Improving the Social-Emotional Development of Oklahoma’s Young Children (2023)

Oklahoma Association of Community Action Agencies

Improving the Social-Emotional Development of Oklahoma’s Young Children (1)

Date Submitted: 09/08/2021

Contact Information:

Paula A. Brown Head Start Collaboration Office Director

(405) 949-1495

Oklahoma Association of Community Action Agencies

605 Centennial Blvd., Edmond, OK 73013

Rating Category: Well-Supported by Research

Focus Area: Social Emotional Learning

Focus Population: Children, Teachers, Owners, Caregivers, Guardians, Administrators, Parents

Goals and Outcomes:

The overall goal of the proposed work is to improve the social emotional development of young children in Oklahoma in any licensed childcare program. We will reach this goal by ensuring Oklahoma early childhood practitioners, in partnership with families, have the knowledge, skills, disposition and supports, based on Pyramid Model practices, to nurture infants and young children’s social emotional well-being within their family, culture, and community. We will use a cohesive, effective approach to promoting young children’s social emotional development, addressing the needs of young children with challenging behaviors and special needs in an integrated model of tiered support that aligns with social and person skills concept area of Oklahoma’s early learning guidelines. For this project, the Oklahoma Association of Community Action Agencies, in partnership with the Pyramid Model Consortium and the Oklahoma Pyramid Model State Leadership Team, will address six objectives: 1) Enhancing the capacity of the early childhood workforce to adopt the Pyramid Model; 2) Increasing the number of high-quality Pyramid Model trainers and coaches; 3) Developing a high-fidelity program-wide/community-wide implementation sites; 4) Partnering with families to enhance skills and strategies to support their children; 5) Increasing children’s pro-social skills and reducing challenging behavior; 6) Preventing and severely limiting expulsion and suspension in early childhood settings. The Pyramid Model is a conceptual framework of evidence-based practices for promoting young children’s social and emotional competence and for preventing and addressing challenging behavior. It was developed 20 years ago with funding from the U.S. Departments of Health and Human and of Education, with an extensive research base on its efficacy and its implementation (using Implementation Science). The work will provide training, support and technical assistance, integrated with existing state initiatives (e.g., Project Hope work, trauma informed care) to ensure its success in Oklahoma. The proposal builds on Oklahoma’s Pyramid Model work already underway. The state created a cross-sector State Leadership Team to implement the Pyramid Model through professional development, local implementation sites, and a plan to evaluate the work. Our target population is children and families served by licensed childcare facilities in Oklahoma, including centers, Head Start/EHS, and family child care homes.

Brief Summary of target population and issues/challenges:

In targeting licensed child care, we will identify and recruit implementation sites from these facilities with a priority on those serving economically disenfranchised or historically marginalized communities. Young children’s behavioral health is a critical aspect of development and strongly associated with school readiness. The proposed work will address social emotional needs of young children by helping children develop skills to manage emotions and create strong relationships with adults and peers, skills highlighted in Oklahoma’s Early Learning Guidelines. But some children struggle. Up to 15% of preschoolers have behavior problems; percentages are higher for children living in poverty or with disabilities. Implicit bias in some settings lead to a disproportionate number of children of color, specifically black boys, being expelled or suspended. Our approach to address social emotional needs of young children is based on the Pyramid Model because it represents a compelling research-based approach to promote social emotional competence in young children. It includes practices that address cultural factors influencing social emotional development and support diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. These practices, identified through a systematic review of the research, align to the model’s three levels creating a multi-tiered system of support. The Pyramid Model provides a program-wide/community-wide approach. Using a concrete implementation process, informed by Implementation Science (their lead researcher called the Pyramid Model among the best examples of implementation), targeted child care licensed facilities will develop the capacity to train and coach staff to fidelity on the practices and measure their implementation and outcomes to assure success. Our confidence in this approach is based 20 years of work, preparing 35,000 trainers and 15,000 coaches, training 750,000 providers, and reaching over 5 million children. The work has been replicated, sustained, and scaled up across every kind of early childhood setting, in 35 states and 50 countries.

Rated by another Clearinghouse: Unknown

Conducted Research:

