New Research Shows Responsive Classroom Implementation

Lauren Williams's picture
Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The results are coming in from a US Department of Education funded study of Responsive Classroom, a nationally recognized evidence-based approach to teaching that increases academic achievement, decreases problem behaviors, improves social skills, and leads to more high-quality instruction.

In a paper recently published in Prevention Science, researchers from the Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning at the University of Virginia announced findings that teachers perceive principal buy-in, on-going coaching, and a safe environment to try new teaching practices as the most important factors for consistently and successfully implementing Responsive Classroom practices.

The paper, “Setting-Level Influences on Implementation of the Responsive Classroom Approach,” is available on the Prevention Science web site and is summarized in this Research Brief. Teachers reported that their principal’s motivation, consistent implementation of Responsive Classroom practices schoolwide, and willingness to provide materials and time to accommodate implementation, were important supports that promoted teachers’ consistent use of Responsive Classroom practices.

According to Lora Hodges, Executive Director of Northeast Foundation for Children (NEFC), developers of the Responsive Classroom approach, “The findings are consistent with NEFC’s focus on schoolwide implementation of the Responsive Classroom approach as a means of helping districts and schools achieve their dual aims of increasing teacher effectiveness and improving student performance.” The Responsive Classroom’s schoolwide model provides sustained training for the entire teaching staff and builds the principal’s capacity to gain teacher buy-in and to initiate and sustain schoolwide implementation.

Teachers also reported that coaching, which includes feedback and teaching demonstrations from both administrators and certified Responsive Classroom trainers, gave them the encouragement they needed to feel safe to take risks and attempt new ways of interacting with students.

“It’s gratifying to hear how much teachers value the work of our consultants,“ says Hodges. “They’re truly dedicated to the Responsive Classroom approach as a highly effective way to create optimal learning environments for all students.”

This paper is one of several expected to be published regarding findings from the Responsive Classroom Efficacy Study, a randomized, controlled trial designed as a three year longitudinal study.

About Northeast Foundation for Children, Inc. and the Responsive Classroom® approach

Northeast Foundation for Children, Inc. (NEFC), a not-for-profit organization, was established in 1981 by elementary school educators who envisioned a way of teaching that would bring together academic and social learning throughout the school day. That way of teaching, called the Responsive Classroom approach, is now being used in schools across the country. It has been recognized by the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning as one of 23 effective social-emotional learning programs.

Northeast Foundation for Children offers Responsive Classroom on-site consulting services to schools and districts, workshops and institutes for educators in locations around the country, and numerous books, videos, and other resources for teachers and administrators.

For more information, visit