Prevention Science

, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 75–81 | Cite as

Does Federal Policy Support the Use of Scientific Evidence in School-Based Prevention Programs?

  • Denise D. Hallfors
  • Melinda Pankratz
  • Shane Hartman
Original Paper


Since 1998, federal policy has explicitly required the use of “evidence-based” prevention programs in schools. We review how this policy has been implemented through state recipients of the Safe and Drug Free Schools (SDFS) Program, and how other federal and private agencies have supported the policy by providing guidance about the scientific evidence for specific programs’ effectiveness. We report data from a survey of SDFS state office directors, and we compare and contrast the most popular lists of effective programs. State offices supply the infrastructure for administering the SDFS Program, providing technical assistance to local school districts, monitoring the implementation of federal policy at the local level, and determining funding eligibility based on compliance. We found that states rely heavily on federal lists to determine whether school districts are meeting federal policy requirements, particularly the National Registry of Effective Programs and Practices (NREPP). Both SDFS and NREPP are changing, however, and the changes do not bode well for the transfer of prevention science to schools. Conclusions and recommendations are presented.


Safe and drug free schools program Evidence-based program Substance abuse Prevention policy 



This work was supported by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Substance Abuse Policy Research Program.


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Copyright information

© Society of Prevention Research 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Denise D. Hallfors
    • 1
  • Melinda Pankratz
    • 1
  • Shane Hartman
    • 1
  1. 1.The Pacific Institute for Research and EvaluationChapel HillUSA

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