This study took place in one target junior high school serving students in grades 7, 8, and 9, in the Los Angeles Unified School District. The district is the second largest district in the US and it enrolls primarily minority students. The school, district, and the surrounding community are majority Hispanic. The school enrolls about 2,220 students with class sizes ranging from 25-28 students. Most students (70%) participate in the federal school lunch program and speak Spanish as their first language (62%).
The high risk treatment group was 96% Latino and 4% Anglo. Almost half (45%) had an English-only background, 32% were Fluent English Proficient (FEP), and 22% were Limited English Proficient (LEP). Over 90% (92%) participated in the federal school lunch program.
The high risk control group was 96% Latino, 2% Black, and 2% Anglo. Forty percent had an English-only background, 35% were Fluent English Proficient (FEP), and 25% were Limited English Proficient (LEP). Over 90% (91%) participated in the federal school lunch program.
The low-risk comparison students were 96% Latino, 2% Anglo, 2% Black, 17% limited English proficiency, and free/reduced-price school lunch was unreported.
LD and SED students in the intervention group were 91% Latino, 8% Black, 1% other race, 53% limited English proficiency, and 94% free/reduced-price school lunch. The LD and SED comparison group was 93% Hispanic, 7% Black, and 49% limited English proficiency.
ALAS addresses both the youth and the contexts in which youth live and function, including the school, family, and community. Student-focused strategies include social problem solving training, counseling, student recognition and enhancement of school affiliation. The problem solving training and counseling is 10 weeks of social metacognitive problem solving instruction with 2 years of follow-up problem solving prompting and counseling. Elements of the training include how to recognize, identify, and define problems; how to control impulses and overlook irritations; and how to set goals, develop a plan, and anticipate roadblocks. Students are given recognition in the form of frequent reinforcement through praise, outings, certificates, etc. Students also are provided with the ALAS lounge to congregate in during lunch or after school to help build school affiliation. Social bonding activities are also provided such as holiday school parties, evening or weekend outings for achievement, after-school groups to discuss teen issues, tutoring, hot chocolate mornings before school, and order-in pizza lunch.
Student attendance is monitored period by period by circulating a teacher signature card to each class and visually checking to see if a student is in class. Students may also be transported to school, located if truant, escorted to classes if chronically late. Parents received daily notes about student attendance. Teachers provide weekly feedback to parents and students. Feedback to students include monitoring of academic grades, homework, and assignments.
Parents are trained on parent-child problem solving and parent participation in schools, including: when and how to contact school personnel, legal rights of students and parents, premises and assumptions of American educators, red flags of teen behavior, and how to monitor the adolescent's school behavior and performance.
ALAS staff work to integrate school and home needs with community services. This includes advocating for youth in court, working with probation officers to monitor behavior, working to get family food stamps or social security benefits, referring parents to potential jobs or training programs, and getting free city bus passes of students to get to and from school.
The intervention lasts through all 3 years of junior high school and is administered in conjunction with the regular school program by treatment staff who are based at the school site every day.
Students in the control group received the regular (i.e., traditional) school program during junior high school.
Support for implementation
The implementation was implemented by ALAS staff. Personnel were at the school site every day for three years and were in the community and home as needed.