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Social Capital and Children's Development: A randomized controlled trial conducted in 52 schools in Phoenix and San Antonio, 2008-2013 (ICPSR 35481)

Published: Feb 3, 2015 View help for published

Principal Investigator(s): View help for Principal Investigator(s)
Adam Gamoran, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Version V1

The Social Capital and Children's Development data were collected in a study of the causal effects of social capital on levels and inequalities of children's social and cognitive development during the early elementary years. The study included 52 schools in Phoenix and San Antonio, including 3,084 first graders and their families, and over 200 teachers, with half the schools randomly selected for the intervention and half serving as controls. Children from low-income Latino families were a special focus of the study. The experimental design of this study allowed for testing of the causal role of social capital. Social capital here refers to trust and shared expectations embedded in social networks of parents, teachers, and children. For young children, social capital operates primarily through their relationships with their parents, enhancing development through mechanisms of social support and social control. The research design was experimental: social capital was manipulated through a well-tested randomized intervention, Families and Schools Together (FAST), that enhanced social capital among parents, teachers, and children through an intensive after-school program and a 2-year follow-up program. FAST is intended to reduce parental isolation, enhance family engagement with schools, and strengthen family functioning; that is, to increase social capital between families and schools, among families, and within families to improve children's education and life-long outcomes. Key aspects of child development were assessed, including (a) social skills and problem behavior from standardized behavioral ratings by parents and teachers, and (b) grade retention, attendance rates, and third-grade reading and mathematics scores from school records. Social capital was measured with repeated surveys of teachers and parents that address the extent of social networks, parent involvement, trust, and shared expectations among parents, between parents and schools, and between parents and children. Demographic variables of this study include native language, years in the United States, date of birth/age, race/ethnicity, gender, and household composition.

Additional information about FAST can be found on the Families and Schools Together Web site.

Gamoran, Adam. Social Capital and Children’s Development: A randomized controlled trial conducted in 52 schools in Phoenix and San Antonio, 2008-2013. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2015-02-03.

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United States Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (R01HD051762)


Data are de-identified micro-level data on parents, children, and schools and all directly identifying information was removed, masked, or recoded in the data. Public and restricted versions of the data are included in this collection with the public version further protecting against possible confidentiality risk by reducing instances of small cell counts/frequencies. Due to the sensitive nature of the restricted data, users will need to complete a Restricted Data Use Agreement before they can obtain the restricted version. These forms can be accessed on the download page associated with this dataset.

Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research
2008 -- 2012
2008 -- 2012

Due to IRB requirements, the dataset should be subject to the following provisions:

  1. Only users authorized by ICPSR may use the data
  2. The data may be used only for research purposes
  3. Researchers are required to preserve the confidentiality of individual responses
  4. Researchers are prohibited from trying to identify respondents
  5. As part of preserving confidentiality, researchers should not report results for cell sizes smaller than 5 individuals
  6. Researchers are required to report to ICPSR should they inadvertently come across anything that could assist in identifying a respondent

The goal of this study was to measure the causal effects of social capital on levels and inequalities of children's social and cognitive development during the early elementary years.

This cluster-randomized controlled trial assigned 52 elementary schools in San Antonio, TX, and Phoenix, AZ, to FAST (n = 26) and no FAST (n = 26). Participants were 3,084 parents, 52.1 percent (n = 1,607) from San Antonio and 47.9 percent (n = 1,477) from Phoenix, whose first grade child was enrolled in a study school. 1. CITIES/SCHOOL DISTRICTS were selected because they had effective social service agencies with histories of implementing FAST, the school district population included high proportions of low income Latino families, and they agreed to participate in the study (districts agreed to allow schools to be randomly assigned to treatment status). 2. SCHOOLS were selected by the school districts. Districts were asked to invite the principals of Title 1 schools with at least 25 percent Latino students (during the 2007/2008 school year) to attend a meeting where they were informed about the study and invited to consent to participate. Principals who attended the meeting consented to participate, but not every principal who was invited to the meeting actually attended. In a few cases, insufficient principals attended or the schools did not meet the criteria for inclusion, and the district was asked to recruit additional schools. 3. STUDENTS/FAMILIES were selected based on enrollment in first grade at a study school during the first year of the study for that school (2008-2009 for Cohort 1; 2009-2010 for Cohort 2). All first grade students/families were eligible so long as they consented to participate in the study. Seventy-six percent of the sample was Latino, with other minority groups represented at lower levels: 8 percent African American, 1.6 percent Asian/Pacific Islander, and 1.3 percent American Indian. There were no statistically significant differences between recruitment rates across the FAST and comparison schools. Over 68 percent (N = 2,041) of parents completed post-test surveys. In Phoenix, 50 percent were born outside of the United States and 57 percent spoke Spanish as their native language. In San Antonio, 24 percent of parents were born outside of the United States and 31 percent spoke Spanish as their native language.


