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Reflections on Our First Year of Project ALERT

by Eric Pedersen

Dear Project ALERT community,

This July will mark the one-year anniversary of Project ALERT moving back to RAND after 23 years at the BEST Foundation. I want to thank you for your continued investment in this program. We here at RAND have thoroughly enjoyed learning from many of you what we can do to continue to support and improve the program. I would like to share a few of our past-year accomplishments and a few goals for the future of Project ALERT.

We continue to support Project ALERT educators and offer freely accessible materials

We have ensured that very little has changed about how educators are trained and how they access materials for use of Project ALERT in their schools and other community organizations. The Project ALERT training, student materials (such as the videos and posters), and teacher lesson plans will remain freely accessible on our website. We continue to be available for any assistance you may need by phone at 1-800-ALERT-10 and by email. Please visit our website and Facebook page for ongoing, updated information, and interesting new topics.

We have expanded Project ALERT to include emerging topics of importance for middle school youth

Recent articles and other news published in our newsletter, the ALERT Educator, have focused on two hot topics that warrant greater attention during Project ALERT lessons: (1) the large increase in youth e-cigarette usage, and (2) the emergence of laws legalizing recreational use of marijuana in some states. These resources offer important guidance for how to address these topics with students within Project ALERT lessons. We will have complete teacher guides available on our website in late August for the 2015-2016 school year.

We have expanded the reach of our program to many new users in the United States and in other countries

Since July 2014, over 2,000 new Project ALERT users from nearly all 50 states have taken advantage of the free online training offered on our website or have attended a workshop led by a certified Project ALERT trainer. We have also seen many new users from Canada complete the training, and we have expanded the program’s reach into the country of Chile.

We have sought your input and are working to respond to your needs

I offer a big “thank you” to the 450 members of our community that completed our recent user survey to assess the state of Project ALERT and to learn how we can make improvements to the program to meet your needs. While the majority of educators are content with the program as it stands currently, we recognize that continued updates to some materials are necessary. Please look for a follow-up survey in the next year (and tell your colleagues to keep an eye out for survey invitations in their inboxes). Your feedback will help us determine accurate and up-to-date numbers regarding the number of educators, schools, and organizations using Project ALERT, and will help inform us about what the larger Project ALERT community would like to see addressed in the future.

We are designing several research projects and need your help in these efforts

Project ALERT is built on research evidence that shows that the program can have positive effects on students. We want to keep Project ALERT rooted in rigorous science so that we know the information students are receiving in schools is working to prevent drug use during middle school and in the future. We are looking to test alternative formats of the curriculum and examine how different formats of teacher trainings are effective in helping teachers learn the curriculum and deliver the content to students. We are now looking to partner with schools that are not currently using Project ALERT, but would like to. We are offering more intensive support for partner schools, including free trainings and monetary incentives to teachers for completing brief surveys. If this idea may be of interest to you, please fill out this brief online form so that we can get in touch with you.

Once again, I want to thank you for your continued participation in the Project ALERT community. Please do not hesitate to contact us with questions or comments. We have enjoyed working with all of you and are looking forward to the future of Project ALERT.

 

Sincerely,

 

Eric Pedersen

Director, Project ALERT

Behavioral Scientist

RAND Corporation

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