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Gary L. Bowen, Kenan Distinguished Professor in the School of Social Work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, describes the evaluation of an intervention system that uses assessment to design and implement high quality, individualized youth services.

The School of Social Work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has received funding from the William T. Grant Foundation for a three-year project to evaluate the effectiveness and sustainability of a research-based intervention: the School Success Profile Intervention Package (SSP-IP).¹ The SSP-IP is designed for use by local youth service providers, including schools, out-of-school time programs, and community groups. The package allows youth workers to assess the needs of their target populations and to design and implement appropriate interventions.

The School Success Profile (SSP) component of the package is an assessment tool that collects data from middle and high school students about their social environments (neighborhoods, schools, peers, and families), physical and psychological well-being, and school performance. Data from the SSP highlight community needs and inform the design of both in-school and out-of-school interventions. Implementation of these interventions is aided by a training component for youth workers, which includes information on how to administer the SSP and how to use SSP data to design interventions. The SSP-IP also includes an ongoing technical assistance component, which is provided both at intervention sites and online.

The new study will evaluate the success of the SSP-IP on academic performance and adjustment. It will employ a longitudinal experimental design and will use school performance data from North Carolina’s Department of Public Instruction (DPI). The study sample will include middle schools in North Carolina that have received “no recognition” ratings from the DPI. (A school receiving the no recognition label under North Carolina’s ABC Accountability Program has at least 60% of its students performing at or above grade level, but less-than-expected growth in math and reading achievement for the previous academic year.) Included in the study will be 11 schools receiving the SSP-IP and 33 schools not receiving it.

The evaluation will address the following three outcome-related questions:

  1. Can the intervention package improve the academic trajectories of individual students?
  2. Can the intervention package improve the academic standing of schools, as measured by state standards?
  3. Does the intervention package encourage schools to become learning organizations?²

I will be leading this three-year evaluation together with Professor Natasha K. Bowen, and we will be assisted by Dr. Elizabeth Glennie, director of the North Carolina Education Research Data Center at Duke University. The evaluation will include administration of the SSP, consultations with schools to develop interventions, and collection of implementation and outcome data as well as briefings of the results for school personnel. Results will be made available in technical reports on the SSP website, through presentations at national research conferences, and via publication in professional journals.

For further information about the School Success Profile, visit

¹ The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has provided supplemental funding for this evaluation.
² Learning organization is a technical term describing an organization that encourages teamwork, innovation, and open, inclusive channels of communication. In a learning organization team members learn from both their successes and failures in order to meet challenges and solve problems.

Gary L. Bowen, Ph.D.
Kenan Distinguished Professor
School of Social Work
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Tate - Turner - Kuralt Building
301 Pittsboro Street, CB# 3550
Chapel Hill, NC 27599–3550
Tel: 919-962-6542

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