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Program Profile: Linking the Interests of Families and Teachers (LIFT)

Evidence Rating: Effective - One study Effective - One study

Date: This profile was posted on July 20, 2011

Program Summary

The program is designed to prevent the development of aggressive and antisocial behaviors in elementary children. The program is rated Effective. The intervention group showed less child physical aggression, a reduction in substance use initiation; and although the entire sample showed significant mean increases in substance use growth over time, the intervention slowed down the rate.

Program Description

Program Goals
Linking the Interests of Families and Teachers (LIFT) is a preventive intervention designed to address two factors that put children at risk for subsequent antisocial behavior and delinquency: 1) aggressive and other at-risk social behaviors with teachers and peers at school and 2) certain parenting practices, including inconsistent discipline and lax supervision.

Target Population
The target population is children within the elementary school setting, particularly first graders and fifth graders. The program is designed for children and their families living in at-risk neighborhoods.

Program Components
LIFT is designed to prevent the development of aggressive and antisocial behaviors.

The program has three main components: 1) classroom-based child social skills training, 2) the playground Good Behavior Game (GBG), and 3) parent management training. It also focuses on systematic communication between teachers and parents. To facilitate communication, a “LIFT line” is implemented in each classroom. The LIFT line is a phone and an answering machine in each classroom that families are encouraged to use if they have any questions for the teachers or have concerns they wish to share. Teachers could also use the LIFT line to record daily messages about class activities, which could be accessed by parents.

Child social skills training sessions are held during the regular school day and are broken into distinct segments. The training is delivered in 20 one-hour sessions over a 10-week period. Each session includes 1) classroom instruction and discussion about specific social and problem-solving skills, 2) skills practice in small and large groups, 3) free play in the context of the GBG group cooperation game, and 4) review and presentation of daily rewards. Parts 1, 2, and 4 of the session take place in the classroom, and part 3 takes place on the playground.  The curriculum is similar for all elementary school students; however, delivery format, group exercises, and content emphasis are modified depending on the grade level of the participants.

The playground GBG takes place during the free-play portion of the social skills training and is used to actively encourage positive peer relations on the playground. During the game, rewards are earned by individual children for demonstrating positive problem-solving skills and other prosocial behaviors with peers; these rewards accumulate over time so that the entire group or class can earn a reward. A point system is used to discourage negative behaviors.

The parent management training component of LIFT is conducted in groups of 10 to 15 parents, and consists of six weekly 2½-hour sessions. Sessions can provide training either shortly after school or in the evenings. Session content concentrates on positive reinforcement, discipline, monitoring, problem solving, and parent involvement in the school. Communication is fostered throughout the school year.

Program Theory
LIFT was informed by research on the development of delinquency—specifically coercion theory (for more details, see Patterson 1982 or Patterson, Reid, and Dishion 1992). An important assumption underlying the program is that social agents respond coercively to children who are at risk for conduct problems. The intervention components were developed to decrease oppositional/antisocial child behaviors and the coercive response to such behaviors, as well as to increase prosocial behaviors and their support.

Evaluation Outcomes

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Study 1
Child Physical Aggression

Reid and colleagues (1999) found a significant group effect on child physical aggression. Preintervention, children in both groups exhibited an average of 6.0 aggressive physical behaviors on the playground during recess each day. Postintervention, children in the Linking the Interests of Families and Teachers (LIFT) intervention group averaged 4.8 aggressive behaviors. In contrast, control group participants averaged 6.6 a day.

Mother Behavior
There was no significant group effect on mothers’ behavior. However, there was a significant effect for mothers in the intervention group who exhibited high preintervention levels of aversive verbal behavior. Those mothers changed the most postintervention, compared with control group mothers with the highest levels of aversive verbal behavior.

Teacher Ratings of Child Behavior
There were significant group differences on measures of teacher ratings of child behavior. Social skills of children in the intervention group were viewed more favorably by their teachers than children in the control group were 1 year postintervention.