The Pyramid Model practices were initially identified and validated by faculty from two national technical assistance centers (Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning [CSEFEL] and Technical Assistance Center on Social Emotional Intervention for Young Children [TACSEI]) to provide early educators with guidance on the use of evidence-based practices to promote social-emotional competence and prevent or address challenging behavior. In the design of the Pyramid Model framework, the developers were intentional in identifying practices that had evidence for promoting the social, emotional, and behavioral competence of all children and included practices related to the design and implementation of interventions for children with persistent challenging behavior. The Pyramid Model was not designed as a curriculum per se. Instead, the model provides guidance on how to implement the evidence-based practices in the delivery of universal promotion, secondary prevention, and tertiary individualized approaches to intervention. The practices reflect an embedded instruction approach (Snyder et al., 2018), which means instruction and practice on social, emotional, and behavioral skills are embedded in ongoing classroom activities and routines. The Pyramid Model organizes evidence-based practices in promotion, prevention, and intervention tiers with the recommendation that all children receive social-emotional promotion practices and robust instruction in social-emotional learning. In the context of that supportive environment, teachers are prepared to provide some children with additional systematic instruction on targeted social-emotional skills, and with individualized intervention to the few children who engage in persistent challenging behavior. Evidence exists that indicates Pyramid Model practices influence children’s social-emotional competence and positive behavioral outcomes in multiple studies examining practices individually or as part of manualized interventions (e.g., Dunlap, Strain, Lee, Joseph, & Leech, 2018; Sutherland et al., 2018). The Pyramid Model was also evaluated as an entire process in a randomized controlled trial that examined classroom-wide implementation in public preschool classrooms for children with and without disabilities, which was conducted with 40 preschool classroom teachers and 494 children within programs in Tennessee and Florida (Hemmeter, Snyder, Fox, & Algina, 2016). After a baseline wave of measurement, teachers were randomized and received a professional development intervention comprised of training workshops, implementation guides and materials, and in-classroom coaching related to Pyramid Model implementation or were in a business-as-usual PD condition. Teachers’ classroom-wide implementation of Pyramid Model practices was associated with improved ratings of social skills and challenging behavior for both the focal and non- focal children. Subsequent clinical studies, many published in peer-reviewed journals, have followed supporting the impact on teachers practices and child change (see reference list below). The Pyramid Model has been recognized by many states as an evidence-based approach to promoting young children’s social emotional competence and has been included in their SAMHSA funded Project Launch efforts to promote young children’s social emotional and behavioral wellness as well as other state efforts such as QRIS and professional development recognition systems. Program-Wide implementation of the Pyramid Model (also referred to as Program-wide Positive Behavior Support) is a model of School-Wide Positive Behavior Intervention and Support (PBIS) that is designed specifically for the unique contexts of early childhood programs (Fox, Carta, Strain, Dunlap, & Hemmeter, 2010; Fox & Hemmeter, 2009; Hemmeter, Fox, & Doubet, 2006; Hemmeter, Fox, Jack, Broyles, & Doubet, 2007) (see for more information). PBIS is a systems approach to establishing the social culture and behavioral supports needed for all students in a program to achieve both social and academic success. PBIS is not a packaged curriculum, but an approach that defines core elements that can be achieved through a variety of strategies that are linked to the three-tiered promotion, prevention, intervention model (Dunlap, Kincaid, Horner, Knoster, & Bradshaw, 2014). Randomized evaluations of the SWPBS have been conducted by multiple investigators and demonstrate notable outcomes for student learning and behavior.

Based on research and evaluation data, programs that have adopted this model have experienced the following:

  • Reductions in child challenging behavior

  • Increases in children’s social skills

  • Increased satisfaction of program staff and families

  • Reduced turnover in the program

  • Increases in teachers’ competence and confidence in the support of children

  • Changes in classroom and program climate

  • Sustained implementation of the Pyramid Model

References supporting impact of Pyramid Model on teacher practices and child outcomes, and for those listed in this section:

Blair, K. S. C., Fox, L., & Lentini, R. (2010). Use of positive behavior support to address the challenging behavior of young children within a community early childhood program. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 30(2), 68-79

Dunlap, G., Kincaid, D., Horner, R., Knoster, T., & Bradshaw, C. (2014). A comment on the term “Positive Behavior Support.” Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 16(3), 133-136.

(Video) Building Positive Relationships with Young Children (supporting social emotional development)

Dunlap, G., Strain, P., Lee, J. K., Joseph, J., & Leech, N. (2018). A randomized controlled evaluation of Prevent-Teach-Reinforce for young children. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 37(4), 195–205. 0271121417724874

Fox, L., Dunlap, G., Hemmeter, M. L., Joseph, G., & Strain, P. (2003). The Teaching Pyramid: A model for supporting social emotional competence and preventing challenging behavior in young children. Young Children, 58(4), 48-52.

Fox, L., & Hemmeter, M. L. (2009). A program-wide model for supporting social emotional development and addressing challenging behavior in early childhood settings. In W. Sailor, G. Dunlap, G. Sugai, & R. Horner (Eds.) (pp. 177-202), Handbook of Positive Behavior Support. New York, NY: Springer.

Fox, L., Carta, J., Strain, P. S., Dunlap, G., and Hemmeter, M. L. (2010). Response to Intervention and the Pyramid Model. Infants and Young Children, 23, 3-14.

Fox, L., Hemmeter, M. L., & Snyder, P. S. (2014). Teaching Pyramid Observation Tool for Preschool Classrooms (TPOT™), Research Edition. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes.

Fox, L., Hemmeter, M., Snyder, P., Perez Binder, D., & Clarke, S. (2011). Coaching early childhood special educators to implement a comprehensive model for promoting young children’s social competence. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 31, 178-192.

Hemmeter, M.L., & Fox, L., (2009). The Teaching Pyramid: A model for the implementation of classroom practices within a program-wide approach to behavior support. NHSA Dialogue, 12, 133-147.

Hemmeter, M. L., Fox, L. & Doubet, S. (2006). Together we can: An early childhood center’s program wide approach to addressing challenging behavior. Young Exceptional Children Monograph Series, 8, 1-14.

