Fidelity of D.A.R.E. Officers’ Delivery of “keepin’ it REAL” in Elementary & Middle School

Feature-Resources, Research Article, Resources & Studies

Abstract

The goal of the current study is to examine the degree to which measures of quality of implementation and student engagement moderate pretest–posttest changes in mediating variables that are targeted by D.A.R.E. “keepin’ it REAL.” D.A.R.E. officers (10 elementary school, five middle school) taught D.A.R.E. “keepin’ it REAL lessons to 1,017 elementary students (480 boys and 534 girls) and 435 middle school students (217 boys and 215 girls). We examined teachers’ and students’ ratings of elementary and middle schools in response to D.A.R.E. officers’ delivery of the program. HLM analyses revealed that students’ engagement was a significant and meaningful predictor of changes in targeted mediators. Teachers’ ratings of student responsiveness added little in terms of understanding these outcomes with main effects observed only for students’ ability to respond to bulling and students’ estimates of peer drug use. Teachers’ ratings of the quality of officer implementation, on the other hand, did add to understanding students’ outcomes. Effects were seen for three (peer norms about drug use, decision-making (DM) skills, intentions to avoid drug use) out of six outcome variables and suggest a stronger positive effect for elementary versus middle school students. At least for these three outcomes, understanding quality of implementation added to our ability to interpret results. Specifically, in addition to students’ engagement, quality of implementation (which varied by grade) contributed to achieving positive changes in students’ outcomes.

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An Evaluation of the “D.A.R.E.: keepin’ it REAL” Elementary School Program

Key Findings
The “D.A.R.E.: keepin’ it REAL” elementary school program is delivered by certified D.A.R.E. officers with high fidelity and their delivery is engaging to students. It is effective and successful in the long-term reduction of drinking alcohol, getting drunk, smoking cigarettes, and vaping. The program was also shown to be entirely successful in preventing marijuana use.

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