The Alert Program® (ALERT) was developed by occupational therapists, Williams and Shellenberger, in the United States. ALERT promotes a shared language to communicate arousal levels in children, and provides tools and strategies to strengthen their self-regulation skills. The Ministries of Health and Education worked together with two primary schools in the Wellington region to pilot ALERT during Term’s 3 and 4 of the 2019 school year. The pilot adapted ALERT as a school-wide approach and provided school staff with training and support. As staff learn and embed the skills, students are expected to improve their ability to self-regulate and both teachers and students will improve their overall wellbeing.
Standard of Proof evaluated the pilot ALERT programme and assessed its effectiveness in the New Zealand context. We used a mixed method approach, pulling together and then synthesising different types of data from various sources. We also used the pilot as an opportunity to test evaluation measures, data collection approaches and the overall systems required for an eventual impact evaluation while increasing the evidence base over time.
We thoroughly enjoyed working closely with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education, the project working group and the pilot schools, providing purposeful evidence that is informing decisions on future investments in the programme.