Study 2
Substance Use Initiation

DeGarmo and colleagues (2009) found that the LIFT youths, compared to control youths, reported a 10 percent reduced risk of initiating tobacco use and a 7 percent reduced risk of initiating alcohol use by 12th grade; both were significant results. There was also a 9 percent reduced risk in initiating illicit drug use, but this reduction did not reach significance. LIFT youths also reported approximately 10 percent reduced risk in initiating alcohol use by 12th grade.

Substance Use Growth Over Time
The entire sample showed significant mean increases in tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drug use over time. Tobacco and illicit drug use showed significant accelerated growth. Alcohol was the most commonly used substance and had the highest level of increased use over time. However, the study found that the LIFT prevention program was associated with primarily slowing down the rate at which substance use increased across adolescence. Compared to control youths, LIFT youths had a significantly reduced average level of use of tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs through 12th grade. In addition, girls in the LIFT intervention showed lower growth rates in tobacco and illicit drug use than their male counterparts.
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Evaluation Methodology

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Study 1
Reid and colleagues (1999) conducted a population-based, randomized, intervention trial to assess the immediate effectiveness of Linking the Interests of Families and Teachers (LIFT). Twelve schools from areas of high juvenile crime were selected at random to participate as either an intervention (n=6) or control (n=6) school. These schools were located in neighborhoods with higher-than-average rates of juvenile crime from the Eugene/Springfield, Ore. region. All first and fifth grade classrooms within each school (32 classrooms total) participated. Participants consisted of 671 first and fifth graders, their families, and their teachers. Families were recruited by trained recruiters through letters, phone calls, and home visits.

The intervention school participants (n=382) received LIFT. The control school participants (n=289) joined in the assessment-only phase of the program. Participants were largely from white, lower- to middle-socioeconomic backgrounds. Participating students were 51 percent female, and 84 percent European American, 5 percent Hispanic, 3 percent American Indian, 3 percent Asian/Pacific Islander, 2 percent African American, and 3 percent “other.” The two groups shared similar backgrounds, though some differences were noted between the groups (the control group had significantly more fathers age 50 or older, more fathers with some graduate education, more mothers with a college education, and more mothers of Asian/Pacific Islander descent). These differences were due to the clustering of demographic characteristics within neighborhoods, such as the inclusion of a graduate student housing complex of a local university.

The intervention took place during the fall. Participants were assessed preceding intervention and again during the spring following intervention. During each assessment, children, parents, and teachers were interviewed and completed a variety of paper-and-pencil questionnaires. Additionally, school and court records were collected, children were observed in the classroom and on the playground, and parents and children were observed during family problem-solving discussions at home or at the research center.

The hypothesis of the study was that the LIFT intervention would have a significant impact on three measures: child physical aggression on the playground, mother aversive behavior during mother-child interactions, and teacher ratings of child positive behaviors with peers during the year following the program. Data was collected from multiple reporting agents (teachers, parents, child, and assessment staff) using multiple methods (observation, questionnaire, and interview) across multiple settings (school, home, and laboratory). The Interpersonal Process Code (IPC) was used to index rates of maternal aversive behavior during mother-child interactions. The IPC was also used to measure rates of child physical aggression towards peers on the playground during recess. The Walker–McConnell Scale of Social Competence and School Adjustment was used to measure social skills of students. Teachers rated students on the Peer-Preferred Social Behavior subscale, which included items such as “shares laughter with peers” and “makes friends easily with other children.”

The analyses involved examination of univariate distributions of the preintervention, postintervention, and follow-up variables. Variables that deviated significantly from normality were transformed using log or square root transformations. Change scores were also calculated (i.e. postintervention minus preintervention, or follow-up minus preintervention). The change score of each outcome variable was regressed on group, grade, sex, and the initial status on that variable, as well as all possible interactions. Random regression analyses included school as a clustering variable and accounted for group, grade, sex, and possible interactions among variables.

Study 2
DeGarmo and colleagues (2009) conducted a follow-up study concentrating on long-term outcomes of the fifth graders from the Reid and colleagues (1999) study. Initial 2-year follow-up data indicated almost no substance use among first grade youths, but the data indicated high levels of initiation and growth in substance use among fifth grade youths. Therefore, the focus of the follow-up study was placed on the fifth grade sample. They collected self-report data of substance use from the students for 7 years until they reached 12th grade, and then analyzed the data for the entire time period. Students were included in the final sample if they participated fully in the baseline assessment or joined the study within the first 2 years of follow-up. The total sample was 351 students within 17 different classrooms in 6 randomized schools.

