classroom game in which the student earns points and praise for displaying school success skills: The FIRST STEP Next coach uses a card, with the color green on one side and red on the other, to provide on-going feedback and points for appropriate behavior in the classroom. Points that are earned during the Green Card Game are exchanged for group activity rewards at school that are shared equally with peers.
  • A home component linking skills introduced at school to the home context: Parents participate in the program by praising and rewarding their child for doing well at school, reviewing school success skills at home, and completing activities that promote positive parent-child interactions.

Who we serve: The study served 4- and 5-year-olds with challenging behaviors in preschool and Head Start programs. Sixteen preschool centers (8 in Kentucky and 8 in Oregon) were recruited to participate in each of 3 years. Each year, 8 centers were randomly be assigned the FIRST STEP Next intervention condition and 8 centers were randomly assigned to a business-as-usual condition.


  • US Department of Education
  • Oregon Research Institute (PI- Ed Feil)
  • University of Oregon (Co-PI: Hill Walker)
  • University of Northern Arizona
  • Jefferson County Public Schools
  • Covington Public Schools


Dr. Andy Frey

302 Patterson Hall

Louisville, KY 40292

(502) 852-0431