A Descriptive Analysis of the Virginia Tobacco Settlement Foundation Elementary Compendium Programs in Relation to Tobacco Prevention
Smith, Amy Horsch
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The purpose of this study was to determine if the VTSF elementary school compendium programs are effective in the prevention of youth tobacco use based on evaluations provided by the VTSF. In the years (2003-2005), tobacco use trends among middle and high school students in Virginia started moving upward despite the fact that the Virginia Tobacco Settlement Foundation (VTSF) spent nearly $16 million in 2004 and approximately $11 million in 2005 for marketing, programs, enforcement, research and evaluation. This study is primarily a review of evaluations and not individual people or groups of people. The study reviewed the final evaluations of the various programs of the compendium in the 2005-2006 VTSF grant cycle. Only elementary programs (Pre-K – 5 and in some systems 6) were reviewed. The VTSF provides a variety of evaluation formats ranging from short, descriptive outcomes to quasi-experimental statistical analysis. Information was extracted from the evaluations to answer the primary research question: Do the elementary school compendium programs prevent tobacco use among Virginia's youth? Two additional questions were answered: 1) Does the current program evaluation process provide useful information to determine if the programs are effective in tobacco use prevention? and 2) Are community or school-based programs more effective? The following conclusions were drawn from this comparative program analysis: 1) Based on this current data approach to evaluating the elementary compendium programs, we cannot determine if the programs are effective in preventing youth tobacco use. However, based on the review of literature combined with these finding it is logical to conclude that the programs may not be preventing tobacco use in their intended population. 2) The evaluation process and the information included in the evaluations on an elementary level are not effective in providing information regarding tobacco use or future tobacco use. 3) School programs are more efficient and reach more students than community-based programs. There is no indication in terms of tobacco goals that one setting is better than another. The following recommendations were suggested: 1)Transition funding for compendium programs involving pre-initiation age students to late elementary, middle, and high school. 2) Concentrate funding for community-based programs on at-risk students. 3) Require school systems that apply for funds to offer programs on all levels: late elementary, middle, and high school, 4) Only those programs that directly address tobacco or tobacco and other drugs should be on the compendium list, 5) Streamline the evaluation process and make it consistent for all schools for comparative purposes, 6) Provide curriculum for all 4th-12th grade health and PE teachers rather than compendium programs as a separate unit, 7) Fund the development and implementation of curriculum that integrates tobacco prevention objectives into all school curriculum grades 4-12, 8) Explore ways to reach parents, 9) Focus more initiatives on teen tobacco cessation.
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