The Effectiveness of Mandatory-Random Student Drug Testing

The Effectiveness of Mandatory-Random Student Drug Testing

The Effectiveness of Mandatory-Random Student Drug Testing

The Effectiveness of Mandatory-Random Student Drug Testing

Excerpt

Despite a decline in adolescent substance use over the past 10 years, the prevalence of illicit substance use among youth remains high and is a cause for concern. Recent national estimates indicate that 47 percent of students report having ever used illicit drugs and 72 percent report having ever drunk alcohol before leaving high school (Johnston et al. 2008). The negative consequences associated with substance use in adolescence include low academic outcomes, delinquency, and risky sexual behaviors (Baskin-Sommers and Sommers 2006; Ellickson et al. 2003; Roebuck et al. 2004). Substance use is also a leading cause of health problems in adolescence and adulthood (Anderson and Smith 2005; Brook et al. 2004; Oesterle et al. 2004). For these reasons, identifying approaches to reduce adolescent substance use remains an important goal for social policy and research.

One approach to address student substance use is school-based mandatory-random student drug testing (MRSDT). Under MRSDT, students and their parents sign consent forms agreeing to the students’ random drug testing as a condition of participation in athletics and other schoolsponsored competitive extracurricular activities. The programs are designed to supplement existing school-based substance use prevention strategies and have the twin goals of (1) identifying students with substance use problems for referral to appropriate counseling or treatment services and (2) deterring substance use among all students. Recent national estimates indicate that 14 percent of U.S. public school districts conducted random drug testing in at least one of their high schools during the 2004–2005 school year (Ringwalt et al. 2008), and since 2003, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools (OSDFS) has operated a grant program to support MRSDT programs in schools. However, few studies have rigorously tested the effects of MRSDT on student substance use, and some research suggests that random drug testing may have unintended negative consequences on student attitudes toward school and other risk factors for future substance use (Goldberg et al. 2003, 2007).

To help assess the effects of school-based random drug testing programs, the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES) commissioned this experimental evaluation of the MRSDT programs in 36 high schools within districts that received OSDFS grants in 2006. The primary focus of the study concerns the impacts of MRSDT on student-reported substance use; however, to capture other possible effects of MRSDT programs, the study also examines impacts on participation in activities subject to drug testing, attitudes toward school, intention for future substance use, and perceived consequences of substance use.

This report describes the implementation of the MRSDT programs and their impacts on students. As a background for those results, this chapter provides an overview of MRSDT programs and this evaluation, reviews the existing research on MRSDT programs, and presents the study’s key research questions. The remainder of the report describes the design of the evaluation and presents findings from the implementation and impact analyses.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.