Promising Programs – Behavioral Modification and Reinforcement Program

Type Target Age Group Setting Outcomes
Delinquency & Recidivism Middle School Classroom Less self-reported delinquency, school-based problems and unemployment
Fewer county court records than peers


The Behavioral Monitoring and Reinforcement Program is a school-based, early intervention program borne from earlier work on behavior modification and teaching thinking skills. The program, which was originally called the Early Secondary Intervention Program, targets seventh and eighth graders and includes the following components:

  • Collecting Up-To-Date Information about Each Student's Actions. Experimenters enter the school each week, record the daily attendance and discipline referrals of program participants, and complete individual "Weekly Report Cards" for each student based on information gained in teacher interviews. During these interviews, teachers are asked whether students had done the following things during the previous week: (a) came to class on time, (b) brought materials needed for classwork, (c) done the classwork, (d) exhibited satisfactory behavior, and (e) done homework, if it was assigned.
  • Providing Systematic Feedback. Experimenters meet weekly with students in small groups (five to seven students). The "Weekly Report Cards" are distributed and discussed individually. Positive teacher ratings are praised and negative ratings lead to discussions of what the student can do to improve that teacher's impression of his or her behavior. Parents are often contacted throughout the program, by letter, telephone, and home visits, to inform them about their child's progress.
  • Attaching Value to the Student's Actions. Students receive a point for every day that they come to school, arrive on time, and receive no disciplinary action, and for each positive rating they receive on their "Weekly Report Cards." At the end of meetings, students are also given points for obeying specific meeting rules, such as not laughing at or criticizing other people, not touching other people or their possessions, and not talking while others are talking. Students accumulate their points during the year to earn an extra school trip of their own choosing. Following the two-year intervention, students are invited to biweekly booster sessions, which follow the same format as the original intervention.

Target Population

The program is designed for students who are capable of graduating from high school, but whose teachers fear they will not graduate. The students need to have reasonably good attendance (2-3 days per week) because the program is a school-based program.

For more Information or to find Technical Assistance, visit:

Dr. Brenna Hafer Bry, Ph.D.
Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology
Rutgers University
bbry@rci.rutgers.educreate new email

(Excerpt taken from information provided by Brenna H. Bry, Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology, Rutgers University, Piscataway, NJ: "Program Fact Sheet.")

Forty seventh graders were selected from a class of 555 students in a large, urban, racially mixed junior high school. Selected students met at least two of the three following criteria:

(1) low academic motivation,
(2) family problems, and
(3) frequent or serious discipline referrals.

Students were randomly assigned to either a treatment or control group. Students' tardiness, class preparedness, class performance, classroom behavior, school attendance, and disciplinary referrals were monitored weekly for two years.

For the one-year follow-up study, 30 students from an urban school system plus 36 students from a suburban school system were evaluated. Information was collected from school records and through structured, self-reported interviews with study participants. The interview included questions about employment, alcohol use, drug use, and criminal behavior. Fewer that 50 percent of the intervention subjects attended the booster sessions offered during this 12-month period.

Sixty students from the one-year follow-up study participated in the five-year follow-up study. Arrest records were used to assess participant involvement with the criminal justice system.

Compared to the control group, experimental students had significantly better grades and attendance at the end of the program. However, these positive effects did not appear until the students had been in the program for two years.

In the year after the intervention ended, experimental students displayed significantly fewer problem behaviors at school than did controls.

Eighteen months following the intervention, experimental students reported significantly less substance abuse and criminal behavior.

Five years after the program ended, experimental youth were 66 percent less likely to have a juvenile record than were controls.

Provided by program developer Dr. Brenna Hafer Bry, Ph.D., September 2010

  • Has this program been replicated at other sites? If so, how many and where are they?
    In the late 1970's and early 1980's, BMRP (which then was named Early Secondary Intervention Program) was implemented in about 20 New Jersey schools by me or by facilitators whom I trained. I also trained in Florida and have sent an associate repeatedly to train in Arkansas. In the past 10 years, I have trained staff to implement both BMRP and Achievement Mentoring in 23 new schools, in New York, New Jersey and Maine.
  • Is there a formal curriculum or program guidelines in place? What is the approximate cost for these materials?
    There are manuals and other program materials for both programs, which are provided at trainings. Their cost is included in the training costs. I personally charge $3000.00 a day for the initial training day, plus travel costs, and $150.00 an hour for ongoing support. Twenty to thirty people can be trained in one day. I am currently developing a contract with a NJ training company, who will do training when I am not available.

    Training Time:
    One eight-hour day workshop for 30 participants.
    On-going training during the year for 30 participants. The training occurs as 20 minute individual consultations, once every six weeks, by mail, telephone or e-mail.

    Training Cost:
    $1,600 plus travel expenses
    $10,500 for on-going training during the year for 30 participants ($175/hour)
    $1,800 for materials for 30 participants
  • What kind of training and technical assistance is available for this program?
    Initial training takes one day. Trainers come to the trainees. Ideally, facilitators/mentors receive weekly face-to-face support during the first year of implementation. Implementers outside of NJ have received only twice or once a month support during the first year. Monthly support is important during the second year too. The ongoing support is provided in conference calls or via Skype.
  • Once the program has been implemented, do you offer ongoing assistance with fidelity monitoring or quality assurance?
    Regular electronic reporting is an integral part of implementing the program. The electronic reports go to school building or agency coordinators and to me. I provide the school system or agency regular aggregated process a data. I also provide a letter certifying program quality.
  • Can an organization obtain assistance with data collection or measurement of outcomes?
    I advise and consult to school systems and agencies about how to design outcome evaluations and what measures I have used. For instance, I tell them that control or comparison groups are necessary; for the grades, attendance, and discipline referrals of high risk students all go in negative directions as they get older. Thus, the only way to tell if you are having a positive impact is to compare students in the program with other students who would be eligible for the program.
  • Which local stakeholders (law enforcement, local govt., CBOs, etc.) have to participate in order for this program to be successful?
    Because my program is a school-based program, the school superintendent, the coordinator of externally-funded programs in the district office and school principals must be involved in decision-making and should be invested in monitoring the processes of the program. There also needs to be someone in each building or agency whose job includes being a program coordinator.
  • Do you recommend the use of a risk assessment tool in identifying referrals for this program? If so, which one?
    Originally, I reviewed school records of students and gave teachers screening questionnaires. I eventually found, however, that asking teachers who they fear will not graduate led to the identification of the same students, and it is a much more efficient method of identification.

The Blueprints for Violence Prevention list has been developed by a research team headed by Delbert Elliott, Ph.D. at the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence at the University of Colorado. For Blueprints to certify a brand name program as “model,” the program must demonstrate its effects on problem behaviors with a rigorous experimental design, show that its effects persist after youth leave the program and be successfully replicated at least once. In order for a brand name program to be certified as “promising,” the program must demonstrate effects using a rigorous experimental design. The Blueprints Web site ( opens in a new lists 11 “model” programs and 19 “promising” programs.

Selection Criteria:
Lasting positive effects in well designed evaluations & emphasis on replication.

Applicability:  Excellent for crime, violence, delinquency & substance abuse.

Reliability:  Excellent

Currency:  Up to Date

Advantages:  Easy to use. Plentiful peer and tech support. Predictability of outcomes.

Limitations:  Covers only a small number of brand name programs.