Shaping the Evidence Base of Teen Pregnancy Prevention Programs: Updated Evidence on the Effectiveness of a Widely Used Youth Development Program
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
The TOP® model consists of three components implemented over nine consecutive months: (1) weekly curriculum sessions, (2) community service learning, and (3) positive adult guidance and support. In Hennepin County, staff from community agencies along with classroom teachers co-facilitated TOP®during the school day in middle, high, alternative, and public charter schools in the cities with the highest teen birth rates in the county. Abt Associates designed and implemented a cluster-randomized study between 2011 and 2015 to determine the impact of TOP® on reducing sexual risk-taking behaviors among urban teens in Hennepin County. The study sample consists of 61 teachers randomized within 24 schools to the treatment and control conditions, and 1,644 youth assigned to those teachers. Youth were surveyed three times: at baseline, before the intervention began for the treatment group; 12 months after the baseline survey (short-term impacts) and 24 months after the baseline survey (longer-term impacts). The sample is 55% female, 31% African American, 24% white, 17% Hispanic, with a mean age of 14 years. Approximately 24% were sexually experienced at baseline. Using an intent-to-treat (ITT) analysis, we found no treatment effects on sexual risk-taking behaviors or mediators at either the short-term or long-term follow-ups.
This presentation will include an overview of the intervention as implemented in Hennepin County, present the key impact and implementation findings, and focus on possible explanations for why the original results were not supported. It will be important to interpret the findings in the context of six other rigorous evaluations of TOP®funded by OAH that are in progress. The updated evidence provided by this study is helping to shape the growing evidence base of effective teen pregnancy prevention programs and youth development programs more generally, while posing challenging questions about the scalability of evidence-based programs.
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Wyman National Network (2014). Community Service Learning Resource Guide. November.