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IES Grant

Title: A Summer Preparatory Program for Middle and High School Students with ADHD
Center: NCSER Year: 2012
Principal Investigator: Pelham, William Awardee: Florida International University
Program: Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Competence      [Program Details]
Award Period: 03/1/2012–02/29/2016 Award Amount: $3,478,637
Type: Efficacy and Replication Award Number: R324A120169

Co-Principal Investigators: Margaret Sibley, Dale Williams, and Karen Derefinko

Purpose: Adolescents with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are at high risk for academic failure and school dropout. Middle and high school students with ADHD experience substantially more academic impairment than their peers, with an estimated one-third of students with ADHD ultimately dropping out of high school. Core symptoms of ADHD include disorganization and inattention, which make learning and retaining academic information difficult. Research has shown that students with ADHD have difficulty transitioning to less structured academic environments (e.g., the transition from elementary school to middle school, and the transition from middle to high school). The middle and high school environments require increased student self-reliance, where students are required to keep track of their own schedule and school materials, turn in assignments with minimal prompts, remember page numbers and worksheets that are given across the day by multiple teachers, and plan for long-term projects. These environments are challenging for adolescents with ADHD.

To address these challenges, summer intervention programs in which at-risk students are identified and recruited into summer programs that offer academic instruction, social support, and school orientation activities have been implemented with success for children. However, relatively few such programs are available for adolescents. The Summer Preparatory Program (SPP) is a program that teaches academic skills and skills to improve psychosocial functioning. The SPP has demonstrated feasibility of implementation as well as promise for improving student outcomes, but the efficacy of the intervention has not yet been tested.

Project Activities: Incoming sixth- and ninth-graders will be recruited and randomly assigned to either the intervention condition or typical school services. The SPP intervention is an 8-week intensive summer program consisting of a series of rotating modules in the areas of academic skills and psychosocial functioning. Parents also receive weekly group parent training sessions. Multiple measures will be used to assess student behavioral and academic outcomes. Researchers will also examine factors that moderate or mediate the impact of the intervention on student outcomes.

Products: The products of this project include evidence of the efficacy of the SPP intervention, published reports, and presentations.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The research will take place in middle and high schools in an urban setting in Florida.

Sample: A total of 216 sixth- and ninth-grade students with ADHD will participate in this research.

Intervention: The SPP is an 8-week, intensive summer program with booster follow up and consultations with teachers and other school staff during the following school year. The program teaches preparatory skills to students and their parents through a series of rotating modules in the areas of academics and psychosocial functioning. Students participate in organization skills training, academic skill building modules (i.e., study skills, note-taking, writing skills), substance use prevention curricula, therapeutic recreational activities, problem-solving training, and a vocational program. Parents receive weekly group parent training sessions designed to teach skills in monitoring, contract negotiation, behavior management, and designing a home privilege program to reinforce success during the SPP and the upcoming school year. An incentive system is incorporated to address the possible motivational deficits of ADHD teens.

Research Design and Methods: This study will use a randomized trial design where students serve as the unit of randomization. Students will be randomly assigned to the SPP intervention or a typical services comparison package. The immediate and long-term (i.e., end of following school year) effects of SPP will be evaluated.

Control Condition: Students in the comparison group will receive a package of interventions similar to typical services that students with ADHD might receive, which includes parent training plus school year consultation similar to the SPP students. However they will not participate in the intensive summer program.

Key Measures: Student academic performance will be assessed using student GPAs. Student social behavioral functioning will be assessed by school disciplinary incidents as well as measures of conflict behavior at home and substance use. Three hypothesized mediators of treatment outcome will also be measured: missing assignments, improvement in disruptive behavior, and parent treatment engagement. Student age and baseline conduct problems will also be examined as moderators of treatment outcome.

Data Analytic Strategy: General linear modeling will be used to analyze the impact of SPP on student academic and behavioral outcomes.

Products and Publications

Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Sibley, M.H., Altszuler, A.R., Morrow, A., and Merrill, B. (2014). Mapping the Academic Problem Behaviors of Adolescents With ADHD. School Psychology Quarterly. Full text

Sibley, M.H., and Yeguez, C.E. (2014). The Impact of DSM-5 A-Criteria Changes on Parent Ratings of ADHD in Adolescents. Journal of Attention Disorders. doi:10.1177/1087054714526040 Full text