Friday, March 28, 2008

BMTA Results - Therapuetic holds and suspensions - down! Academic achievement - up! Staff attendance - up!

Drop out rate - 39%
Out of school suspension rate - 2 times the national average
Only 30% of students scored proficient or above on English section of standardized assessment
Only 13% of students scored proficient or above on Math section.

This was the picture at the School for Exceptional Studies in Lawrence, MA - an alternative education setting serving k-12 students who had been removed from the traditional school for behavior, mental health and learning issues.

In 2005, Dr. Paul Koppenhaver approached Project Adventure to implement our Behavior Management through Adventure program k-12. His goals were to:

*Develop academic and social competence in students.
*Provide a therapeutically safe learning environment that meets the needs of the "whole child".
*Enable students to become more socially responsible and effectively manage their choices and behaviors.

BMTA was selected as the effective model to achieve those goals.

Seven criteria were established to evaluate:
*Use of physical restraints by staff with students.
*Time on task.
*Type of suspension (in school vs out of school)
*Staff attendance
*Student attendance
*Results on state academic assessments (MCAS)
*Results on a standardized academic assessment instrument (MAPS)

Data shows:
Physical restraints decreased by 47%
2003-2004 1853 restraints performed 2005-2006 978 restraints performed.

Time on task increased
Elementary school in fall of 2004 - 22 minutes per hour fall of 2006 - 26 minutes per hour
Middle school in fall of 2004 - 18 minutes per hour fall of 2006 - 23 minutes per hour

Improved academic development of students
Increase in inferential reasoning skills. MCAS results: Following BMTA implementation, elementary school students performed better than or equal to the two comparison groups on both criteria (passing and proficient) for both sets of tests (English and Math).
MAPS results: Elementary students consistently exceeded the gains of average national student populations (comparison groups from NWEA normative study).

Student Suspension - In School
In school suspensions increased as out of school suspensions decreased showing an ability to keep children in the learning environment.

Teacher Attendance
Creation of a supportive and engaging environment affected staff as well as students.
First 6 months of 2003-2004, teachers were absent for 5.6% of the school days.
First 6 months of 2005-2006, teachers were absent only 3.3% of the school days.
Through out the district, teacher absences increased from 4.4% to 5% over same period - an increase of 13%. Teachers in the BMTA environment had a decrease in absences of 41%

Student Attendance
2003-2004 student absence was 8.4%
2004-2005 student absence was decreased by 10%
2005-2006 student absence was decreased by 19%

BMTA has been implemented in alternative schools, court schools, juvenile justice programs, residential treatment programs and alternative to suspension programs with equal success.

To learn more about how this model can impact your program, contact PA at 800-468-8898 x4619 or

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Achieving Fitness Day at MAHPERD Spring Conference

Physical Educators from all over Massachusetts participated in an all day focus on fitness using Project Adventure techniques on March 7, 2008. Sponsored by Massachusetts Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, participants:

Lead by Achieving Fitness co-author, Lisa Hunt and assisted by PA training staff members Nate Folan and Ryan McCormick, the group laughed, played, learned and had a great day of Adventure!

And, Project Adventure thanks MAHPERD and Maria Melchionda for recognizing PA as 2008 Exhibitor of the Year. Bill Bates, of PA accepted the award at a luncheon on March 16. Thank you to MAHPERD for your recognition and support of PA!

Would you like to bring Achieving Fitness to your school or program? Contact us for details!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Harrisburg Public Schools and Project Adventure

Project Adventure welcomes Harrisburg Public Schools as one of our Behavior Management through Adventure licensed sites. We have had a licensing agreement with Harrisburg for all of their Emotional Support Classrooms and the Schimmel School since 2005. This new contract brings all alternative education programming into the PA methods- and BMTA.

Through this program, Harrisburg has joined other BMTA sites who are able to reduce suspension, explosive behaviors while increasing time on learning, academic achievement and attendance (of staff and students).

Effective this Spring, they have expanded the contract to embrace their behavioral programs as well including the ACTS program.

Carol James, Senior BMTA consultant has worked closely with Mary Kay Hunter of Harrisburg Schools to train a team of internal trainers and consult with teachers, administrators and counselors.

We look forward to the next phase of this project and are grateful to all in Harrisburg who understand and have experienced the power of PA's BMTA model.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Project Adventure and Association for Experiential Education come together for evidence based research!

PA, AEE and 70 people from across the world came together last week in Santa Fe, New Mexico at the 4th Annual Research of Adventure Programs Symposium.

