Parent Perspectives on Family-Based Psychological Interventions for Congenital Heart Disease

Parents of children with congenital heart disease (CHD) want individualized, formal psychosocial support during their children’s in-hospital stays, according to a new study published in the Journal of Pediatrics. The study by researchers from Nemours Children’s Health System outlines ways to optimize mental health for parents and mitigate the impact of stress on long-term outcomes for children and families.

“The post-surgical recovery period for children with CHD is an incredibly stressful time for parents. Uncertainty, communication challenges, and limited opportunities to engage in self-care can impact their mental health,” said Erica Sood, PhD, senior author and pediatric psychologist within the Nemours Cardiac Center at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children. “This research helps us understand how we can deliver the psychosocial supports parents need during stressful hospitalizations and after hospital discharge.”

CHD is the most common birth defect, often requiring extensive cardiac surgery in a child’s first year of life. Children with CHD are at high risk for neurodevelopmental and behavioral impairments, and researchers say promoting parental mental health can support positive outcomes for children with CHD and their families.

Using qualitative and quantitative methods to determine parental preferences for the goals and structure of psychosocial programs, researchers interviewed 34 parents (20 mothers and 14 fathers) of 21 young children with CHD. Parents indicated that they want their child’s medical team to support their psychosocial needs at each stage of care. Parents wanted psychosocial support to meet their unique needs through individualized programs delivered by nurses, physicians, psychologists, social workers, and peer mentors.

Authors: Colette Gramszlo, Allison Karpyn, Abigail Demianczyk, Amanda Shillingford, Erin Riegel, Anne Kazak, Erica Sood

Understanding the Landscape of Default Beverage Policies and Preliminary Data from Delaware Restaurants

The consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) such as soda and energy drinks has been linked to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, among other negative health outcomes. The consumption of SSBs is of particular concern for children, because they are forming dietary habits that have the potential to last a lifetime, and because overweight children are at high risk of becoming overweight adolescents and adults. In response, many government entities have enacted a range of policies that seek to limit children’s SSB consumption by encouraging healthier choices. One example, and the focal point of this document, are policies that require restaurants offering bundled children’s meals to offer only unsweetened or lightly-sweetened drinks as the default beverage option. In most cases, these policies retain the option to purchase an SSB outside of the bundled meal. A healthy default beverage policy intends to discourage SSB consumption and encourage the formation of healthy habits and conscious choices on the part of the consumer. The Center for Research in Education and Social Policy (CRESP) at the University of Delaware is involved in research to understanding the impact of such policy measures.

Keywords: Sugar-Sweetened Beverages, SSBs, healthy beverage choices, sugary drinks, kids’ meal choices, childhood obesity, Wilmington default beverage policies.



Authors: Allison Karpyn, Jesse Arkins, Nicole Kennedy, Tara Tracy

Bookworms Case Study Brief

In the summer of 2018, the Center for Research in Education and Social Policy (CRESP) at the University of Delaware (UD) was approached to conduct a case study of the implementation of the Bookworms curriculum at a Case Study District (CSD) in rural Southern Delaware. The district, which educates approximately 3500 students and a large percentage of low-income children, has historically struggled in getting students to demonstrate academic proficiency and thus turned to the Bookworms program in their reform efforts. Through our analysis, we consistently found where CSD students were once underperforming the state average, these same students are now outperforming the state average three years later. Additionally, these results are seen in nearly all subgroups of students [including English Language Learners (ELL) and special education]. Bookworms taught students how to think critically, understand what they read, and write clearly—crucial skills that align with both Common Core standards and the state-mandated assessment.

Keywords: Reading, literacy, case Study

Bookworms Case Study Report

In the summer of 2018, the Center for Research in Education and Social Policy (CRESP) at the University of Delaware (UD) was approached by staff of UD’s Professional Development Center for Educators (PDCE) to conduct a case study of the implementation of the Bookworms Curriculum at Seaford School District in Seaford, DE. Seaford SD consists of four elementary, one middle, and one high school. The district educates approximately 3500 students in mostly rural southwestern Delaware. Serving a large percentage of low-income children, Seaford SD has historically struggled in getting students to demonstrate academic proficiency and turned to the Bookworms program in their reform efforts.

