Program Evaluation of the D.A.R.E. Program
The purpose of this proposal is to determine whether the D.A.R.E. program positively impacts students by following its mission and vision in empowering students to respect each other and choose to lead lives free from violence, substance abuse, and other dangerous behaviors. Having gone through this program when I was in Middle School, I am intrigued to understand more about the “just say no to drugs’ effect.Key components of this proposal include background information, stakeholders, review of the literature, theory of change model, evaluation questions, evaluation design and data sources, possible threats to validity, limitations, instrumentation, cost-benefit analysis, and dissemination plan.
This proposal has been prepared by Maria Cavallo Benkirane, M.A.T. Mrs. Cavallo Benkirane holds a Master of Arts degree in Teaching. She works for a private school in Palm Beach County as a Middle School Principal and has 17 years of experience as a science educator in both middle and high school.
Crack, a highly addictive form of cocaine, was first developed in the 1980’s. This development, led to an increase in the number of Americans who became addicted to cocaine and crack. A huge movement began during the Reagan era to stop the war on drugs. In 1982, Nancy Reagan coined the term “Just say no”. From that, drug prevention became a huge focus. D.A.R.E., Drug abuse resistance education, was founded in 1983 as a partnership between the Los Angeles Police Department, specifically the then-Police Chief Darryl Gates and the Los Angeles public schools.
The idea was that Police officers would go into schools to talk to kids and boost their self esteem so they can resist the urge to use drugs. Dr. Ruth Rich was the Health Education Curriculum Administrator for the Los Angeles Public School and she developed the original 17-lesson elementary school D.A.R.E. curriculum. LAPD police officers were trained to teach the D.A.R.E. curriculum. The officers provided information about drugs and the ramifications of their use as well as teaching ways for resisting peer pressure to use drugs, development of self confidence, and decision making skills.
Officer would be with the students for about 45 to 60 minutes and for several months. According to the D.A.R.E. website, the program is in place in 75% of US school districts and 43 countries. D.A.R.E. paraphernalia is available for sale such as bumper stickers, t-shirts, and educational supplies. In the 1980’s, classroom teachers did not have a background in how to guide their students about drug use and abuse. D.A.R.E. was a program that relied on the idea of training kids how to say “no.” As the use of the D.A.R.E. program became acknowledged by schools across the nation, it was not only adopted by schools throughout the country, but also around the world.
LAPD D.A.R.E. officers could train the other local law enforcement officers to teach the curriculum. Initially the program was to help elementary grade level students but in 1984, D.A.R.E. expanded to a middle-school curriculum and in 1989, D.A.R.E. introduced a high school curriculum. In 1989, D.A.R.E. America was founded as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Through the 1980’s and early 90’s, there was a fast and worldwide adoption of D.A.R.E. The expected outcome of this program was to help deter students from using drugs in the future. However, in the 1990’s, D.A.R.E. received criticism after several studies were published and had shown that participating in D.A.R.E had little impact on future drug use.
A study funded by the Department of Justice, which was released in 1994, revealed that partaking in D.A.R.E led to only short-term reductions in the use of tobacco but had no impact on alcohol or marijuana use. Through the next twenty years, D.A.R.E has changed and evolved to what it is today. Currently, it is a program called keepin’ it REAL(kiR) that focuses on interactive lessons with real life stories to help students make smart decisions.
During the 1980s and the 1990s, DARE, from a small local program intensified to a huge, expensive, national campaign against drugs in schools. During its peak, DARE was practiced in 75% of American schools, cost hundreds of millions of dollars and had a mascot, “Daren the Lion.”(Nordrum, 2014)
During the 1990’s in the United States, Project D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) was one of the most widely used substance abuse prevention programs targeted at school-aged youth.(West & O’Neal 1994) D.A.R.E. has been the country’s largest single school-based prevention program in terms of federal expenditures, with an average of three quarters of a billion dollars spent on it annually.(West & O’Neal 1994).