The study looked at substance use initiation and substance use growth over time. Substance use outcome measures included a simple frequency count of any tobacco use (smoking or chewing), any alcohol use (beer, wine, liquor), and any illicit drug use (marijuana, amphetamines, heroin, cocaine). The use of each substance was rated based on responses to the following question: "How many times have you used in the last 6 months?"

Latent variable growth models were used to analyze the data.
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There is no cost information available for this program.
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Evidence-Base (Studies Reviewed)

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These sources were used in the development of the program profile:

Study 1
Reid, John B., J. Mark Eddy, Rebecca A. Fetrow, and Mike Stoolmiller. 1999. “Description and Immediate Impacts of a Preventive Intervention for Conduct Problems.” American Journal of Community Psychology 27(4):483–517.

Study 2
DeGarmo, David S., J. Mark Eddy, John B. Reid, and Rebecca A. Fetrow. 2009. “Evaluating Mediators of the Impact of the Linking the Interests of Families and Teachers (LIFT) Multimodal Preventive Intervention on Substance Use Initiation and Growth Across Adolescence.” Prevention Science 10:208–220.
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Additional References

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These sources were used in the development of the program profile:

Eddy, J. Mark, John B. Reid, and Rebecca A. Fetrow. 2000. “An Elementary School–Based Prevention Program Targeting Modifiable Antecedents of Youth Delinquency and Violence: Linking the Interests of Families and Teachers (LIFT).” Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders 8(3):165–76.

Patterson, Gerald R. 1982. Coercive Family Process. Eugene, Ore.: Castalia.

Patterson, Gerald R., John B. Reid, and Thomas J. Dishion. 1992. Antisocial Boys. Eugene, Ore.: Castalia.

Stoolmiller, Mike, J. Mark Eddy, and John B. Reid. 2000. “Detecting and Describing Preventive Intervention Effects in a Universal School-Based Randomized Trial Targeting Delinquent and Violent Behavior.” Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 68:296–306.
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Related Practices

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Following are practices that are related to this program:

School-Based Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Programs
Designed to foster the development of five interrelated sets of cognitive, affective, and behavioral competencies, in order to provide a foundation for better adjustment and academic performance in students, which can result in more positive social behaviors, fewer conduct problems, and less emotional distress. The practice was rated Effective in reducing students’ conduct problems and emotional stress.

Evidence Ratings for Outcomes:
Effective - One Meta-Analysis Juvenile Problem & At-Risk Behaviors - Multiple juvenile problem/at-risk behaviors
Effective - One Meta-Analysis Mental Health & Behavioral Health - Internalizing behavior

Universal School-Based Prevention and Intervention Programs for Aggressive and Disruptive Behavior
Universal school-based prevention and intervention programs for aggressive and disruptive behavior target elementary, middle, and high school students in a universal setting, rather than focusing on only a selective group of students, with the intention of preventing or reducing violent, aggressive, or disruptive behaviors. The practice is rated Effective in reducing violent, aggressive, and/or disruptive behaviors in students.

Evidence Ratings for Outcomes:
Effective - More than one Meta-Analysis Juvenile Problem & At-Risk Behaviors
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Program Snapshot

Age: 6 - 11

Gender: Both

Race/Ethnicity: Black, American Indians/Alaska Native, Asian/Pacific Islander, Hispanic, White, Other

Geography: Urban

Setting (Delivery): School

Program Type: Academic Skills Enhancement, Classroom Curricula, Conflict Resolution/Interpersonal Skills, Parent Training, School/Classroom Environment, Children Exposed to Violence, Alcohol and Drug Prevention

Targeted Population: Children Exposed to Violence, Families

Current Program Status: Active

Listed by Other Directories: Child Exposure to Violence Evidence Based Guide, Model Programs Guide, What Works Clearinghouse, Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development (formerly Blueprints for Violence Prevention)