The Safe Schools/Healthy Students (SS/HS) Initiative offers a unique opportunity to conduct large-scale, multisite, multilevel program evaluation in the context of a federal environment that places many requirements and constraints on how the grants are conducted and managed. Federal programs stress performance-based outcomes, valid and reliable data, addressing important problems, ensuring efficiency and fiscal responsibility, reducing burden on federal staff and grantees, and developing and disseminating useful solutions and recommendations.
The National Evaluation Team (NET) of MANILA Consulting Group, Inc., (MANILA), and its partners Battelle Centers for Public Health Research and Evaluation (Battelle) and RMC Research Corporation (RMC), has been conducting the SS/HS national cross-site evaluation, which involves the coordinated efforts of federal Project Officers, local educational agencies, technical assistance providers, communication specialists, and national and local evaluators across a diverse set of socioeconomic and cultural contexts. This evaluation examines:
- The extent to which this unique multiagency collaborative initiative is associated with project-wide improvements in the following outcome categories:
- Reduced frequency of violent incidents in schools,
- Reduced rates of current alcohol, drug, and tobacco use among students,
- Greater access to mental health services among youth,
- Reduced truancy among students,
- Improved school climate, defined as an environment favorable to learning and positive child development, and
- Evidence of comprehensive project-wide improvement likely to be sustained after the end of the grant.
- The extent to which the planning and implementation processes affect the success of the project in achieving the desired objectives. Areas of interest included:
- Characteristics of the needs assessment,
- Involvement of partners in planning decisions,
- Adoption of evidence-based practices,
- Diffusion of system change to individual schools,
- Characteristics of implementation feedback process,
- Characteristics of implementation decisionmaking,
- Plans for financing improvements following the grants,
- Commitment to supporting infrastructure changes.
To date, the national cross-site evaluation has provided data indicating that the SS/HS Initiative is, in fact, meeting these goals. Findings revealed that fewer students reported they had experienced violence and fewer students reported they had witnessed violence. Fully 96 percent of school staff said SS/HS had improved school safety. There was a 263 percent increase in the number of students who received school-based mental health services and a 519 percent increase in those receiving community-based mental health services. In addition, more than 80 percent of school staff reported that they saw reductions in alcohol and other drug use among their students. These encouraging results stress the need for ongoing coordination at all levels of the Initiative to continue to ensure safer schools and healthier students.
Download and read the cross-site evaluation findings here:
- Introduction (PDF 219KB)
- Program Theory Model (PDF 363KB)
- Partnership Functioning (PDF 287KB)
- Perceived Effectiveness (PDF 333KB)
- Outcomes and Influences (PDF 492 KB)