Hemmeter, M. L., Fox, L., Jack, S., Broyles, L. & Doubet, S. (2007). A program-wide model of positive behavior support in early childhood settings. Journal of Early Intervention

Relevant Published Articles with brief summary:

Hemmeter, M. L., Snyder, P., Fox, L., Algina, J., Hardy, J. K., Bishop, C., & Veguilla, M. (2020). Corollary child outcomes from the Pyramid Model professional development intervention efficacy trial. Early Childhood Research Quarterly 54 (2021) 204–218


Professional development (PD) focused on social, emotional, and behavioral teaching practices has been identified as a critical need for preschool teachers. The Pyramid Model for Promoting Social Emotional Competence is a multi-tiered framework of evidence-informed teaching practices. Previous studies have shown that PD, which includes workshops, implementation supports, and controlled doses of Practice- Based Coaching, is associated with teachers’ improved fidelity of implementation of Pyramid Model practices. Some studies have shown corollary improvements in child outcomes. The present study reports corollary child outcomes from a cluster randomized efficacy trial examining effects of a PD intervention versus business-as-usual (BAU) PD. Ninety two teachers and 997 children in these teachers’ classrooms, including 250 focal children at elevated risk for poor social, emotional, or behavioral outcomes, participated. Data on social, emotional, behavioral, and other developmental outcomes were collected pre-intervention and post-intervention for all children via teacher-completed rating scales. Data for focal children were collected on social interactions and challenging behavior using an observational coding system and for other developmental outcomes through direct child assessment. Results showed statistically significant and noteworthy effects for children whose teachers were in the PD intervention versus BAU PD for both non-focal and focal children’s social skills and challenging behavior. By post-intervention, focal children whose teachers were in the PD intervention condition showed greater rates of social interaction than their peers in BAU teachers’ classrooms. No statistically significant or noteworthy differences were found for other child development outcomes. Mediation of treatment effects based on teachers’ Pyramid Model practice implementation was evidenced for social and behavioral child outcomes. Moderator analyses for select teacher and classroom variables showed differential treatment effects for non-focal children’s challenging behavior in classrooms with higher child-to-adult ratios. Implications for future research and practice are discussed.

Hemmeter, M. L., Snyder, P., Fox, L., & Algina, J. (2016). The efficacy of the Pyramid Model: Effects on teachers, classrooms and children. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 36, 133-146. DOI: 10.1177/0271121416653386


We conducted a potential efficacy trial examining the effects of classroom-wide implementation of the Pyramid Model for Promoting Young Children’s Social-Emotional Competence on teachers’ implementation of Pyramid Model practices and children’s social-emotional skills and challenging behavior. Participants were 40 preschool teachers and 494 children. Using a randomized controlled design, 20 teachers received a professional development (PD) intervention to support their implementation of the practices. The 20 teachers in the control condition received workshops after all study related data were collected. Teachers who received PD significantly improved their implementation of Pyramid Model practices relative to control teachers. Children in intervention teachers’ classrooms were rated as having better social skills and fewer challenging behaviors relative to children in control teachers’ classrooms. Exploratory analyses showed that children at elevated risk for behavior disorders in intervention teachers’ classrooms had improvements in their observed social interaction skills relative to similar children in control teachers’ classrooms.

Lise Fox, Phillip S. Strain & Glen Dunlap (2021) Preventing the use of preschool suspension and expulsion: implementing the pyramid model, Preventing School Failure: Alternative Education for Children and Youth, 65:4, 312-322, DOI: 10.1080/1045988X.2021.1937026


This paper describes the approach used by two demonstration sites to implement Pyramid Model Practices at fidelity and address behavioral issues without the use of suspension and expulsion. The article describes the critical features of implementation used by public school preschool centers to improve the implementation of evidence- based social and emotional teaching practices by classroom personnel and the leadership strategies used to examine implementation fidelity and outcomes. Evaluation data are provided to demonstrate the positive outcomes achieved in the programs and to illustrate the potential of this approach for addressing issues related to inappropriate discipline practices.

Promote equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging:

Implementation of the Pyramid Model and its attendant practices represents a strategy to promote equity, diversity, inclusion and belonging. It does so by reducing the incidents of challenging behaviors, ensuring all children are engaged and learning in every environment. It plays mitigating role in reducing suspension and expulsion especially for populations that are disparately impacted by such practices. The results of effective implementation of the Pyramid Model are more inclusive classrooms where all children belong and become friends through the development and practice of friendship and problem-solving skills. Estimates of the prevalence of challenging behavior in young children indicate that social and emotional challenges occur in approximately 10% to 20% of children between the ages of 2 and 5 (Brauner & Stephens, 2006; Egger & Angold, 2006; Lavigne, LeBailly, Hopkins, Gouze, & Binns, 2009; Wichstrøm et al., 2012). For children with disabilities, the prevalence is higher with some researchers reporting rates of behavior problems as being 3 to 7 times the rate of children who are typically developing (Baker, Blacher, Crnic, & Edelbrock, 2002; Dykens, 2000). Of particular concern are research findings that indicate a continued trajectory of social, behavioral, and academic problems when social and emotional challenges are not resolved during the early childhood years (e.g., Brennan, Shaw, Dishion, & Wilson, 2012; Bulotsky-Shearer & Fantuzzo, 2011; Hauser-Cram & Woodman, 2016). The increased frequency with which young children entering school display challenging behavior has resulted in an interest in providing interventions to children in the early years to promote social emotional competence and prevent challenging behavior (Dougherty et al., 2015; Dunlap et al., 2006; National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, 2009). Unfortunately, early childhood educators have reported they feel unequipped to meet the needs of children exhibiting social emotional skill deficits or persistent challenging behavior (Kaufmann & Wischmann, 1999), particularly when the child has a disability (Reinke, Stormont, Herman, Puri, & Goel, 2011). A national survey of teachers in state-funded pre-kindergarten programs found that pre-school children were being expelled at 3 times the rate of school-aged children (Gilliam, 2005). Recent data from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights reported that more than 8,000 children were suspended from public preschool programs in 2011–2012 with Black children representing the majority of those suspensions (U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights Data, 2014). When surveyed, early childhood educators express a frustration with lack of preparation about how to intervene effectively with children who have persistent challenging behavior and a desire for implementation sup- port focused on practices to promote children’s social-emotional competence and address challenging behavior (Reinke et al., 2011; Snell, Berlin, Voorhees, Stanton- Chapman, & Hadden, 2012). Data from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights raised concerns about the widespread use of expulsion and suspension in early childhood programs and the evidence of gender and racial disparities (United States Department of Education, 2016). The following data were reported by public preschool programs to the Office of Civil Rights for the 2013–2014 school year:

