School Districts Respond to New Regulations - Report Changes in Substance Abuse Prevention Programs for Students

Policy as innovation: Diffusion of the principles of effectiveness

Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill analyzed the impact of the 1998 revisions to the federal Safe and Drug-Free Schools Act on substance abuse prevention programs administered by 104 local school districts in 11 states.

The project was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's (RWJF) national Substance Abuse Policy Research Program (SAPRP) (for more information see Program Results).

Key Findings:

  • Prior to adoption of the new regulations, the most frequently used substance abuse-prevention curricula cited by coordinators at Safe and Drug-Free Schools had either been proven ineffective or had not been evaluated.
  • After the regulations went into effect, three-fourths of the coordinators said their district had adopted a research-based curriculum. In many cases, however, this curriculum was not the one most commonly used in the district.
  • Most school districts had conducted needs assessments, set goals and objectives and evaluated their programs in accordance with the new regulations.

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