Napa Project Revisited

The Napa Project was designed to demonstrate the promise of school-based affective and alternatives programs. It was oriented toward exemplary strategies for elementary and junior high school students because interventions in senior high seemed to be too late. The hope was to see each strategy implemented in high-quality fashion and in fertile circumstances, for periods measured in semesters and years, not days or weeks. The goal was to assess the strategies' effects on a range of student outcomes. Further, in addition to implementing and evaluating the strategies individually, there was reason to assess them in several combinations and sequences, in recognition that significant effects might not be attainable with any one strategy alone.

The Napa Project was conducted between 1978 and 1983, in close collaboration with the Napa Unified School District in northern California. All the studies were done in the Napa schools, which served a largely white, middle- and working-class community on the periphery of the San Francisco Bay area. The intervention and evaluation costs of the project were supported by a large, multiyear grant from the NATIONAL INSTITUTE ON DRUG

Underlying the selection of seven total prevention strategies for the Napa Project was a theoretical model linking them to improvements in classroom and school environments, and then to positive changes in students' competencies, values, and attitudes (see Figure 1). Derived from the work of the Jessors (Jessor & Jessor, 1975) andFishbein (Ajzen & Fishbein, 1977; Schlegel et al., 1977), the causal model held that as students' satisfaction with self, peers, and school increased, and as they perceived their peers to have more positive attitudes toward school, their own attitudes toward drug use would become less accepting and they would perceive the norms of their peers to be similarly antidrug. This was intended to decrease both intentions to use drugs and actual drug use.

The four strategies and the grade levels at which they were implemented are listed below.

• Magic Circle—teachers were trained to lead structured class meetings designed to build a sense of connection and community, as well as to foster social and academic development (grades 3-4).

• Effective Classroom Management (ECM)-Ele-mentary—teachers were taught communication skills, discipline techniques, and self-concept enhancement techniques for use throughout the school day (grades 4-6).

• Effective Classroom Management (ECM)-Ju-nior High—communication, discipline, and self-concept enhancement skills were adapted for teaching in the junior high environment (grades 7-9).

• Jigsaw—teachers were taught to organize classrooms into cooperative learning groups of five or six students, in which each student was given the responsibility of teaching an essential piece of the regular curriculum to the other group members (grades 4-6).

Two alternatives strategies were offered as elective academic courses to junior high students. In these courses, students were taught skills and provided with opportunities for helping peers or younger children. The courses did not address the topic of drug use; instead, they sought to teach social competencies and to enhance self-esteem. The alternatives strategies were the following:

• Cross-age tutoring—students regularly tutored younger children in reading or other academic subjects (grades 8-9).

• Operating a school store—students ran a school store on their campus, selling school supplies and snacks, while learning relevant business skills in a related academic course (grades 8-9).

The final strategy was a drug education course that taught social competencies and drug information to seventh graders. In the course, students were taught Maslow's (1980) framework for understanding motivation; learned a systematic decision-making process; analyzed techniques used in commercial advertising; learned assertiveness skills for dealing with peer pressure; and practiced setting personal goals. Toward the end of the course, students were provided with information about tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana, in response to their written questions. They also applied the social skills in considering drug-use issues.

The seven strategies were evaluated individually and in certain combinations in twelve separate studies. All studies assessed the implementation of the strategies, as well as their effects on students. Process and outcome evaluations were conducted by the project's full-time four-person research staff. General information about the studies can be found in Schaps et al. (1984), which lists twenty-eight publications describing the various studies.

None of the strategies was shown to be effective. The four in-service strategies and the two alternatives strategies had no systematic effects on students' perceptions of classroom climate; attitudes toward self, peers, or school; attendance; academic achievement; perceptions of peer group norms; or drug-related attitudes, intentions, or behaviors. Moreover, this lack of effects could not be readily explained by poor implementation of the strategies. Implementation of the alternatives strategies was generally satisfactory. Although implementation of the in-service strategies did vary greatly from teacher to teacher, and was found to be inadequate in many classrooms, no effects were found even for the subgroups of students had who the greatest exposure to the strategies, or who were in classrooms where the strategies were best implemented, or who received combinations of strategies over two or three years.

Nevertheless, the failings of Napa's strategies and theory may well have been inadequacies of scope and depth, not of direction. That is, Napa may well have been on a potentially fruitful track in seeking to promote socially constructive norms, attitudes, and competencies—and reduce substance abuse—by fundamentally altering students' experience of schooling. But those who designed Napa may have grossly underestimated the scope and substance of the needed changes, and also the resources and processes needed to enact those changes. Even the classrooms in which the best implementation of Napa's strategies was observed may not have differed much from ''ordinary'' ones.

In providing twelve workshops over a period of several months, supplemented by one or two individualized consultations with a trainer, Napa offered teachers more support than most prevention programs of its time. However, it is recognized that to change in meaningful ways, most teachers need several years of focused staff development; regular opportunities for planning, reflection, and problem solving with peers; congruent instructional and curricular materials; encouragement from school and central office administrators; supportive assessment practices; and protection from conflicting demands for change.

Beat The Battle With The Bottle

Beat The Battle With The Bottle

Alcoholism is something that can't be formed in easy terms. Alcoholism as a whole refers to the circumstance whereby there's an obsession in man to keep ingesting beverages with alcohol content which is injurious to health. The circumstance of alcoholism doesn't let the person addicted have any command over ingestion despite being cognizant of the damaging consequences ensuing from it.

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment