McDowell Institute – Guiding School Systems

Nearly 1 in 3 students in Pennsylvania report symptoms of depression (Pennsylvania Youth Survey, 2017). A little over one in five (22.2 percent) adolescents between the ages of 13-18 experience a mental disorder that has a severe impact on daily functioning (Merikangas et al., 2010). Further alarming is the fact that suicide is the second leading cause of death among adolescents and young adults (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2013). These statistics provide insight in to the daily challenges facing school systems in our school today.

According to the Harvard Review for Psychiatry (2017), school-based mental health programs can reach large numbers of children, with increasing evidence of effectiveness in improving mental health and related outcomes. Substantial research now shows that school-based mental health interventions can be widely implemented and can lead to population-wide improvements in mental health, physical health, educational, and social outcomes.

Designing, implementing and sustaining effective data-driven school-based programs to enhance social-emotional-behavioral wellness of students and staff requires a systematic approach. Specifically, the application of multi-tiered logic is required leading to the establishment of measurable objectives and metrics germane to assessing degrees of impact. To this end, the McDowell Institute provides support to school and community leaders to organize their extant data in a manner that lends itself to the development of an over-arching logic model and associated actions plans reflecting prioritized interventions reflected in their logic model. The following template is employed with local leadership teams to organize their data in terms of identifying needs and gaps, and in turn, prioritize impacts, outcomes, and objectives that become the basis for selection and installation of evidence-based programs and practices to achieve the targeted outcomes.

  • Needs and Gaps
  • Data Sources
  • Objectives
  • Activities, Curricula, Programs, Services, Strategies and Policies
  • Partner Roles and Resources
  • Process Measures
  • Impact and Outcome Measures

Once the multi-tiered logic is applied through the above framework, attention turns to developing action plans to implement the identified activities, curricula, programs, services, strategies and policies (see middle column above). The following template is used to develop actions plans to guide district scale up and roll out of these evidence-based programs and practices in a sustainable manner.

  • Objective
  • Activity
  • What action will occur?
  • Who will carry it out?
  • What resources are needed?
  • by when and how to monitor?
  • Communication: How and Whom?
  • Resources needed
  • Status Updates