Pace Center for Girls

A set of gender-responsive prevention and early intervention programs and services for girls with multiple risk factors for juvenile justice system involvement, which uses a holistic approach to re-engage girls with learning, improve academic performance, and address the underlying trauma that contributes to female delinquency.

Pace Center for Girls (Pace) encompasses a set of gender-responsive prevention and early intervention programs and services for girls with multiple risk factors for juvenile justice system involvement including academic failure, chronic truancy, and dropping out of school.  Pace uses a balanced, holistic approach to re-engage girls with learning, improve academic performance, and to address the underlying trauma that contributes to female delinquency.  The Pace model provides the full academic school day and social service interventions in a safe, trauma-informed, strengths-based environment that reflects an understanding of the lives of girls and responds to their unique needs and challenges.

During a typical day at Pace, girls attend daily core academic classes, including language arts, math, social studies, life skills, and science. Every other week, or as needed, girls attend individual and group counseling sessions that focus on fostering positive behavioral change.  Weekly, or as needed, girls also attend academic advising sessions to plan and monitor academic progress.

Blueprints has certified one study evaluating Pace Center for Girls.

Millenky et al. (2019) conducted a randomized control trial involving 14 Pace Centers in the state of Florida. A total of 1,125 girls who applied to the program were randomized within center to either a treatment group that received Pace services or to a control group whose members received referrals to other community services. At the end of one year (the typical length of the program), significant positive impacts were found on enrollment, attendance, credits earned and suspensions for the treatment as compared to the control girls.

References:

Millenky, M., Treskon, L., Freedman, L., & Mage, C. (2019). Focusing on girls’ futures: Results from the evaluation of PACE Center for Girls. MDRC.

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Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP)

A post-secondary college-based prevention program that aims to address potential barriers to academic success and promote credit accumulation and associate degree completion in college students through comprehensive advisement and career and tutoring services provided by dedicated advisers.

The City University of New York (CUNY) Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) is a comprehensive program for college students seeking an associate degree. ASAP is designed to help participating students earn their associate degrees as quickly as possible, with the goal of graduating at least 50 percent of students within three years. The program provides students with structured and wide-ranging supports, including financial resources (e.g., tuition waivers for students in receipt of financial aid with a gap need, textbook assistance, and MetroCards to assist with transportation), structured pathways to support academic momentum (e.g., full-time enrollment, block scheduled first-year courses, immediate and continuous enrollment in developmental education, winter and summer course-taking), and support services such as advisement, tutoring, and career development.

CUNY ASAP’s first replication partnership began in 2014 through a collaboration with a research and evaluation nonprofit organization called MDRC, the Ohio Department of Higher Education, and three Ohio community colleges that implemented programs based on ASAP.  In the Ohio programs, students were encouraged to attend specific sections of existing “student success” courses that addressed goal setting, study skills, and academic planning. In addition, throughout the duration of the program, students were connected to colleges’ existing career services, and students in developmental education courses were required to attend tutoring.  Students were also required to meet with a program adviser twice per month in the first semester, with requirements in the later semesters varying depending on the adviser’s determination of the student’s support level group, as in the CUNY ASAP advisement model. Program advisers also had student caseloads in line with the CUNY ASAP model. In addition, students received a tuition waiver that filled any gap between their existing grant financial aid and tuition and fees, textbook assistance, and a monthly gift card of $50 to help students purchase groceries or gas and to serve as an incentive to meet other program requirements (for example, attending advising appointments).  The Ohio programs were managed locally with dedicated staffing and oversight from college leadership to support data collection, reporting, and iterative improvement.

Since the first ASAP replication project in Ohio, CUNY ASAP has gone on to partner with colleges in four additional states.

Blueprints has certified two studies evaluating ASAP.

