, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 33-40
Date: 11 Nov 2008

The Prevalence of Evidence-Based Drug Use Prevention Curricula in U.S. Middle Schools in 2005

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Abstract

Since the promulgation of its Principles of Effectiveness in 1998, the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools of the U.S. Department of Education has promoted the use of evidence-based drug prevention programs in the nation’s schools. We report the results of a survey, conducted in 2005, of a nationally representative sample of 1,721 schools with middle school grades. Respondents comprised the staff member in the school identified as most knowledgeable about the school’s drug prevention programs. The total response rate was 78%. Respondents answered questions concerning which drug use prevention curricula they used, and, if they used more than one, which one they used the most frequently. Three federally-sponsored registries were used to specify which curricula were considered evidence-based. Findings from 2005 were then compared to earlier estimates based on a similar 1999 survey. We found that 42.6% of the nation’s schools with middle school grades were using an evidence-based curriculum, an increase of 8% from our 1999 estimate. The two most prevalent curricula in use, at 19% each, were Life Skills Training and Project ALERT. We note, however, that only 8% of Life Skills Training users and 9% of Project ALERT users reported using those curricula the most, and that only 23% of respondents overall reported that they used an evidence-based curriculum the most. More information is needed as to why over three-quarters of the nation’s schools with middle school grades continue to administer curricula that have not been identified as effective.