Fast Track

http://www.fasttrackproject.org/

Prevention; Ages 6–11

Effectiveness

(Read the criteria for this rating)
  • Promising delinquency program

Description

Fast Track is a comprehensive and long-term prevention program that aims to prevent chronic and severe conduct problems for high-risk children. It is based on the view that antisocial behavior stems from the interaction of multiple influences, and it includes the school, the home, and the individual in its intervention. FAST Track’s main goals are to increase communication and bonds between these three domains: enhance children’s social, cognitive, and problem-solving skills; improve peer relationships; and ultimately decrease disruptive behavior in the home and school.

Fast Track is an intervention that can be implemented in rural and urban areas for boys and girls of varying ethnicity, social class, and family composition (i.e., the primary intervention is designed for all youth in a school setting). It specifically targets children identified in kindergarten for disruptive behavior and poor peer relations.

The program spans Grades 1 through 6 but is most intense during the key periods of entry to school (first grade) and transition from grade school to middle school. It is multidimensional, including the following components:

  • Parent training occurs in first grade and emphasizes fostering children’s academic performance, communicating with the school, controlling anger, and using effective discipline.
  • Home visitations occur biweekly to reinforce parenting skills, promote parents’ feelings of efficacy and empowerment, and foster parents’ problem-solving skills.
  • Social skills training enhances children’s social-cognitive and problem-solving skills, peer relations, anger control, and friendship maintenance.
  • Academic tutoring is offered three times per week to improve children’s reading skills.
  • Classroom intervention utilizes the PATHS curriculum, a program designed to be used in Grades 1 through 6 to help children develop emotional awareness skills, self-control, and problem-solving skills; foster a positive peer climate; incorporate home activities to allow parents’ participation; and improve teachers’ classroom management skills.

An evaluation of three cohorts who have completed first grade has been performed, and follow-up studies are under way. Compared to control groups, participants have shown the following positive effects:

  • Better teacher and parent ratings of children’s behavior with peers and adults.
  • Better overall ratings by observers on children’s aggressive, disruptive, and oppositional behavior in the classroom.
  • Less parental endorsement of physical punishment for children’s problem behaviors.
  • More appropriate discipline techniques and greater warmth and involvement of mothers with their children.
  • More maternal involvement in school activities.
  • Children in Fast Track classrooms nominated fewer peers as being aggressive and indicated greater liking and fewer disliking nominations of their classmates.

Risk Factors

Individual
Antisocial/delinquent beliefs
Early and persistent noncompliant behavior
Hyperactivity/impulsivity
Family
Poor parental supervision (control, monitoring, and child management)
School
Bullying
Frequent school transitions
Frequent truancy/absences/suspensions; expelled from school; dropping out of school
Identified as learning disabled
Low academic aspirations
Low school attachment/bonding/motivation/commitment to school
Old for grade/repeated a grade
Poor school attitude/performance; academic failure
Poor student-teacher relations
Poorly defined rules and expectations for appropriate conduct

Endorsements

OJJDP Blueprints Project: Promising program

Contact

Mark T. Greenberg, Ph.D
Prevention Research Center
Human Development and Family Studies
Pennsylvania State University
110 Henderson Building South
University Park, PA 16802-6504
Phone: (814) 863-0112
Fax: (814) 865-2530
E-mail: mxg47@psu.edu
Web site: http://www.prevention.psu.edu/people/greenberg_m.html

References

Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group. (1999). “Initial Impact of the Fast Track Prevention Trial for Conduct Problems: I. The High-Risk Sample.” Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 67:631–647.

Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group. (1999). “Initial Impact of the Fast Track Prevention Trial for Conduct Problems: II. Classroom Effects.” Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 67:648–657.

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