Drug Education:

School-Based Programs Seen as Useful but Impact Unknown

HRD-91-27: Published: Nov 28, 1990. Publicly Released: Nov 28, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed six school districts' use of funds resulting from the implementation of the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act of 1986, intended to help schools and communities establish drug abuse education and prevention programs.

GAO found that: (1) the six school districts spent funds on three basic drug education approaches, involving student assistance programs, training programs for school personnel, and curriculum and classroom materials; (2) the districts spent 80 percent of their funds to pay school personnel salaries; (3) little was known at the local, state, or national level about the effectiveness of the various programs and curricula in reducing or preventing drug and alcohol abuse among students; (4) the districts spent 52 percent of funds for student assistance programs geared to high-risk junior and senior high school students; (5) several districts were unable to reach as many students as they intended due to insufficient time to implement programs or lack of volunteers to take on the added responsibilities of the drug education programs; (6) each district's program covered alcohol abuse, and five districts conveyed a no-use rather than a responsible-use message regarding alcohol; (7) students generally viewed drug education instruction positively; (8) overall, state and local officials were satisfied with the program direction provided by the Department of Education; and (9) students and principals believed drug and alcohol abuse among school-age children would be worse without the federally funded Drug-Free Schools programs.

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