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Evaluation of California's TUPE Program

Institution: University of California, San Diego
Investigator(s): Shu-Hong Zhu, Ph.D.
Award Cycle: 2015 (Cycle 24) Grant #: 24GT-0040H Award: $202,621
Subject Area: Disparities /Prevention/ Cessation/ Nicotine Dependence
Award Type: Pilot SARA

Initial Award Abstract
This study is designed to evaluate California's Tobacco Use Prevention Education (TUPE) program. The goal of the TUPE program is to reduce tobacco use among youth through school-based programs. Districts apply to the California Department of Education (CDE) for money. TUPE programs are expected to create and enforce tobacco control policies and to provide tobacco prevention activities for students that are engaging and based on the best scientific evidence. There has been no standard measure to indicate how well an individual school was doing. As a result, it is difficult for schools to assess their progress over time. This study will develop a standard measure of school performance with regard to tobacco control and will use it to assess school performance. A computerized algorithm will be used to generate a single score for each school based on their answers to survey questions. The score can be used to see whether high performance on the measure is related to the tobacco use behavior of students. It can also be used as a feedback tool to improve schools' performance and to measure positive changes in the quality of the programs offered over time. The proposed study gathers information from a range of individuals including the CDE that provides TUPE funding, district-level personnel and teachers, school administrators, and others involved in health, wellness, or tobacco prevention efforts at the school. The study will gather different kinds of data including (1) what schools list as tobacco policies on their website, (2) the report on how many students violated school tobacco policies and what the consequences were for those violations, (3) teacher and administrator online surveys that will ask about the current state of their tobacco prevention programs including whether and how they are dealing with the rise in new products, such as e-cigarettes, cigarillos, and hookah, where scientific evidence guiding the practice in dealing with these products is limited, (4) and more in-depth information from interviews with people who know their school's tobacco programs best. The evaluation will be conducted in 2016 and again in 2018. Not all schools receive TUPE funding (less than half). This study will randomly select schools to be included in the evaluation. There will be a total of 500 schools selected. About 300 of them will be schools that receive TUPE money to run tobacco prevention programs and 200 that do not. A random selection of teachers and administrators from each of the selected schools will be asked participate in the online survey, a process expected to yield information from 2,000 individuals. A subset of schools (N=27) will be identified for more in-depth assessment through key informant interviews (up to 3 individuals per school). The surveys, interviews and policy and enforcement analysis will help us produce a set of best practice recommendations that will be will be made available to schools, to the CDE, and to others who might benefit from them. School reports will focus on providing easily understandable facts and recommendations. We will have an advisory board with teachers, administrators, TUPE coordinators, and students who will help make sure the recommendations could actually be put into use in the school setting. The follow-up evaluation in 2018 will examine how recommendations from the initial evaluation have been put in place, and what barriers may have prevented them from being enacted. The study has four primary aims: A. Examine the extent to which TUPE schools have implemented the components of the TUPE program as intended and in accordance with the best practice in youth tobacco prevention and cessation. B. Compare TUPE and Non-TUPE schools on their tobacco control performance, C. Examine how much TUPE programs have integrated emerging tobacco products into their prevention curriculum, and how they have utilized the evidence available. D. Provide data-driven recommendations for improving the TUPE program in a timely way and study changes in TUPE programs over time.