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Reducing Risks for Problem Behaviors During the High School Transition: Proximal Outcomes in the Common Sense Parenting Trial

NCJ Number
Journal of Child and Family Studies Volume: 24 Issue: 9 Dated: 2014 Pages: 2568-78
Date Published
11 pages

The authors report on a study to test the Common Sense Parenting training program, as well as its modified version called CSP Plus, with low-income eighth graders and their families as they enter high school; the paper lays out the study’s methodology, outcomes, and implications for policy.


This study tests Common Sense Parenting (CSP)®, a widely used parent-training program, in its standard form and in a modified form known as CSP Plus, with low-income eighth graders and their families during the high school transition. The six-session CSP program proximally targets parenting and child emotion regulation skills. CSP Plus adds two sessions that include youth, and the eight-session program further targets skills for avoiding negative peers and activities in high school. Over two cohorts, 321 families were enrolled and randomly assigned to either CSP, CSP Plus, or minimal-contact control conditions. To date, pre-test and post-test assessments have been completed, with 93 percent retention over about a six-month interval. Here, analyses of preliminary outcomes from pre-test to post-test focus on data collected from parents, who represent the primary proximal intervention targets. Intent-to-treat structural equation modeling analyses were conducted. CSP and CSP Plus had statistically significant effects on increased parent-reported child emotion regulation skills. CSP Plus further showed a statistically significant effect on increased parent perceptions of their adolescent being prepared for high school, but only in a model that excluded the CSP condition. Neither program had a significant proximal effect on parenting practices. Emotion regulation, one indicator of self-control, is a robust protective factor against problem behaviors. Intervention effects on this outcome may translate into reduced problems during high school. Moreover, CSP Plus showed some limited signs of added value for preparing families for the high school transition. Publisher Abstract Provided

Date Published: January 1, 2014