Academic Supports

Using Ripple Effects to bridge the achievement gap

The link between social-emotional factors and academic performance is strong. Risk factors in multiple domains – personal, family, peer, school, community and society – have been scientifically correlated with underachievement.

Why focus on the non-academic factors?

Non-academic factors can be major barriers to academic success, because they:

  • Create chronic stress that impacts attention, working memory, and problem solving
  • Contribute to a fundamental inequity in social-emotional readiness to learn
  • Negatively impact school climate: teacher-student and peer to peer relationships
  • Filter teacher expectations through ethnicity, gender and class-based lenses

NIH Study

An innovative model grounded in science

Ripple Effects software is based on the theory that students’ own social-emotional experience and skills can be a great starting point to improve school performance. The Ripple Effects model represents a synthesis of theory from three major disciplines: prevention science; education; and technology design.

Students’ barriers to learning become the bridges to learning

Ripple Effects’ training software uses the most challenging parts of each student’s own life as the starting point to develop their:

  • Belief in their capacity to learn
  • Motivation to learn
  • Emotional readiness to learn
  • Social-emotional competencies linked to learning success
  • Responsible, assertive, pro-social behavior
  • Language Arts skills in listening, speaking, reading, writing, media analysis

Ripple Effects also addresses teacher side of the learning equation

Ripple Effects for Staff addresses the teacher side of the learning equation through developing personal leadership, promoting cultural competence, developing skills in managing diverse learners, especially communicating high expectations, and providing training in the nuts and bolts of making intervention programs work.

Proven results

As little as three hours exposure to Ripple Effects over one semester, is proven to results in improved academic performance and better behavior. Better problem solving skills, greater empathy, higher grades, fewer discipline referrals, less absenteeism and lowered depression scores have all been correlated with exposure to Ripple Effects.

NIH funded, randomized controlled trials show dramatic results with students at risk for failure

The most dramatic impact of Ripple Effects on academic achievement has been with minority students with multiple risk factors for school failure, such as low SES, family structure not intact, violence in the neighborhood, immigrant status, previous school failure, and /or prior contact with juvenile justice. In one such school, experimental group students who had a starting GPA of 1.2 brought that up to 2.4 in single semester – the difference between failure and success. By contrast GPA for the control group started at 1.7 and went down to 1.4. The experimental group received the Ripple Effects intervention in lieu of academic instruction twice a week for seven weeks.

“Non-compliant” students completed 180 percent of requirements, but had to be forced to do first tutorial

In a last chance, chaotic school for students with a history of academic failure and behavior problems, “non-compliant” students who had any exposure to Ripple Effects voluntarily used the program to explore 180% of assigned topics. Many of their personal explorations centered on trauma related topics: parental addiction, death, bullying and abuse. If they used the program, grades went up, discipline problems went down. A year later, they stayed in school at twice the rate.


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