  • Black preschool children were 3.6 times more likely to receive one or more out-of-school suspensions as white preschool children.

  • While boys represented 54% of preschool enrollment, they represented 78% of preschool children receiving one or more out-of-school suspensions.

  • Black boys represented 19% of the male preschool enrollment, but 45% of male preschool children receiving one or more out-of-school suspensions.

  • Black girls represented 20% of female preschool enrollment, but 54% of female preschool children receiving one or more out-of-school suspensions

In recognition of the severity of the issue, the US Departments of Education and Health and Human Services issued a Policy Statement on Expulsion and Suspension Policies in Early Childhood Settings (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Education, 2014) that provided recommendations to States and local early childhood programs to prevent and severely limit expulsions and suspensions in early learning settings ( guid/school-discipline/ policy-statementece-expulsions-suspensions.pdf). The federal policy statement recommended that early childhood programs develop preventive guidance and discipline practices and procedures, develop clear policies related to suspension and expulsion, strengthen the capacity of the workforce to prevent suspension and expulsion, and use data to set goals and monitor progress toward reducing the use of suspension and expulsion. The policy statement described how the implementation of a positive behavior intervention (i.e., the Pyramid Model) and supports framework might be used in programs to increase the skills of early educators in meeting the social, emotional, and behavioral health needs of young children. The statement also recommended that program staff receive training and support for the use of culturally responsive teaching practices and approaches to identify and address bias. To support states and early childhood programs in this effort, The US Departments of Education and Health and Human Services have funded the Technical Assistance Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) at the University of Oregon in partnership with the University of South Florida and the University of Colorado Denver to implement the Pyramid Equity Project with Preschool Development Grant national activity funds, http://www2. ed/earlylearning/files/fact-sheet-pyramidequity-project.pdf. The Pyramid Equity Project (PEP) developed and disseminated an effective approach for the promotion of social competence in young children and the prevention of suspension, expulsion, and discipline disparities in early learning programs. PEP was developed to deepen and improve Pyramid Model work so it would be able to address equity, diversity, inclusion and belonging. The PEP tools, materials, and procedures were designed to address implicit bias, implement culturally responsive practices, and use data systems to uncover potential discipline equity concerns. These tools, materials and procedures will be included in the Pyramid Model work we are planning for Oklahoma. One example is “The Pyramid Model Equity Coaching Guide” which provides the classroom coach with a reflection tool to examine the implementation of Pyramid Model practices through the lens of culturally responsive practices and identification of implicit bias. The guide is used within the collaborative coaching partnership and ongoing coaching activities to identify when there are equity concerns related to practice implementation. In other words, addressing equity is intentional, focused and deliberate.

Further information on the Pyramid Equity Project (2016) can be accessed here.


We proposed to implement the Pyramid Model in targeted early childhood sites across Oklahoma with a priority on those serving economically disenfranchised or historically marginalized communities. These will be child care licensed locations and include child care centers, Head Start, Early Head Start and family child care homes. Using the existing Oklahoma Pyramid Model State Leadership Team, we will support the development of these sites to full implementation, supported by training, coaching, and data collection. The focus of the site work will be developing internal capacity in these sites to sustain and scale up the work in the face of personnel changes and other disruptions that affect early childhood settings. These sites will form the pillars for community-wide and state-wide scale up where programs and communities embrace the same vision of supportive environments are every place where children are and provide the supports for children to behave and grow in healthy ways.