The Bookworms Curriculum is unique in that lesson plans are Open Educational Resources (OERs). Bookworms was also designed by drawing best practices from leading literacy research and places significant emphasis on differentiation. Additionally, the curriculum is notable in the high volume of reading required by students. In order to maximize daily reading and student engagement, Bookworms incorporates 265 whole books instead of the shorter reading passages that are often found in other curricula.

Key to the Bookworms Curriculum is the daily inclusion of three 45-minute instructional blocks. The first block consists of general English Language Arts (ELA) instruction, the second block consists of shared reading, and the third and final block is designed to provide the class with differentiated reading instruction.

Introduction to the Bookworms Curriculum at Seaford took place in several stages. The first stage of implementation began in the fall of 2014. During this time, UD had four staff members who supported Seaford classroom teachers with their Tier 1 instruction. Training on differentiation (Tier 2 instruction) was also provided at this time to the reading specialists and paraprofessionals. In the fall of 2018, the full rollout of the Bookworms K-5 Reading and Writing Curriculum occurred. As of the fall of 2018, Seaford is still receiving coaching and online PD, with plans for this support continuing into the spring of 2019.

In order to evaluate the rollout and impact of the Bookworms Curriculum and associated PD at the four Seaford elementary schools, CRESP utilized several evaluation methods. First, Seaford SD instructional staff and administrators were interviewed in order to gain insight into their experience adopting the Bookworms Curriculum. We also interviewed the Bookworms coaches in order to gain additional perspective on Seaford’s efforts. Finally, Smarter Balanced assessment results were analyzed in order to determine the impact of the Bookworms Curriculum on academic achievement.

We find that the evidence suggests that Seaford SD’s experience implementing the Bookworms Curriculum and their interaction with the Bookworms coaching staff was extremely positive. While some teachers and administrators expressed concern regarding if the program can serve the needs of readers well below grade level (such as those in Tier 3), English Language Learners (ELL), and students receiving Special Education services, the Bookworms coaching staff took great efforts to help alleviate these concerns.

School staff and administration all expressed support for the curriculum and noted the improvement seen in the academic achievement of the students. Through our analysis, we consistently found where Seaford students were once underperforming the state average, these same students are now outperforming the state average three years later. Additionally, these results are seen in all subgroups of students (including ELL and special education students).

Overall, we conclude that Seaford’s implementation of the Bookworms Curriculum has been a success. While there have been some challenges, many of these challenges are present in any transition to a new curriculum. Furthermore, while some school staff had concerns that Bookworms may not meet the needs of Tier 3, ELL, or special education students, we find that all subgroups of students appeared to show improvement after the introduction of the Bookworms Curriculum.

Keywords: Reading, literacy, case study

Sue Giancola, Shameeka Jelenewicz, Jeffrey Klein, Gabriella Mora, Katrina Morrison, Danielle Riser, Akisha Sarfo

Mental and Behavioral Health

The prevalence—as well as social and economic costs—of mental, emotional, and behavioral health disorders among American students is alarming. According to the National Academy of Medicine, nearly 1 in every 5 American students struggles with mental, emotional, and behavioral health each year [National Research Council and Institute of Medicine (NRC & IOM), 2009]. Children with mental or behavioral health problems are at greater risk of falling behind in school and, left untreated, can compound that risk into adulthood. Mental, emotional, and behavioral health disorders disproportionately affect low-income students, students of color, and students with a history of adverse childhood events (i.e., trauma).

Recent policy change at the federal level allows states and local education agencies to prioritize and direct resources towards more holistic indicators of student success, such as student access to mental and behavioral resources.  As such, policy solutions and interventions in mental and behavioral health are most successful if guided by a multitiered system of support (MTSS): universal mental, emotional, and behavioral supports for all students; targeted screening and intervention for at-risk students; and intensive support for students demonstrating the highest needs.  Additionally, research strongly supports the use of school-based mental health consultation as an effective strategy for providing mental health services to children.