In Study 1, Scrivener et al. (2015) and Weiss et al. (2019) reported on a multi-site experimental trial in which 896 students from three City University of New York community colleges were randomly assigned to a control group or to receive the ASAP intervention. At the end of three years (posttest), students in the treatment group, compared to students in the control group, had higher session enrollment, earned more cumulative credits, and completed degrees at a higher rate. Additionally, during the three years post-intervention, students who participated in ASAP continued to earned more credits and complete degrees at a higher rate, as well as earn their degrees more quickly than their control counterparts.

In Study 2, Miller et al. (2020) conducted a multi-site randomized control trial with 1,501 students attending three community colleges in Ohio. Using administrative records, evaluators found that by posttest (three years after baseline), treatment students showed significant improvements relative to control students on degree completion (mostly at the associate level) and registering at a 4-year college.

References:

Miller, C., Headlam, C., Manno, M., & Cullinan, D. (2020). Increasing community college graduation rates with a proven model: Three-year results from the Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) Ohio demonstration. MDRC.

Scrivener, S., Weiss, M., Ratledge, A., Rudd, T., Sommo, C., & Fresques, H. (2015). Doubling graduation rates: Three-year effects of CUNY’s Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) for developmental education students. New York: MDRC.

Weiss, M., Ratledge, A., Sommo, C., & Gupta, H. (2019). Supporting community college students from start to degree completion: Long-term evidence from a randomized trial of CUNY’s ASAP. American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 11(3): 253-297. doi.org/10.1257/app.20170430

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Professor and Blueprints Advisory Board member Larry Hedges of Northwestern University co-authored a working paper that addresses challenges to research, particularly randomized control trials, posed by Covid-19

Blueprints Advisory Board member Dr. Larry Hedges of Northwestern University, and his colleague Dr. Beth Tipton (also of Northwestern) have published a working paper titled “Addressing the Challenges to Educational Research Posed by Covid-19.” In this paper, Hedges and Tipton discuss how the Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted many aspects of our society, including the conduct of ongoing research, especially randomized field trials. This paper seeks to identify some of the problems that may arise because of this disruption, which may be different depending on the current stage of the trial. Hedges and Tipton identify some possible responses to the disruption with an emphasis on those that may permit investigators to capitalize on work already done and investments already made. Read the full working paper here: https://www.ipr.northwestern.edu/our-work/working-papers/2020/wp-20-47.html

Professor and Blueprints Advisory Board Member Velma McBride Murry of Vanderbilt University elected into the National Academy of Medicine

Blueprints Advisory Board member Dr. Velma McBride Murry, Lois Autrey Betts Endowed Chair and university professor, departments of health policy and human and organizational development, Vanderbilt University, is one of 100 new members recently elected to the National Academy of Medicine (NAM). The NAM (formerly the Institute of Medicine) was established in 1970 as the health arm of the National Academies. With just more than 2,000 members, NAM provides independent and trusted scientific advice nationally and globally. Dr. Murry is recognized for her work developing, evaluating, and implementing novel, strength-based, family preventive intervention programs, including the first technology family-based prevention designed to foster positive development and adjustment among youth. Her research addresses critical issues that confront underserved rural populations and emphasizes ways to harness the strengths and cultural assets that marginalized families and communities use to navigate challenging situations. Read more about the NAM and this announcement here: https://nam.edu/national-academy-of-medicine-elects-100-new-members-2020/

Interview with Professor and Blueprints Advisory Board member Larry Hedges, Yidan Prize for Education Research Laureate 2018

It is difficult for policymakers to interpret and apply large numbers of studies, many of which appear to have contradictory conclusions. Blueprints Advisory Board member Larry Hedges was awarded the Yidan Prize (the world’s largest education prize) in 2018 for his statistical methods for meta-analysis that provide tools to sort through studies and understand program impacts with greater confidence. Listen to a 10-minute interview with Professor Hedges to learn about the methods he has developed for taking a more systematic approach in learning what works:

https://yidanprize.org/interview-with-professor-larry-hedges-yidan-prize-for-education-research-laureate-2018/

Implementation during the COVID-19 pandemic of interventions rated by Blueprints as Model/Model Plus and Promising