Our approach to implementation is based on the rationale that a program’s capacity to adopt and sustain evidence-based practices (EBPs) should be guided by implementation science (Fixsen, Naoom, Blasé, Friedman, & Wallace, 2005). Implementation science theorizes that EBPs need to be defined in terms of their outcomes and the variables that affect implementation and sustainability. The key components within implementation science are referred to as implementation drivers, which are critical to the successful and sustainable implementation of programs, practices, and innovations (Metz & Bartley, 2012). The implementation drivers and strategies of the Pyramid Model are (a) a state leadership team (i.e., leadership drivers), (b) demonstration sites (i.e., leadership, competency, and organizational drivers), (c) implementation communities (i.e., competency drivers), (d) data collection (i.e., organizational drivers), and (e) systematic partnerships (OPSR, Potts Family Foundation and state departments of Human Service and Education). This state capacity building approach has been used in over 35 states for adoption of the Pyramid Model and 4 states for adoption of the DEC Recommended Practices. Our state implementation and scale-up approach is guided by the State Benchmarks of Quality (BoQ) and incorporates what we know about stages, steps and key elements of implementation science, including exploration, installation, implementation and scale-up at both the state and program levels. Throughout the grant we will be continuing to promote statewide implementation through the work of the Oklahoma Pyramid Model State Leadership Team.

Evaluation Plan:

To evaluate this effort, we propose to apply a comprehensive framework and data collection system to using the Results-Based Accountability approach. This evaluation system includes:

  • Inform common reporting efforts

  • Serve as the foundation of ongoing evaluation efforts

    (Video) Building Emotional Literacy in Preschoolers

  • Continuously improve program content and process

  • Demonstrate success of existing programs

Results-Based Accountability recommends focusing on target population impacts and on performance measurement. In other words, we will evaluate the project by answering two basic questions: Did we do what we said we were planning to [performance based measures]? And did it make a difference [what were the changes in our target populations of young children and their families]. Using that as a basis, here is a deeper look at results and indicators we will be using.

Results and Indicators

The results and indicators that follow demonstrate both the significance of early childhood well-being and the implementation process described above. There is also a “targeted results statement” that focuses the scope of this effort to support young children’s behavioral health. Overarching Results Statement: All children live in stable family and community environments, are safe, healthy, and ready to lead successful lives Targeted Results Statement: By age 6, all children have the social and emotional competence to succeed in school and life. Since research indicates that improving social emotional competence has a positive impact on literacy and other cognitive dimension we include those.

Six indicators are associated with this result statement:

Indicator 1: The percent of students who meet or exceed the standard on a Kindergarten readiness assessment scores (social/emotional domain if possible)

Indicator 2: Suspensions and Expulsions

Indicator 3: Percent of infants and children (0 through 5) with health insurance. (Access to health care includes mental health for Medicaid recipients and strongly links overall health outcomes.)

Indicator 4: Reading Mastery Test Score - Grade 3 or earliest reading mastery test

Indicator 5: Percent of infants and children (0 through 5) living in households below poverty.

The Results Based Accountability approach can be organized into 5 Domain that map well onto the six desired outcomes established by the Oklahoma Pyramid Model State Leadership Team (PMSLT). Our planned evaluation aligns with a national model that includes dozens of indicators that can assess population change across the 5 domains. Following are the five domains (sans indicators) to allow for comparison with the Oklahoma outcomes:

DOMAIN 1. Early Child care and Pre-school experience

DOMAIN 2. Provider Skills

DOMAIN 3. System Capacity

DOMAIN 4. Children’s Behavioral Health

DOMAIN 5. Family Engagement and Partnership

The six Oklahoma PMSLT outcomes (see

1) Enhance the capacity of workforce to adopt the Pyramid Model.

2) Increase the number of high quality Pyramid Model trainers and coaches.

3) Develop a cadre of high-fidelity program-wide and community-wide implementation sites.

4) Partner with families to enhance skills and strategies to support their children.

5) Increase children’s pro-social skills and reduce challenging behavior.

6) Prevent and limit expulsion and suspension in early childhood settings.

It is important to add that specific indicators in our evaluation will include Diversity, Equity and Inclusion measures including “risk ratios” such as:

  • Risk ratios for suspensions and expulsions

  • Risk ratios for NOT ready for K

  • Risk ratios for children not meeting or exceeding age-appropriate assessment standard for “language and literacy”

  • Risk ratios for children not meeting or exceeding age-appropriate standard for “cognition”

  • Comparison of % infants and young children improving on assessment at 12 and 24 months by race, ethnicity, and disability and overall

  • Risk ratios for having restraints applied or experiencing seclusion

  • Risk ratios for English Language Learners not in dual language programming

As part of the project, a national database will be accessible to Oklahoma that will help track impact around the population and individual domain areas to ensure movement is made across these areas, as well as to inform local sites about needed modifications in their implementation practices to improve performance and outcome measures.


(Video) 5 Keys to Social and Emotional Learning Success

The Oklahoma Association of Community Action Agencies (OKACAA)/OK HS Collaboration Office will be the primary in-state hub for coordinating this project. OKACAA has a long history of supporting partnerships and early childhood initiatives in the state. Specifically, OKACAA will provide the following supports:

  • FTE from the OK Head Start Collaboration Director and additional staffing to support the implementation of the project.

  • Space for in-person training.

  • Technology for live stream of training.

  • HR/Accounting department to hire needed staff; take care of payroll; pay contractors.

  • Positive relationships with multiple partners to effectively coordinate across the state.

The work will be coordinated with activities and decisions made by the Oklahoma Pyramid Model State Leadership. That team, consisting of more than 20 members, providing cross sector representation from the early childhood system in Oklahoma including the Departments of Human Services and Education, OPSR, Oklahoma Child Care Resource and Referral, institutions of higher education and other entities.

