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School Predictors of the Intensity of Implementation of School-Based Prevention Programs: Results from a National Study

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Research has indicated that the effectiveness of school-based prevention programs is affected by the implementation quality of these programs. As the importance of implementation has become clearer, researchers have begun to examine factors that appear to be related to implementation quality. Data from a nationally representative sample of 544 schools were used to examine structural equation models representing hypothesized relationships among school and program factors and implementation intensity, controlling for exogenous community factors. Significant relationships were found between implementation intensity and several school and program factors, including local program development process, integration into school operations, organizational capacity, principal support, and standardization. Implications of these findings are discussed.

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  1. When correlations between school and community characteristics and survey participation were examined, it was found that schools located in small towns or rural areas were significantly more likely to have participated. Schools were less likely to have participated if they were located in communities with more female-headed households with children, a greater proportion of urban population, and more households that received public assistance. High schools participated less often than other schools. The factors associated with participation are reported in greater detail in Gottfredson et al. (2000).

  2. Ten different census variables were used for imputation. For each imputed variable, those census variables with the largest correlations with the variable to be imputed were used. Between 1 and 128 schools required imputation for exogenous variables taken from sources other than the teacher surveys. The two exogenous variables that are taken from the teacher survey (Percentage teachers African-American and Number of Different Students Taught) were missing data for 221 and 220 schools, respectively. Because imputation was required for a large number of schools, we examined whether results changed when these two variables were not included in the model. However, there were no significant changes: All paths in the final model presented in this article were still significant in the revised model and the paths that specifically involve these two variables did not differ significantly between the two models.

  3. Between 1 and 39 schools required imputation for implementation intensity indicators.

  4. The measurement models for the exogenous community controls and the implementation intensity indicators are not shown because they matched the factor analysis results, with a few additional covariances. In the community model, three negative covariances are added: Larger schools located in urban areas tend to have lower rates of teacher turnover, middle schools are more likely to be located in areas of concentrated poverty and African-American populations, and schools located in areas of concentrated poverty and African-American populations are more likely to have teachers who teach a greater numbers of students. In the implementation intensity model, each measure of intensity was allowed to covary with the other two measures. Table 2 shows that all of the fit indices suggest a good fit to the data for these models.

  5. Among the community factors, covariances were allowed between Size/Urbanicity and Teacher turnover and Grade level and Number of different students taught. Among the school and program factors, covariances were allowed between Local Program Process and Integration into School Operations, Principal Support and Integration into School Operations, and Organizational Capacity and Principal Support.


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This research was supported in part by Grant 96-MU-MU-0008 from the National Institute of Justice, U.S. Department of Justice. Additional support was provided by Grant 98-JN-FX-0004 from Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, U.S. Department of Justice, and by the U.S. Department of Education. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the positions or policy of any sponsor.

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Correspondence to Allison Ann Payne.

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Payne, A.A., Gottfredson, D.C. & Gottfredson, G.D. School Predictors of the Intensity of Implementation of School-Based Prevention Programs: Results from a National Study. Prev Sci 7, 225–237 (2006).

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