Positive shifts in school climate
RULER improves school climate by enhancing teacher instruction and increasing student engagement. In one study, we examined fifth- and sixth-grade classrooms that had been implementing RULER for 1 year and then again after 2 years. Independent observers, who were blind to which classrooms did and did not have RULER, rated RULER and non-RULER classrooms on the quality of their climates. They rated RULER classrooms, as compared to non-RULER classrooms, as having more emotional support after both the 1- and 2-year marks and better instruction and classroom organization after 2 years. Another study exploring the source of these shifts found that increased student engagement was the key to these positive shifts in climate.
Enhanced academic performance
Students who receive RULER perform better academically, particularly in English language arts and in their work habits. In one study of fifth and sixth graders, students in classrooms randomly assigned to receive RULER had better grades at the end of one year than students in classrooms that did not have RULER. Specifically, students in RULER classrooms earned significantly higher grades in English language arts and were rated by their teachers as having better work habits and conduct as compared to students in classrooms without RULER.
Better quality relationships
RULER is designed to improve student connectedness by strengthening student bonds with their peers, enhancing their engagement in learning, and supporting their relationships with teachers. Research under review shows that early adolescent students who reported significantly lower connectedness with teachers (in comparison to their peers) scored significantly lower on all adaptive indicators and significantly higher on maladaptive indicators in comparison to students who reported high and average levels of connectedness. These findings both contribute to the growing literature focused on the importance of promoting feelings of connectedness in adolescents and support school adoption of RULER to help students feel more connected.
Less bullying and aggressive behavior
In one study from 2012 and in a more recent study from 2019, we examined the impact of RULER on student conduct. We found that students in schools implementing RULER, as compared to students in schools without RULER, demonstrate less bullying and aggressive behavior after one year of RULER. These effects last into the second year of RULER rollout.