First grade students and their parents in 52 elementary schools in Phoenix, AZ and San Antonio, TX.

Teachers, Individuals, Districts, Schools
administrative records data, observational data, survey data

Just below 60 percent of first-grade families consented to participate in the study.

The study measured three aspects of social capital: intergenerational closure, shared expectations, and relational trust. The various strands of social capital are measured at four time points in parent surveys. These survey items, and other items measuring parent-teacher relationships and parent-school social capital, are adapted from three sources: FAST National pre-and post parent surveys, Shumow, Vandel and Kang (1996) and Bryk and Schneider (2002). Measures of children's socioemotional behavior come from parent reports and teacher reports through a series of questions from the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) (Goodman 1997). This widely used instrument for assessing social adjustment and behavior problems taps five dimensions of psychological functioning: emotional symptoms, behavior problems, hyperactivity/inattention, peer relationship problems, and prosocial behavior. Parents were asked to provide information about acculturation by responding to the Abbreviated Multidimensional Acculturation Scale (AMAS; Zea, Asner-Self, Birman, and Buki, 2003). This measure assumes that acculturation is a process by which individuals retain characteristics of the culture of origin while simultaneously acquiring characteristics of the new culture. It consists of three subscales: cultural competence, language competence, and ethnic identity. The AMAS was developed in English and Spanish and has appropriate psychometric properties with both United States-born and immigrant populations (Zea et al., 2003). In addition to the AMAS, the study assessed language preference by tracking parents' requests to complete the pre-test survey in English or Spanish. Participants were asked to report their length of residence in the United States on a scale of 0-5 years, 6-10 years, and 11 or more years. Length of residence is a common marker of acculturation (Harris, Firestone, and Vega, 2005; Schwartz, Pantin, Sullivan, Prado, and Szapocznik, 2006). Parental depression was measured using a reliable brief depression measure designed to reduce burden to participants during data collection, the Patient Health Questionnaire-2 (PHQ-2) to assess parents' depressive symptoms because of its high construct and criterion validity with other depression measures and with measures of functional status (Kroenk, Spitzer, and Williams, 2003; Mitchell and Coyne, 2007). The PHQ-2 is comprised of two items that assess the frequency of anhedonia and depressed mood in the past 2 weeks, both commonly considered as the cardinal symptoms of depression. Finally, children's academic outcomes were measured using third grade state exam test scores. Raw test scores and scale scores were collected from the school districts in San Antonio and Phoenix. Additionally the study included the scores converted to percentiles, z-scores, normal curve equivalents, and a score standardized by control group (i.e., participants in the comparison treatment condition) means by language and site.



2018-02-15 The citation of this study may have changed due to the new version control system that has been implemented. The previous citation was:
  • Gamoran, Adam. Social Capital and Children's Development: A randomized controlled trial conducted in 52 schools in Phoenix and San Antonio, 2008-2013. ICPSR35481-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2015-02-03.

2015-02-03 ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Performed consistency checks.
  • Created variable labels and/or value labels.
  • Created online analysis version with question text.
  • Performed recodes and/or calculated derived variables.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.

Cross-sectional non-response weights for the 1st grade parent post-test surveys and 3rd grade parent post-test surveys and panel weights for researchers wanting to investigate longitudinal questions. Nonresponse weights weight individual cases by the inverse of the "response propensity." The weights were calculated by predicting nonresponse using multilevel logistic regressions. The study balanced having a powerful predictive model with the introduction of extreme weights, which resulted from small sample sizes in particular categories. Therefore, iterated models were utilized in order to include only characteristics that significantly predicted nonresponse or improved model fit. Students who are missing item-level data on predictors included in the nonresponse model do not have nonresponse weights. Calculating nonresponse weights for these students would require imputing missing data, and the study did not impute these data because they likely were not missing at random.


  • Data in this collection are available only to users at ICPSR member institutions.

  • One or more files in this data collection have special restrictions. Restricted data files are not available for direct download from the website; click on the Restricted Data button to learn more.

  • The citation of this study may have changed due to the new version control system that has been implemented.
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This study is provided by Resource Center for Minority Data (RCMD).