An Intervention for Children with Emotional Disabilities or High Risk for Special Education Services

Grant: Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services (OSERS) Grant
Families and Schools Together: An Experimental Analysis of a Parent Mediated Early Intervention for Elementary Children

Principal Investigators: Thomas R. Kratochwill, Lynn McDonald, Joel R. Levin

Prevention of Special Education Referrals: Designed as an intervention for children with emotional disabilities or high risk for special education services.  Ratings of children’s behavior attending FAST® vs. control (N=134) using matched pairs, indicated FAST reduced aggression and somatic complaints after 8 weeks and maintained after one year (parent ratings on SSRS and CBCL Ext.).

Designed as an intervention for children with emotional disabilities or high risk for special education services, this study aimed to test FAST’S ability to strengthen family relationships and build a support network for families within the school.

This randomized controlled trial, conducted with 67 families in an urban school district, recruited students both universally and through teacher referral.  Students were matched into pairs based on their grade, gender, and how their teachers rated them on the Child Behavior Checklist.  Students and families in the control condition received ongoing services provided by the school, while students in the experimental condition received the FAST intervention. The retention rate for this study was 90%.

Researchers measured family involvement in the special education evaluation process, the emotional/behavioral status of the child, and the child’s academic and social performance.  Data was collected through a pretest and posttest, both of which used parent and teacher ratings on the CBCL and SSRS.  Academic achievement was assessed using standardized test and state-mandated assessment data, while family relationships were evaluated using the Family Environment Scale.

Overall, FAST had a positive impact on reducing the number of special education referrals for students who participated with their families.  FAST families scored higher on the Family Adaptability Scale, and FAST parents rated their children as being less aggressive. Furthermore, fewer FAST students ended up receiving special education services than students in the control condition, which indicates that there are cost saving benefits of using FAST as a prevention tool.


FAST RCT UW-Madison WCER School of Education (2nd listing on web)

FAST An Experimental Study of Multi-Family Support Groups for Children at Risk