In May and June 2020, Blueprints self-funded a survey conducted with contacts listed for the 17 Model/Model Plus and 77 Promising Programs on how evidence-based interventions have responded to, and begun to plan for, the aftermath of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The survey contained eight questions and 58 of the 94 programs surveyed responded (for a 62 percent response rate). The full survey and survey responses can be downloaded by going here: Blueprints-Covid-survey-responses_DirectorLtr14

Dr. Karl Hill Webinar: Why use Evidence and Where to Find it: Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development

Description: Dr. Karl Hill led a webinar “Why Use Evidence and Where to Find It: Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development,” in which he discusses the importance of employing evidence and prevention science in substance misuse prevention work. Watch the presentation here.

Presenter:  Dr. Hill is the director of the Program on Problem Behavior and Positive Youth Development and Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Colorado Boulder. The Program includes Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development, the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence and the Center for Resilience and Well-being in Schools. Dr. Hill’s work over the last 30 years has focused on understanding two questions: What are optimal family, peer, school and community environments that encourage healthy youth and adult development? And: How do we work with communities to make this happen?

Blueprints 2020 Conference canceled due to COVID-19

Dear Blueprints Colleague and Conference Attendee,

We are writing to inform you that after much consideration and with public health safety as our top priority, we have decided to cancel the 2020 Blueprints Conference due to the Novel Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Please know this decision was difficult and was made after thoughtful dialogue with our planning partners. While we have been monitoring this situation for several days, after the governor of Colorado issued a state of emergency yesterday, we knew it was imperative that we make a decision and inform our constituents.

For nearly two years, we have worked diligently with our planning committee and event planning team to create a conference where some 700 professionals within the field of serving and supporting at-risk youth and adults can connect, share ideas and learn from one another. We greatly value our face-to-face time together, however, given the recommendations from government and health officials, we recognize that convening a large group of people in one place is not the right or practical thing to do at this time.

Many of our attendees are residents of some of the areas where the coronavirus is most prevalent, as well as international attendees. With travel bans being instituted and employers asking employees to forego professional travel, we feel it is in the best interest of all attendees to cancel our event during this extraordinary circumstance. We will provide details in the days to come regarding how attendees who are already registered can receive a full refund and what to do for those who reserved a room at the Westin Westminster.

Please know it is our goal to regroup and reimagine the Blueprints Conference in the near future. At this time, we are focused on getting this announcement out to everyone who is already engaged with the 2020 Blueprints Conference to help with adjusting plans as needed. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience canceling the conference may cause.

This announcement comes with our sincerest thanks for your support of Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development. We wish you and yours healthy days ahead. Thank you for your patience as we provide follow-up details. At this time, our first priority is to let you know that we are canceling the event so you can plan accordingly.

Warm wishes and be well,

Pam Buckley, PhD
Blueprints Director

Karl Hill, PhD
Blueprints Principal Investigator

Project Towards No Drug Abuse (TND)

A classroom-based drug prevention program designed for at-risk youth that aims to prevent teen drinking, smoking, marijuana, and other hard drug use.

Project Towards No Drug Abuse (TND) is a drug prevention program for high school youth who are at risk for drug use and violence-related behavior. The current version of the Project TND curriculum contains twelve 40-minute interactive sessions taught by teachers or health educators over a 3-week period. Sessions provide instruction in motivation activities to not use drugs; skills in self-control, communication, and resource acquisition; and decision-making strategies. The program is delivered universally and has been used in both traditional and alternative, high-risk high schools.

Classroom management in Project TND involves development of positive norms of classroom behavior. Although interaction among the youth is encouraged, the course is primarily teacher-directed and highly structured. In Project TND, the teacher’s role is to actively develop and maintain peer group support in the class by modeling support, positively reinforcing it among group members, and negatively reinforcing deviant peer bonds and activities. The teacher creates and structures interactions among youth in prosocial directions.

