In Their Own Voices

In Their Own Voices: Students and Educators Evaluate California School-Based Drug, Alcohol, and Tobacco, Education (DATE) Programs

Prepared for the California State Department of Education, March 1995
By: Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE)
Authors: Joel H. Brown, Marianne D’Emidio-Caston, Karen Kaufman, Teddy Goldsworthy-hanner, Maureen Alioto

In the last 20 years, few studies conducted inside schools have explored how drug education programs are developed and delivered. Many did not take into account how the recipients of such services–students–were affected by such programs. This was realized in the following report, an evaluation of one of largest drug education efforts in the United States, the California Drug, Alcohol, and Tobacco Education (DATE) Program.

With extensive appreciation for the previous research literature, we began our research with several assumptions:

  1. It is not just what is taught to students in drug education programs, (i.e. content) that affects students’ decisions about substance use.
  2. Social and political processes inside school districts have a significant impact on the types and levels of drug education programs that are implemented.
  3. Social and political processes inside school districts regarding drug education have a significant impact on students.

These assumptions provided the rationale for our research across the state of California. This study exemplifies a balance between representation and depth. Researchers performed in-depth interviews at over 50 school districts with school district personnel in all positions involved with developing and delivering drug educational services. Based on early results, we developed survey items that were administered to more than 5000 students in grades 7 through 12. At the same time, 40 groups of students perceived to be at risk for substance abuse and thriving in their schools were interviewed. This report consists of material from school district personnel/student interviews and student survey data. It contains perceptions about the context of drug education programs, the content and processes of drug education, and how students respond to them.

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