Date of Conferral







Timothy Lionetti


It is estimated that 9-14% of children from birth to age 5 experience social and emotional problems that may significantly affect their ability to learn later in life and students of any age may experience an array of problems resulting in difficulty learning. Although interventions are available to address these issues within the school context, government funding for programs is often limited to those that are evidence based. Student Assistance Programs (SAPs) address a variety of barriers to learning but many are not supported by empirical evidence. The purpose of the study was to determine if Breakthrough, a specific SAP, had a significant effect on the dependent variables of grade point average, attendance, and behavioral referrals among N = 727 public school students in Grades 9-12. The independent variables were completion or noncompletion of the program, time, and grade level. This quantitative study used a systems perspective, nonequivalent control group design. The statistical analyses performed were a mixed ANOVA and a generalized estimating equation. The interaction of treatment, time, and grade level were found to be significant on attendance, and the interaction between treatment and time on was found to be significant for attendance. The main effect of time was found to be significant on grade point average, attendance, and behavioral referrals. The main effect of treatment was found to be significant on number of behavioral referrals. Increasing the types of supports for school-aged students may bring positive social change by allowing for higher academic achievement and by intervening with issues that may follow students into adulthood such as mental illness and substance abuse.