Dick Prouty, Executive Director of PA and Pat Hammond, Executive Director of AEE greeted participants from across the US, Mexico, Japan and Canada - each one seeking information and feedback on evidence based research.

Aleta Meyer, Program Officer at NIDA cheered the group on indicating that experiential and adventure methods do have significant value and place in the NIDA agenda. Aleta was present through out the entire symposium attending sessions and providing guidance and advice to anyone who approached her.

In two days, the group heard and participated in over a dozen presentations on research from national experts and practitioners including Karla Henderson, Mike Gass, Lee Gillis, Susan Carter, Suzanna Sharkey, Mark Clayburg and Scot Hartl.

Sky Gray, Executive Director of Santa Fe Mountain Center and her team did an amazing job of selecting the site and hosting us in her city. The group took a field trip to SFMC.

Alison Rheingold, doctoral student at UNH and PA Senior Consultant not only did an amazing job coordinating the symposium, but also lead participants through an adventure activity that taught about fidelity in research.

Bobbi Beale, Chair of AEE's Council on Research and Evaluation (CORE) presented the work and agenda of CORE to the larger group.

Also attending was Sylvia Dresser, Executive Director of the Association for Challenge Course Technology.

Dick Prouty, Executive Director of PA, called the 2.5 day symposium a huge success and evidence of the impact of PA and AEE as collaborators and leaders in the field!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Is it realistic to expect physical educators to impact all children?

The pressure is on for schools and physical educators to impact all children in the fight against obesity and related issues. What are the barriers they face in this challenge? Outside from some of the obvious like not enough funding and not enough time, how about:

Children and youth who don't have the confidence to participate in PE classes?

  • Or they missed out on essential skill building in elementary school?

  • Or they are making unhealthy meal and snack choices outside of school that offset the work done in school?

  • Or maybe they have limited access or knowledge of how to access physical leisure activities?

  • And what about cultures, norms or just plain patterns in the home life that don't model or embrace physical activity and health?

All the heart monitors, aerobic equipment, high tech dance curriculum in the world is not going to impact body mass index figures, cardio vascular health or health if children and youth just aren't engaging during physical ed classes or if their choices are offsetting any progress made.

Achieving Fitness, Project Adventure's newest model can support the success of traditional fitness programming! Created by Jane Panicucci with Lisa Hunt, Ila Prouty and Carolyn Masterson, Achieving Fitness uses the core concepts of adventure teaching and learning to camouflage the heart raising activities and simultaneously work on goal setting, decision making, self-efficacy, team work and a lot of fun! After participating in Achieving Fitness, youth and children will be better able emotionally and physically engage in life long fitness!

If you are going to the American Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance conference in Fort Worth in April, join Project Adventure for our Achieving Fitness Launch Party - Thursday night, April 10. Stop by our booth #822 for directions or email

Not going to AAHPERD? But still want to get in on the fun? Schedule an Achieving Fitness training at your school, camp, or program by calling 800-468-8898 x 4554 or Or come to a workshop at one of our sites!

What do Project Adventure and tissues have in common?

As Director of Business Development for Project Adventure, Inc., I can't tell you how many times people tell me, "I do Project Adventure". "We have Project Adventure at my school". I'm excited to hear most cases. However, in some cases what they mean to say is, "I do adventure activities". "We have an experiential education program".

Why is there a difference? Project Adventure, Inc. is an organization. An organization that provides training, uses specific curricula and core concepts developed, piloted, evaluated and enhanced since 1971. Project Adventure, Inc. is a non-profit organization. What these well intentioned folks are doing is using the name of an organization to explain a teaching style or counseling method that they incorporate into their work.

If this same person were to say to me, "I use Achieving Fitness at my school", I would know that they are using a Project Adventure model in their work! Yipeeee. If they said, "I get great results with Behavior Management through Adventure", I'd know they work at a treatment agency, alternative school or juvenile justice program that is licensed to use Project Adventure's program.

Why do so many people attempt to use Project Adventure (PA) the proper noun as "project adventure" the noun? The same way as Kleenex has become an acceptable word for all tissue? Partly (and maybe mostly) it is PA's own fault. As we disseminated the concepts, theories and discoveries of PA as they were happening, many people joined in the excitement. And facility-based, adventure and experiential education became identified as Project Adventure.

I am hopeful this blog becomes a place where we (PA) can introduce you to the models and programs under the Project Adventure, Inc. umbrella, share ideas, thoughts and "bring the adventure home" together.