Cover: Getting and keeping schools and kids for evaluation studies

Getting and keeping schools and kids for evaluation studies

by Phyllis L. Ellickson

Recruiting schools and kids to participate in drug prevention evaluations is no longer, if it ever was, a "done deal." Since the mid-1980s, schools have been inundated with requirements for drug programs and requests to cooperate with program evaluations. As a consequence, both treatment and control schools are harder to find. In addition, many school administrators feel that their students have been "overstudied" and parents often look askance at questionnaires that seek information on sensitive topics such as drug use. Even if evaluators successfully pass the "recruitment barrier," additional problems, such as the loss of schools or study participants over time, may threaten the study's integrity. This paper examines the challenges facing evaluators of community-based programs when the design calls for assessing prevention efforts targeted at children or adolescents in school. It discusses the barriers to recruiting schools for the evaluation and keeping them in the study over time, and presents alternative strategies for overcoming those barriers. It then turns to the problems of getting and keeping student participants, focusing, in particular, on strategies for obtaining parental consent and minimizing attrition over time.

Originally published in: Journal of Community Psychology, CSAP Special Issue, 1994, pp. 102-116.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Reprint series. The Reprint was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1992 to 2011 that represented previously published journal articles, book chapters, and reports with the permission of the publisher. RAND reprints were formally reviewed in accordance with the publisher's editorial policy and compliant with RAND's rigorous quality assurance standards for quality and objectivity. For select current RAND journal articles, see External Publications.

This document and trademark(s) contained herein are protected by law. This representation of RAND intellectual property is provided for noncommercial use only. Unauthorized posting of this publication online is prohibited; linking directly to this product page is encouraged. Permission is required from RAND to reproduce, or reuse in another form, any of its research documents for commercial purposes. For information on reprint and reuse permissions, please visit

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.