Center for Educational Transformation

Investigating the Effectiveness of Tier II & Tier III Mental Health Supports in Two Rural School Districts

Nicole Skaar

Nicole Skaar


DISTRICT PARTNER(S): Oskaloosa CSD, North Mahaska CSD, Great Prairie AEA


ABSTRACT: Approximately one-fifth of students experience mental health difficulties and cannot fully benefit from the available academic and extracurricular opportunities. Students with mental health difficulties experience a variety of negative outcomes, including lower academic achievement and disengagement from school. Teachers and administrators are also impacted as they must spend time supporting student mental health and behavior, which leads to less time focused on academic instruction and other positive interactions.

School-based mental health programs are being implemented in schools across the country through partnerships with community-based mental health providers; however, rural schools are at a disadvantage because they are located in communities with reduced access to community-based mental health providers. Existing school-based mental health programs, which were developed in large cities, are thus difficult to replicate in rural schools.

This project aims to supplement existing universal-level supports by developing and implementing mental health assessment and intervention supports at Tier II and Tier III within two rural school districts in Iowa. We will assess the effectiveness of the program through both quantitative and qualitative measurement of both student- and systems-level variables. Student-level variables will include mental health measures, school behavior, and academic achievement. School-level variables will include amount of time administrators and counselors spend working through crises with students and stakeholder acceptability of program elements.