The Pyramid Model Consortium will serve as the technical consultant to OKACAA as it does the work. The Pyramid Model Consortium consists of the founding members of the CSEFEL, TACSEI and the Pyramid Model. In addition, it is a partner on the current US Department of Education federal center known as the National Center on Pyramid Model Innovations. The Pyramid Model Consortium is comprised of a national cadre of over 80 national experts skilled in the areas of evidence-based practices for infants/toddlers and preschoolers in (a) nurturing and responsive environments, (b) high quality supportive environments, (c) targeted social emotional supports, and (d) intensive individualized interventions. For more than 20 years, the members who comprise the Pyramid Model Consortium (PMC) have supported the training of over 25,000 trainers and 15,000 coaches. These individuals have in turn trained an estimated 750,000 teachers, educators, providers and administrator reaching over a million children. The work of PMC members includes the development of the Practice Based Coaching (PBC) Model. PBC is a professional development strategy that uses a cyclical process. This process supports teachers’ use of effective teaching practices that lead to positive outcomes for children. PBC occurs in the context of collaborative partnerships. PMC members have supported the training of thousands of coaches using this evidence-based coaching approach.

Standards/Guidelines, Models, outcomes, programs:

From the beginning, the Pyramid Model in Oklahoma focused on state policy work to ensure that the Pyramid Model was available to EC programs across Oklahoma and built upon related statewide efforts. The Oklahoma State Leadership Team for the Pyramid Model is currently supported by Pyramid Model Consortium with support from the Oklahoma Partnership for School Readiness. As discussed above, our approach is based on evidence-validated. Specifically, we include our use of Results Based Accountability to provide a comprehensive evaluation; Implementation Science to provide multidimensional strategies that ensure implementation with fidelity, and a focus on sustainability and scale-up potentials; the use of Multi-Tiered Systems of Support which offers the theoretical framework for a “pyramid model” coupled with its proven efficacy as a public health model, and Practice Based Coaching as a core element to assure teacher behavior change in use of PM practices. The outcomes that focus on social emotional development align will with the Oklahoma Early Learning Guidelines, especially Standards 1 and 2 of the Social and Person Skills Concept Areas. In fact, the Oklahoma guidelines used CSEFEL (the center that developed by Pyramid Model) materials as a resource. In terms of the overall state implementation work, using the four phases of Implementation Science, for the past 18 months, Oklahoma has been actively engaged in the “Planning” stage. This stage involves a determination that there is a need to implement the model, a widespread commitment to implement the model, and the right resources to implement the model effectively. This stage has culminated in a decision to implement the Pyramid Model and a written implementation plan (or action plan) as a map for the work ahead. Currently, we are moving into the “Installation” stage of our work in Oklahoma. The activities during installation include preparing programs and their practitioners to use Pyramid Model strategies and practices in their early childhood settings. These activities are related to the selection of Program Implementation Coaches, implementation programs, and staff; arranging for training on the Pyramid Model practices for each group; developing coaching resources; and establishing an infrastructure for evaluation (e.g., data systems, selection of program data coordinators). Major outcomes of this stage include the selection and support of the Professional Development Network of Program Implementation Coaches, early start-up of the Implementation Sites and their Program Leadership Teams, the beginning of training and coaching for them, and establishing data systems. Sustainability planning in this stage includes looking ahead and predicting the resources needed as additional programs and services implement the Pyramid Model (e.g., additional trainers and coaches, expanded data systems). This Clearinghouse opportunity will allow us to move deeply into the “Implementation” stage. This stage is about actually doing the work, moving from Initial Implementation to Full Implementation. Initial implementation is characterized by high levels of coaching and support for Program Leadership Teams, practitioner coaches, and practitioners. Everyone is new to their roles, and the first miles of this journey can be filled with detours and unexpected barriers that must be negotiated and overcome. Program Leadership Teams are meeting regularly, establishing data systems, and providing training and coaching. Initial implementation in sites might involve implementing with high fidelity in parts of the program, such as in a few classrooms of a Head Start, public preschool, childcare, community preschool, or early intervention (EI) agency or service area while having a vision for program-wide implementation. The Pyramid Model uses a tiered model of T/TA ranging from (a) providing information to everyone through a website to (b) intensive individualized support and assistance to specific individuals, programs, and communities. The TA approach was adapted from Blasé (2009) who described two levels of TA in promoting the adoption of EBP: (a) basic: providing timely information about the practice to promote readiness for use of EBP and (b) intensive support that requires considerable planning, frequent communication, on-site work, collaboration at multiple levels, coaching, and both process and outcome evaluation efforts at several levels (e.g., setting, organization, state) to build capacity and achieve systemic change. One key goal of the Pyramid Model is to build internal capacity of states, programs and communities. A multi-level approach creates a network of support within each program and builds program- wide sustainability. The intensive TA includes program-wide support to leadership teams and administrators. Classroom and individual child supports are provided through Pyramid Model Coaches in the program with guidance from Pyramid Model staff. T/TA from Pyramid Model staff is provided to each site. T/TA includes support for the administrative team to assist in developing sustainable practices, policies, and expectations. This includes developing data systems to drive program development, teacher professional development plans, and support for the investment in Pyramid Model. Programs also receive support in delivering and maintaining a parent training component and extending Pyramid Model into the community. The parent training utilized is called Positive Solutions for Families and includes facilitated workshops with small groups of families to support their use of positive parenting practices during family routines. Pyramid Model staff support diminishes over time as the program’s fidelity of implementation and sustainability becomes evident.

