|| Fast Track Prevention Trial: Evaluation through Third Grade
Citation: Three articles authored by The Conduct Problems Prevention Research
Group, Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, (2002) 30:1-52.
What is the study about?
In 1990, the Fast Track Project was initiated to evaluate the feasibility
and effectiveness of a comprehensive, long-term prevention program targeting
children at risk for conduct disorders. In four diverse American communities,
over 9,000 kindergarten children were screened to identify 891 children as high
risk. These children were then randomly placed into Fast Track intervention
or control groups. Beginning in grade 1, the children and their parents were
asked to participate in a program of social skills and anger-control training,
academic tutoring, parent training, and home visiting. All children who attended
core schools, including the screened high-risk youngsters, received a classroom
program, called PATHS (Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies). PATHS focused
on self-control, emotional awareness and understanding, peer-related social
skills, and social problem solving to increase social competence. The parent
program addressed discipline issues and parental failures to support constructive
behavior. It promoted parental involvement in the child’s schooling and
consistent monitoring of the child’s activities. Group meetings were held
with children and parents, who met separately on skills development, then worked
together on parent-child relationships. Home visiting with parents consolidated
changes promoted in the program components.
What are the findings?
These articles report findings after the children had completed third grade.
By that time, 37 percent of the high-risk intervention group were rated as being
free of serious conduct-problems, in contrast with 27 percent of the controls.
Teacher ratings of fewer conduct problems and lower use of special education
resources gave modest evidence that the intervention was preventing conduct
problem behavior at school. Parent ratings provided additional support for prevention
of conduct problems at home. These outcomes are important because the children
were initially screened as being in the top 10 percent of high risk students.
Parenting behavior and children’s social cognitive skills that had previously
emerged as outcomes at the end of the first year continued to show positive
effects of the intervention. The biggest difference between findings after grade
1 and findings after grade 3 was that teachers reported significantly lower
rates of child aggressive, disruptive, and disobedient behaviors for the intervention
The accompanying articles on Fast Track discuss implementation and research
issues, such as, effective collaboration between the research team and the community,
adaptation of the research program for community needs, and the identification
of the most important factors for predicting aggressive behavior, as reflected
in the Fast Track findings.
How do these findings relate to ACT?
The Fast Track Project provides a research model that is testing features
that are shared in other research and community programs. [See other Special
Topics listed in “For more information below.”] As a research-based
project, ACT provides many of the same skills and information that are included
in Fast Track. But ACT focuses on all children, age 0-to-8, and the adults around
them. Information and skills are communicated to parents and teachers through
the media, the ACT Website, the ACT Training Program, and direct distribution.
Fast Track, on the other hand, identifies high-risk families; and then provides
an array of services directly to parents through parents groups and home visiting,
and directly to children through the classroom and children’s groups.
ACT’s primary topics of Managing Anger, Resolving Conflicts, and Discipline
relate to Fast Track’s social skills for parents and children. Fast Track
is also studying the best approaches to implementation, which can provide help
to ACT-Trained Community Coordinators, who are organizing local ACT initiatives.
Fast Track is expected to follow up on these children through the 10th grade,
so other reports on the preventive effectiveness of Fast Track will be published
in the coming years.
For more information
Other Special Topics have reported on the impact of preventive interventions
for aggressive behavior and other conduct problems. See Playground
School Aggression, and Conduct
Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group. Implementation of the Fast Track
Program: An example of a large-scale prevention science efficacy trial. Journal
of Abnormal Child Psychology, (2002) 30:1-17.
Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group. Evaluation of the first three years
of the Fast Track Prevention Trial with children at high risk for adolescent
conduct problems. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, (2002) 30:19-35.
Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group. Predictor variables associated
with positive Fast Track outcomes at the end of the third grade. Journal
of Abnormal Child Psychology, (2002) 30:37-52.