Although approximately one-fourth of adolescents have a mental health disorder only half of them receive treatment. The goal of this study was to determine if Strong Kids, a social and emotional learning curriculum, implemented over a 4-week period could help decrease internalizing symptoms and increase resilience in middle school students, something not previously investigated. This study also measured social and emotional knowledge as measured by the Strong Kids questionnaire. Additionally, treatment fidelity and social validity were measured. The study used a non-equivalent, control group design. The sample consisted of 148 students: 70 in the treatment group and 78 in the control group. This study was completed using existing data from a title one middle school that implemented Strong Kids. The school had a relatively diverse population and was relatively low SES, with 66% of students receiving free or reduced price school lunch. The Strong Kids curriculum was taught by the school's health teacher to half of the eighth grade students, while the other half received normal state curriculum. Pre and post rating scales were completed by teachers and students on measures of resilience, internalizing symptoms, and social-emotional knowledge. Since there were some differences at pre-test, a 2-by-2 mixed-design analysis of variance and an analysis of covariance were used to analyze results. Results suggested that teacher was able to implement the curriculum with fidelity, with moderate social validity among students and the teacher, and some benefit for at-risk students. While the differences only approached statistical significance, it was likely due to the small sample size of at-risk students. The lack of significant differences between treatment and control classrooms were likely due to confounds. Further, this study suggests that the state curriculum implemented may be effective for general education students. SEL programs like Strong Kids could be used as a targeted approach for students who are at-risk or struggling with internalizing symptoms. Future studies should include randomly assigned students, parent and student ratings, different measures for resilience, a longer intervention period, and follow up data points if implemented over a shorter time frame.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Counseling Psychology and Special Education



Date Submitted


Document Type





social and emotional learning, middle school, health classroom, internalizing symptoms, resilience