SPARK: Speaking to the Potential, Ability, & Resilience Inside Every Kid

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Program description

SPARK: Speaking to the Potential, Ability, & Resilience Inside Every Kid, offered by The SPARK Initiative, provides a lesson-based approach to SEL. It includes programming for grades 9-12 and demonstrates evidence of effectiveness in grades 9-12. Tranlsated materials for SPARK are available in Spanish. Additionally, the UK version includes British English in print materials and in video dialect.

Strategies supporting educational equity

SPARK provides strategies for working with bias, youth action projects, and customizing for context. This includes training offerings where educators examine scenarios to recognize bias and increase self-awareness. Additionally, there are opportunities for students to research, create, and apply new ideas and solutions to world issues of personal interest.

      • SEL lessons
      • Instructional practices
      • Relationship building
      • SEL generalization
      • Shared agreements
      • Student voice
      • Adult SEL
      • Peer mentoring
      • Student supports
      • Student Voice
      • Service-learning
      • Activities and Resources for Home
    • Onsite in-person training
    • Virtual training
    • Offsite training
    • Train the trainer model
    • Administrator support
    • Coaching
    • Technical assistance
    • Professional Learning Communities (PLCs)
    • Online resource library
    • Self-report tools for monitoring implementation
    • Observational tools
    • Tools for measuring student success

Evidence of effectiveness

Results from a randomized control trial (RCT) evaluation conducted in the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 academic years (unpublished report written in 2020) supported the effectiveness of SPARK Teen for high school students. The study included 201 students in grades 9 through 12 in an urban school district in the U.S. Southeast region (Hispanic/Latinx = 58%; Black/African American = 27%, white = 12%; 92% of participating students were eligible for FRPL). This evaluation found that students receiving instruction using SPARK Teen Program showed significantly greater growth in self-efficacy, more specifically in self-reported problem-solving skills and mastery relatedness skills, compared to control students (outcomes reported approximately 13 weeks after baseline, while controlling for outcome pretest). Additionally, this evaluation found that students receiving instruction using the SPARK Teen Program showed significantly greater growth in self-reported communication skills, relatedness resiliency skills, optimism, and self-regulation (including impulsive behaviors and emotional understanding) compared to control students over this same time.

  • Evidence shown in grades
    9, 10, 11, 12
    School characteristics
      • Urban
      • Southeast
    Student characteristics
    • Black / African American
    • Hispanic / Latinx
    • White
    • Low income
    Percentage Low Income
    • Eligible for FRPL: 92%
    Study design type
    • RCT
    Greater than 350 students included in study design type
    • No
    Multiple school districts included at study design type
    • No
    • Improved academic performance
    • Reduced emotional distress
    • Improved identity development and agency
    • Reduced problem behaviors
    • Improved school climate
    • Improved school connectedness
    • Improved social behaviors
    • Improved teaching practices
    • Improved other SEL skills and attitudes

How does SPARK support SEL implementation across multiple settings?

“The SPARK mentoring programs are designed to be taught one-on-one, in a small group, an after-school setting or via traditional school classroom. Professional Development components, along with parent letters and at-home activity suggestions encourage family engagement. ”

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  • Accepted by CASEL
  • Ferrante, S., Boaz, T.L., Kutash, K., Green, A.L., and Wheeldon-Reece, B. (2020). Effects of the Speaking to the Potential, Ability, and Resilience Inside Every Kid (SPARK) Curriculum. Manuscript submitted for publication

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  • Program approach: Free Standing Lessons
  • Significant evaluation outcomes: Improved identity development and agency, Improved other SEL skills and attitudes
  • Student characteristics: Black / African American, Hispanic / Latinx, White, Low income
  • School characteristics: Urban, Southeast
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