Training materials and manuals:

Much of the material developed by the Pyramid Model has been created with federal funding, and is therefore freely available in the public domain. These materials can be downloaded from the Pyramid Model Consortium website at or the National Center on Pyramid Model Innovations website at This includes training material for: (a) Infant Toddler caregivers, (b) Preschool providers, (c) Practice Based Coaches, (d) Program Coaches, (e) Family Engagement/Family Service Leads, and (f) Home Visitors.

On-line ePyramid Modules have also been developed to support self-paced learning in the following areas:

  • Infant Toddler Practices

  • Preschool Practices

  • Birth – 5 Practices

  • Trauma Informed Care and the Pyramid Model

  • Culturally Responsive Practices/Reducing Implicit Bias

  • Wellness: Taking Care of Yourself

Through a partnership between the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, ProSolutions, and Pyramid Model Consortium, all of these courses are currently available and/or in process to be available at no cost charge to the workforce in Oklahoma.

Additional material has been developed and published in partnership with Paul Brookes Publishing. These copyrighted tools (including costs) are included below: “Unpacking the Pyramid Model” - Created by the Pyramid Model developers and experts with extensive training experience, this is the first book to provide a comprehensive, step by step overview of the Pyramid Model for children ages 2–5. Early childhood educators will get a complete overview of the framework, plus in depth guidance, evidence based strategies, and helpful checklists for implementing all tiers of the Pyramid Model: universal, targeted, and individualized (cost $49.95)

“Teaching Pyramid Observation Tool (TPOT)” - Developed by highly respected creators of the evidence-based Pyramid Model for Promoting Social Emotional Competence in Infants and Young Children, the TPOT™ tool measures how well teachers are implementing the model in classrooms enrolling children 2–5 years of age. (Cost $55 per manual plus $7 per protocol) “Teaching Pyramid Infant Toddler Observation Scale (TPITOS)” - Developed by authors of the Infant Toddler Pyramid Model training, this tool measures how well teachers are implementing the model in classrooms enrolling children birth - 3 years of age. (Cost $55 per manual plus $7 per protocol) “Prevent Teach Reinforce for Young Children (PTR-YC)” This guide helps behavioral specialists and teams efficiently resolve persistent behavior challenges in early childhood settings with this practical guide. (Cost $45 per manual)

“Prevent Teach Reinforce - Families (PTR-F)” The popular, research-based Prevent-TeachReinforce (PTR) model is used in schools and childcare settings nationwide to address challenging behaviors in children with and without disabilities. Now, with the Prevent-Teach-Reinforce for Families (PTR-F) model in this accessible guidebook, you can use this proven approach with families to help them resolve their child's behavior problems in their own homes and communities. (Cost $45 per manual)

An additional toolkit is available to support implementation of the Pyramid Model practices. A classroom kit is available for $229 and includes:

The toolkit provides an alternative to have an easy to use, ready access to these materials. Similar materials noted above are available to download that includes the resources to create these materials on your own at no charge from the National Center on Pyramid Model Innovations website.

Implementation cost:

On average, the cost per program-wide site is $5,000 for the first year of implementation and $3,000 per program for the following 1 – 2 years of implementation. These costs cover training, technical assistance and onsite coaching. Material costs are in addition to this amount.

A network of Program Coaches and Trainers in Oklahoma will be developed. Initial work has begun in this area with approximately 40 individuals being trained and supported through the Oklahoma Department of Human Services. Additional expertise will be added to grow this cohort. Estimated cost is approximately $25,000 in Year 1. Implementation of the Pyramid Model is based on a Program-wide approach. Program-wide implementation of the Pyramid Model refers to a systemic effort within a program for Pyramid Model implementation fidelity. In program-wide implementation, a leadership team guides the implementation process and develops the supports and infrastructure needed to ensure that implementation of the Pyramid Model can occur within the classrooms and services provided to children and their families. The Leadership Team, with representation from program administrators and practitioners, is focused on the ongoing process of supporting the implementation of the Pyramid Model and using data-based decision-making to guide implementation efforts and monitor outcomes. Program-wide implementation might also be called Program-Wide Positive Behavior Intervention and Support (PW-PBIS), Early Childhood Positive Behavior Support (EC-PBS) or a Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) to address social, emotional, and behavioral needs.

The program-wide implementation model ensures that programs are attending to both the implementation of evidence-based practices and the development of the infrastructure to support the durable implementation of those practices. Programs that have used this approach have experienced the following:

(Video) Supporting the Social Emotional Needs of Every Child and Every Educator

  • Reductions in child challenging behavior

  • Increases in children’s social skills

  • Increased satisfaction of program staff and families

  • Reduced turnover in the program

  • Increases in teacher competence and confidence in the support of children

  • Changes in classroom and program climate

  • Sustained implementation of the Pyramid Model

Components of the Program-Wide Approach

  • Leadership Team The leadership team meets monthly and guides the implementation of the program-wide approach. The team is comprised of a program administrator, representation from the teaching staff, an individual who can provide coaching and support to teachers, the individual who serves as a behavior specialist (some individuals might fill more than one of these roles), and a family member. The team ensures that a system is developed to provide individualized behavior supports to children with challenges, professional development and support to teachers, a plan for family engagement, and uses data to make decisions as they guide implementation.