Blueprints has certified four studies evaluating TND, all conducted with high schools located in Southern California.

Study 1, Simon et al. (2002) and Sussman et al. (1998), reported on a cluster randomized control trial in which 21 schools and 1,074 students were randomly assigned to: 1) control group; 2) TND curriculum; or 3) TND curriculum plus school wide activities such as meetings, job training and drug-free party events. Results at one-year follow-up showed that students from schools in either program condition exhibited a reduction in alcohol and hard drug use prevalence rates, relative to students from the control schools.

In Study 2, Dent, Sussman & Stacy (2001) conducted a cluster randomized control trial with 1,208 students (grades 9 to 11) and 26 classrooms in three traditional, regular high schools. One-year follow-up results showed significant reduction for treatment compared to control of prevalence of hard drug use and alcohol use.

In Study 3 (Sussman, Dent, Craig et al., 2002; Sussman, Dent, & Stacy, 2002; Sussman et al., 2003), three sessions were added to the original TND program in order to create a revised TND curriculum. This 12-session version contained the same motivation-skills-decision-making material as the previous trials, with the addition of three new sessions that provided more information about tobacco and marijuana use and violence prevention. A randomized block design was used to assign 1,018 students from 18 continuation high schools to one of three conditions: 1) standard care control condition; 2) a self-instruction version of the 12-session TND curriculum (completed in class); or 3) a 12-session version of the TND curriculum delivered by project staff health educators. Results from the one-year follow-up showed that only the health educator-led condition provided a reduction in problem behavior rates (i.e., hard drug use, alcohol use, weapon carrying, tobacco and marijuana use), relative to each of the other conditions. Similarly, findings at the two-year follow-up showed the health educator-led treatment significantly lowered the probability of 30-day tobacco and hard drug use.

Study 4, Sun et al. (2008), provided results of a cluster randomized control trial that included 18 alternative and regular high schools and gathered data on 2,064 students. Students were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: 1) control; 2) cognitive perception information only curriculum (Cognitive Only); or 3) combined cognitive perception information + TND (Combined). For this study, the program was administered by both project health educators and classroom teachers, in contrast to studies 1-3 in which only project health educators delivered the TND program. One-year follow-up findings showed that frequency of hard drug use was significantly reduced in both treatment conditions relative to the control group.

In terms of cost-benefit analysis, Washington State Institute for Public Policy (December 2019) reports $5.70 in measured benefits per $1 spent in implementing Project Towards No Drug Abuse.

References:

Dent, C., Sussman, S., & Stacy, A. (2001). Project Towards No Drug Abuse: Generalizability to a general high school sample. Preventive Medicine, 32, 514-520.

Simon, T. R., Sussman, S., Dahlberg, L. L., & Dent C. W. (2002). Influence of a substance-abuse-prevention curriculum on violence-related behavior. American Journal of Health Behavior, 25, 103-110.

Sun, P., Sussman, S., Dent, C. W., & Rohrbach, L. A. (2008). One-year follow-up evaluation of Project Towards No Drug Abuse (TND-4). Preventive Medicine, 47, 438-442.

Sussman, S., Dent, C. W., Craig, S., Ritt-Olsen, A., & McCuller, W. J. (2002). Development and immediate impact of a self-instruction curriculum for an adolescent indicated drug abuse prevention trial. Journal of Drug Education, 32(2), 121-137.

Sussman, S., Dent, C., & Stacy, A. (2002). Project Towards No Drug Abuse: A review of the findings and future directions. American Journal of Health Behavior, 26, 354-365.

Sussman, S., Dent, C., Stacy, A., & Craig, S. (1998). One-year outcomes of Project Towards No Drug Abuse. Preventive Medicine, 27, 632-642.

Sussman, S., Sun, P., McCuller, W. J., & Dent, C. W. (2003). Project Towards No Drug Abuse: Two-year outcomes of a trial that compares health educator delivery to self instruction. Preventive Medicine, 37, 155-162.

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