1. Social and Academic Learning Study (SALS)

This three-year longitudinal, quasi-experimental study compared three schools implementing the Responsive Classroom approach at a school-wide level with three non-implementing schools and found that the Responsive Classroom approach is associated with better academic and social outcomes for elementary school children.

Six key findings:
  1. Children at schools using the Responsive Classroom approach showed greater increases in reading and math test scores.
  2. Teachers felt more effective and more positive about teaching.
  3. Children had better social skills.
  4. Teachers offered more high-quality instruction.
  5. Children felt more positive about school.
  6. Teachers collaborated with each other more.

Location: Urban school district in the Northeast
Years: 2001–2004
Principal Investigator: Dr. Sara Rimm-Kaufman, University of Virginia, Curry School of Education, Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning
Funder: DuBarry Foundation

SALS summary report (PDF)
SALS full report
(PDF)

As the developers of the Responsive Classroom approach developed and refined teaching practices, they sought grants and commissioned studies to help them gauge the efficacy of their work. Summaries of those studies follow.

2. A Multi-year Evaluation of the Responsive Classroom Approach: Its Effectiveness and Acceptability in Promoting Social and Academic Competence

Location: Springfield, Massachusetts
Years: 1996–1998
Principal Investigator: Dr. Stephen N. Elliott, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Funder: Shinnyo-En Foundation

Summary: There is a correlation over time, determined by regression analysis, between social skills improvement and improved Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS) scores. Therefore, a classroom that promotes the development of social skills will have higher scores on tests such as ITBS than classrooms that do not promote the development of social skills, all other confounding factors held constant.
 

3. The Responsive Classroom Approach: Its Effectiveness and Acceptability

Location: Washington, DC
Year: 1995
Principal Investigator: Dr. Stephen N. Elliott, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Funder: The Center for Systemic Education Change, Washington, DC

Summary: Results of West Haven study (1993) were replicated: Students whose teachers used Responsive Classroom practices generally were perceived to exhibit higher levels of social skills and fewer problem behaviors than those with limited or no exposure. Findings held up across racially diverse sub-samples.
 

4. Caring to Learn: A Report on the Positive Impact of a Social Curriculum

Location: West Haven, Connecticut
Year: 1993
Principal Investigator: Dr. Stephen N. Elliott, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Funder: The Xerox Foundation

Summary: Students whose teachers used Responsive Classroom practices were perceived to exhibit higher levels of social skills and fewer problem behaviors than those with limited or no exposure. Findings held up across racially diverse sub-samples.