Project ALERT - Getting to Outcomes® Study

Diverse group of kids laying on the grass, photo by fstop123/Getty Images

Youth are bombarded with pro-drug use messages on the internet and other media outlets. Drug use and abuse can wreak havoc on a young person’s life in school and long-term. Fortunately, educators can prepare youth to avoid these risks and help them stay on track to reach their potential. Effective drug-use prevention programs can give young people the knowledge, motivation, and skills to resist the pressure to use. Project ALERT is such a program.

Project ALERT strategically targets adolescents as this is the developmental age where a person becomes most vulnerable to drug use and abuse, with costly and enduring consequences for themselves and those who care for them. The curriculum addresses the drugs that youth are most likely to come into contact with, is evidence-based, and has been used in schools for over 20 years. Plus, it's easy for schools to adopt and free for them to use. Now schools and policy makers want to know if Project ALERT can achieve even better results if educators receive implementation support such as training and ongoing coaching through a system called Getting To Outcomes (GTO).

We are planning a randomized controlled trial study in 42 schools over the next three years to assess the effectiveness of the recently updated Project ALERT curriculum alone and in combination with GTO implementation support. The study begins in the 2022 school year with teacher training in Project ALERT and GTO in the fall, followed by ALERT classes in 7th grade starting in January, 2023. If successful, the new Project ALERT, supported by GTO tools and guidance, would be one of the easiest evidence-based drug prevention education curricula for schools to use - and it would continue to be free, making it seamless for schools to adopt. For more information, please visit our FAQ page.

We are currently identifying schools and school districts to take part in this study. If you have additional questions or would like to discuss the possibility of enrolling your school or district, please contact our team at

How will the study work?

School flow chart, image by the RAND Corporation

Schools are randomly assigned to 1 of 3 tracks for 3 years

Track 1
Project ALERT: Teachers get free online Project ALERT training
Track 2
Project ALERT plus GTO: Teacher get free online Project ALERT training and coaching in GTO
Track 3
Status quo

For Track 1 and 2 (both Project ALERT groups)

  • 7th graders take Project ALERT classes in years 1–3
  • 8th graders take Project ALERT classes in years 2–3 (2022–24)
  • Researchers observe small number of ALERT classes
  • Surveys of some administrators, students, and faculty

For all 3 groups

  • Interview with selected school staff
  • Project ALERT can be implemented in all schools in year 3

Benefits to study schools

  • School and teacher stipends available
  • Evidence-based curriculum
  • Teachers asked to use Project ALERT and GTO will be paid for their training time
  • Promotes social-emotional learning
  • Reduces problem classroom behaviors
  • Builds school capacity to scale and sustain Project ALERT
  • Aligns with health frameworks and standards
  • Meets drug education requirements
  • Responds to parent concerns