  • Staff Buy-In All staff become involved in the model (e.g., cook, teaching assistant, and teachers) and must agree that they are willing to participate. The leadership team monitors and supports staff buy-in on an ongoing basis.

  • Family Engagement A variety of mechanisms are used to establish partnerships with families in the implementation of the model by establishing collaborative partnerships with families, sharing information, providing families with information and support in guiding children’s development of social and emotional skills, and collaboratively teaming to support individual children.

  • Program-Wide Expectations The adoption of program-wide expectations provides a shared focus and shared language for describing behavior expectations to children, staff, and families. Program-wide expectations are posted in the program and classrooms and are provided to families. Staff acknowledge engagement in the expectations by providing developmentally appropriate feedback and reinforcement to children.

  • Classroom Implementation of the Pyramid ModelTeachers are individually assessed using a fidelity observation tool and then action planning occurs to identify goals for supporting teachers in reaching fidelity criteria

  • Staff Professional Development and Support PlansAll staff must have the training and coaching/support needed to effectively implement the Pyramid practices. The leadership team also develops strategies to provide ongoing support to staff as they implement the model.

  • Behavior Support Procedures The leadership team develops policies and procedures for providing support to staff to address challenging behavior. This includes providing a mechanism for support in crisis situations, developing a problem-solving process for children with emerging challenges, and providing a system for identifying children who need a behavior support plan developed through a team driven process.

  • Data-Based Decision-MakingData-based decision-making is a pivotal component of the program-wide approach. The team will gather and review data on implementation and outcomes using tools provided by the Center.

What are Considerations for Selecting Sites for Program-Wide Implementation?

  • Willing to serve as an exemplar in the state of high fidelity implementation of the Pyramid Model

  • Will be guided by a leadership team that is invested in the model (e.g., program administrator and selected staff)

  • Must have access to an internal coach whose role is to build the capacity of practitioners in the program

  • Must have access to behavior support for children with persistent challenging behavior through an internal person on their team, mental health consultant, or behavior specialist

  • Willing to change policies, procedures, family engagement, teacher support, and professional development practices for implementation fidelity and sustainability

  • Willing to host other programs and personnel who wish to see/learn more about the Pyramid Model

What is involved in the Program-Wide Implementation Process?

  • The Leadership team will attend a multiple day training on program wide implementation to develop their implementation plan

  • Staff in the program receive training on the Pyramid Model and coaching for implementation within their classrooms

  • A coach receives training on the use of Practice-Based Coaching and how to support staff as they begin Pyramid Model implementation

  • A behavior specialist receives training on how to guide the individualized, intensive intervention process

  • The majority of staff (80%) agree that they want to be a part of program-wide implementation, although the program might begin their efforts in a few classrooms initially

  • The program collects ongoing data on program implementation and outcomes, coaching implementation and outcomes, and child implementation and outcomes.

Additional Information:

Our proposal is based on taking well-established practices and a powerful implementation model and adopting it to fit Oklahoma’s unique context. The partnership between Oklahoma Association of Community Action Agencies/Oklahoma Head Start Collaboration Office and the Pyramid Model Consortium provides the ideal opportunity to build capacity in Oklahoma using our own talent coupled with national experts.

OACAA will serve as the lead agency to ensure that the effort can be sustain/replicated long past the initial funding offered by the Clearinghouse. A heavy reliance on Implementation Science will ensure the best chance at building sustained infrastructure that supports the ultimate goal of enhancing the social emotional development of all infants and young children In Oklahoma.

The Pyramid Model addresses multiple priorities for the Clearinghouse by being both Researched-Based and Practices-Based while targeting the area of social emotional development. Dozens of peer-reviewed articles have been published documenting the impact on quality early childhood programming with high fidelity Pyramid Model implementation.

(Video) Developing Emotional Intelligence Alongside our Kids

Clear program goals and outcomes have been articulated by the Oklahoma Pyramid Model State Leadership Team. The model has been developed over the past two decades to ensure efforts have an ultimate effect of leading to both family and child outcomes. These outcomes are based on clearly addressing identified needs. This includes both supporting the social emotional/behavioral health needs of young children, along with a direct focus on equity, diversity, inclusion and belonging indicators.

Now is an opportune moment for the new Clearinghouse to move Pyramid Model implementation forward in Oklahoma and showcase the value of bringing to scale research-based practices.


1. Smart Hearts: Social and Emotional Learning Overview
2. Supporting Positive Social-Emotional Climates in Out-of-School Time – Part I
3. ECE Workforce Responsive Relationships: Improving Knowledge and Care for Young Children - AD
4. How Early Childhood Experiences Affect Lifelong Health and Learning
(Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University)
5. Six Core Strengths for Healthy Child Development: An Overview
(The ChildTrauma Academy Channel)
6. The Impact of Social and Emotional Learning
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