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Drug Education Programs and Activities in
Six Urban School Districts


Table II.2: School-Based Drug Education Programs in Six School Districts Reviewed (School Year 1988-89)
Type of program/

Program, by location
Dade County Detroit


Los Angeles
Student assistance
Elementary Children Are

On Site
People (CAP)

Schools (DFS)

Prevention counselor

(pilot program) program

Drug Free

After School and

Program for
At-Risk Youth


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School team training

Elementary On Tasc
Junior high

On Tasc

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Impact I

Science classes

Senior high

On Tasc
Classroom curriculum
Elementary CAPC


Health classes

Alcohol and

Drug Abuse


(DARE)° Junior high

Peer Approach to Science classes

Counsellng for

Teens (PACT)°

Health classes
Senior high

Health classes
Health classes

Michigan Model Health classes Second Step
Health classes DAREO


Here's Looking at SMART°

You 2000


Substance Abuse



Michigan Models Health and

Health classes
Health classes

science classes DARED


Teenage Health Health classes Health classes
Teaching Drug-Free


Health classes
Drug Decisions

and Dilemmas

Health and related

Health, science,

and related


Note: Bolded entries indicate programs funded by the Drug-Free Schools Program.
Commercially developed.



°Other source.

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The 1989 amendments to the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act require evaluation of the effectiveness of state and local drug education and prevention programs. To help the state and local education agencies determine what works in drug education, the Department has planned two studies to identify effective drug education programs. It also is developing guidance for states and districts to use in conducting effectiveness evaluations. At the school districts we visited, drug education evaluations to date have focused on how programs were implemented or the extent to which students' knowledge and attitudes about drugs changed.


Evaluation requirements for states and localities were changed in the

1989 amendments to the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act. Requirements

States, as part of their mandated biennial report to the Department of Changed by 1989 Law Education, must include “an evaluation of the effectiveness of State and

local drug and alcohol abuse education and prevention programs.” Previously, the law required states only to describe any programs that may have been effective.

Also, districts must submit to the state education agencies annual reports that include the methods used to evaluate program effectiveness and the results of such evaluations. Previously, districts were required only to submit a progress report on their first 2 years of program implementation, including significant accomplishments and the extent to which the program's objectives were met.

District Plans for

While these changes strengthen the evaluation requirements, they stop short of specifying how states and school districts should measure program effectiveness. To help states and localities comply with the new evaluation requirements, the Department is developing a handbook to assist them in designing and conducting program effectiveness evaluations. The draft of the guidebook outline suggests several options for measuring effectiveness. These range from tracking participant characteristics and program activities to conducting controlled impact studies to measure behavioral change. According to the Department of Education, measuring reduction in drug use as a result of the program will be extremely difficult and costly for the states and districts. States are likely to measure reduced student drug use through readily available data on indicators of use, such as the number of drug-related arrests, referrals, or school suspensions, a Department official said.

Drug Education Program Evaluations

The state and local education agencies included in our review generally plan to continue to use the same data as in the past to evaluate their programs, agency representatives told us. These data include the number of students involved in the program and students' and teachers' opinions about program success.

Effective Programs

In its effort to evaluate drug education programs, the Department of Education has one study underway and another planned to identify effective programs. In September 1989, the Department awarded a 30month, $1 million contract to gather and disseminate information on programs that the Department identified as successful. The Department defined successful programs as those that included such factors as a needs assessment, school drug policy, staff development, a drug prevention curriculum with a no-use message, and student, parent, and community involvement.

However, the successful programs may not have available the information needed to measure program effectiveness in reducing substance abuse. For example, some school programs in the study may lack randomly assigned control and treatment groups. This makes it more difficult to reach conclusions about whether changes in behavior were caused by the program. Also, if schools have not already collected baseline data on student drug use, it will be difficult for any program to show definitively the relationship between prevention programs and outcomes. At the time of our review, the study design was incomplete.

In September 1990, the Department also began a $2.9 million longitudinal study of the extent to which school and community programs have been effective in reducing or preventing alcohol and drug use by schoolaged youth. The results of this effort will not be available until late 1995 at the earliest.

Programs Evaluated in of the six school districts we visited, four had conducted evaluations.

Two used independent contractors to perform them, and two used their Four Districts Visited

internal research groups. These evaluations were limited to determining whether the programs were implemented according to local plans. For example, Dade County's evaluation for the 1988-89 school year focused on whether program objectives were met and participant attitudes toward the program. To show that the program met its goals, the evaluation report cited several factors:

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Appendix IV

Student Views on Effectiveness of Drug
Education Programs

Nearly all of the 284 students (sixth- through ninth-graders) who participated in focus groups at the 18 schools we visited considered their drug education programs useful. Without the programs, they said, more students would be using and selling drugs. Our focus groups explored student perceptions of two types of programs: drug counseling for students who are especially at risk for substance abuse and classroom drug education targeted to all students.

The main reasons students gave as to why drug counseling programs work were as follows:

Counseling group leaders are credible, caring adults who share information about drug and alcohol use based on their own experience with

drug users.
• Information shared in group discussions and individual meetings with

the counselor is confidential.
Peer support is provided by the group, and students have the opportu-
nity to make friends who are non-drug users.
Techniques for resisting peer pressure to use drugs and alcohol are

• Students have someone to talk to, which is especially important for stu-

dents whose parents are alcoholics or drug users.

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In general, students viewed their drug counseling and other school drug
education programs as effective if the programs provided credible infor-
mation about the consequences of using drugs and alcohol. While
making a number of positive comments, students also cited limitations
on program effectiveness, including these:

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Not all students want to stop using drugs, so they ignore help offered by
the programs.
Some students are addicted and require more intensive treatment to

· Peer pressure and easy substance availability make drugs and alcohol

hard to resist.
In Detroit, drug selling is more prevalent than trying or using drugs, stu-
dents there said. Students considered lack of coverage of the negative
aspects of drug selling in Detroit's program an especially important limi-

tation. This limitation was noted in the other districts as well.
• Students in Washington, D.C.) have access to a variety of pamphlets

purchased with Drug-Free Schools funds. Yet, students said that they generally do not read them because no new or interesting information is presented.

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