Full reference list: PB18-004 References

Keywords: mental health, behavior, emotional health, psychology, support

Mapping the Field: Use of Research Evidence in Policy and Practice

The use of research evidence (URE) in policy and practice is relevant to many academic
disciplines; and indeed many policy and practice domains. Different methods and approaches to
measuring, evaluating, promoting and describing the various ways in which evidence and
policy/practice interact have sprung up, reflecting the broad and diverse areas where this is a
concern. There has also been an explosion of research into how evidence is produced and used,
with dedicated journals and increased funding for URE work emerging over last 15 years. Yet at
the same time, those engaged in the scholarship and practice of URE face challenges advancing
the field in terms of both accumulation of knowledge over time and across disciplines and
intervention and improvement in evidence use. Our shared interest in advancing URE and its
efforts, in collaboration with the William T. Grant Foundation, brought us together to “map the
field” in this research report, with the objective of provoking a conversation about where we are and what we need to
move forward.


In addition to the research report, the authors also provide two additional resources:

Finding Support: Organizations Funding URE Work

Scholars across disciplines and countries are engaging in work related to the use of research evidence (URE). Their work is funded by a range of sources, from private philanthropies to government agencies, demonstrating the scope and scale of commitment across the globe. This document clarifies the scope of support for this work and promotes funding opportunities and potential collaboration among URE scholars and leaders across organizations.

Influential Works: Knowledge Utilization References

Our first step in “mapping the field” was to learn more about who does this work and who has influenced their efforts. In this document, we share one of the first products – a reference list. More than 120 resources, spanning decades, disciplines, and formats are included.



Keywords: Use of research evidence, evidence-based policy and practice, evidence use, knowledge utilization, research use, knowledge broker, improvement science, program evaluation,  education policy, research-practice partnerships, studies of research use, research impact

Authors: Elizabeth N. Farley-Ripple, Annette Boaz, Kathryn Oliver, Robert Borst, Xiaoxue Zhang 


Food and Public Health: A Practical Introduction

A new introduction to public health’s most elemental topic

Food is baked in to most things that public health is and does. But for a field charged with carrying torches as divergent as anti-hunger and anti-obesity, it’s unlikely, even impossible, to shape a unified approach to complex concepts like food environment, food access, or even nutrition.

Food and Public Health,  offers a contextualized, accessible introduction to understanding the foundations (and contradictions) at the intersection of these two topics.  Edited by CRESP Senior Associate Director, Dr. Allison Karpyn, and featuring contributions from twenty-four insightful authors, the book distills the historical, political, sociological, and scientific factors influencing what we eat and where our food comes from, then offers actionable insights for future nutritionists, social workers, dietitians, and researchers in public health.

Guiding the reader through more than a century of food-focused regulation, policy, and education, Food and Public Health is an essential introduction to:

· food production and availability on a global and neighborhood scale
· dietary guidelines, agricultural subsidies, rationing, and other attempts by governments to shape their citizens’ diets
· best practices in health promotion and chronic disease prevention
· food insecurity and its paradoxical role as driver of both hunger and obesity

Enriched with real-world examples and case studies, Food and Public Health offers a crucial link between kitchen tables and populations for the classroom.

Keywords: Public health, Food, Education, Nutrition, Policy, Food Environment, Food Access, Healthy Food Marketing

Allison Karpyn

Responsive Classroom

For too many students and teachers, a nurturing, safe, positive school climate is out of reach.
Issues such as adverse childhood experiences, bullying, and chronic absenteeism present daily
challenges. Measures to address these challenges have fallen short and are often punitive actions
that are disproportionately applied to students of color and those with disabilities.
Responsive Classroom is an evidence-based social and emotional learning (SEL) approach to
teaching that integrates social and emotional skill development with academic instruction.
Research shows SEL programs and initiatives like the Responsive Classroom approach are associated
with improved academic achievement, school climate, and instructional quality. The cost-benefits
are compelling: Responsive Classroom has been shown to yield a 9:1 return on investment (ROI).
Policymakers have the opportunity to scale evidence-based SEL programs like Responsive
Classroom to more schools, districts, and communities. Comprehensive and locally determined
policy solutions should be inclusive; offer guidance and supports to teachers and school leaders,
such as technical assistance and professional development; and reach students grades pre-K to 12.

Full reference list: PB18-003 References

Keywords: Responsive Classroom, Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), School Climate, Academic Achievement, Instructional Quality