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Project ALERT's NREPP Recognition Continues

Project ALERT continues its honored status of being recognized by the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP) from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Project ALERT received the highest marks possible during the NREPP’s first review of the program in 2008, but the NREPP has since revised their criteria to make it clearer for which substance use and mental health outcomes the reviewed programs are most effective in preventing or treating. These more stringent criteria can help educators choose which drug prevention programs have research evidence supporting effectiveness for the outcomes the educators are interested in addressing at their schools. The new criteria rate studies of programs based on four dimensions:

(1) rigor (i.e., the strength of the study methodology),

(2) effect sizes (i.e., a measure of whether a program had any impact on outcomes and how big that effect was),

(3) program fidelity (i.e., a determination of whether the program was delivered as designed), and

(4) conceptual framework (i.e., how clearly articulated were the program’s components).

Using these dimensions, programs are now rated as having:

(a) effective evidence,

(b) promising evidence

(c) ineffective evidence, or

(d) inconclusive evidence for specific outcomes.

Between 2015 and 2017, Project ALERT was classified as a “legacy program,” which means it was an evidence-based program that had yet to be reviewed with the new NREPP criteria established in 2015. In late 2016, the program was reviewed using the updated NREPP review methodology (i.e., effective, promising, ineffective, or inconclusive for specific outcomes). This review assigned Project ALERT a “promising evidence rating” for (1) alcohol use and disorders, (2) cannabis use and disorders, (3) tobacco use and disorders, and (4) knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about substance use, and an “ineffective evidence rating” for (5) inhalant use and disorders. These ratings were reached with reviews of the original RAND randomized controlled trials of Project ALERT and an independent randomized controlled trial of the program with sixth graders across 21 school districts in 11 states. According to NREPP, a promising rating indicates, that “the evaluation evidence has sufficient methodological rigor, and the short-term effect on this outcome is likely to be favorable. More specifically, the short-term effect favors the intervention group and the size of the effect is likely to be substantial.”

See Project ALERT’s NREPP profile here.

By some estimates, more than 2,000 drug prevention curricula are found in school classrooms and resource libraries. However, only a handful have undergone the kind of comprehensive testing that Project ALERT has, and only a small number of programs have received national recognition for their scientific soundness. This distinction clarifies and sustains the overall value of the Project ALERT program.



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