University study shows FreeWay curriculum reduces drug use in Missouri
public schools by 19%Results of a scientific
study conducted under the auspices of Missouri Baptist
University in St. Louis, reveal that the FreeWay curriculum is making a positive, significant
difference in the lives of public school students in
the state, according to Dr. Curt Scarborough, former president
of the FreeWay Foundation and author of the curriculum.
D. Boren, PH.D., CCES, chair of Natural and Health Sciences
at the college, supervised the survey and wrote the
official report on the results. According to Boren,
the survey included 1,070 students, grades 4 through
8, in 18 representative public school districts across
the state. Twelve of these districts were serviced by
FreeWay prevention specialists, and six districts served
as a control group.
objective of the survey was to compare the percentage
of drug-free students who did sign a FreeWay non-use
pledge card during the 1997-98 school year with the
percentage of drug-free students who did not sign a
pledge card. In March, 1999, Boren and his colleagues
gathered information designed to measure the effectiveness
of the alcohol, tobacco, and other drug prevention activities
conducted by FreeWay, a statewide agency with headquarters
in St. Louis County.
questionnaire used in both FreeWay districts and in
the control districts was identical. Students were asked
to identify themselves only by gender and grade level.
For the survey, "drug-free" meant total non-use
of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs (except for medical
purposes) during the present school year. Students were
asked to respond to the following two statements:
signed a FreeWay card last school year, pledging to
live drug-free. (check one: yes or no.)
have lived a drug-free life this school year. (check
one: yes or no.)
to Dr. Boren, non-pledging students in grades 4-8 were
67.7% drug-free during the twelve months preceding the
study. Students who did sign a FreeWay non-use pledge
card in these same schools were 86.8% drug-free. Thats
a 19.1% difference.
a typical day in a school, a FreeWay prevention specialist
will lead at least 100 students to sign a non-use pledge
card," Scarborough said. "One year later,
87 of them still will be drug-free. But if FreeWay had
not taught in that school, and challenged those 100
students to make a pledge of non-use, only 68 of them
would be drug-free!" In other words, according
to this study, FreeWay makes a positive difference in
the lives of 19 out of every 100 students taught. FreeWay
changes the ratio from 32 drug users per 100 students
to 13 users per 100 students.
only on the 7th and 8th grade students in the survey,
65.8% of the students not served by FreeWay were drug-free
in the preceding year. Among non-pledging 7th and 8th
grade students in schools which FreeWay did serve, 64.3%
remained drug-free. Some of those non-pledging students
received FreeWay training; most did not.
Missouri Baptist College study compared the above statistical
results with the 79.2% of the 7th and 8th grade students
who had signed FreeWay pledges the preceding year and
who were still drug-free 12 months after their initial
commitment, when they were 6th and 7th graders.
11.5% to 14.9% difference was an unexpected result because
the percentage of non-users usually drops dramatically
between elementary school (grade 6) and junior high
school (grade 7.) This usually expected increase in
alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use from grade to grade,
according to researchers, is due in large part to the
lessening of parental influence and the increasing negative
peer pressure among teenage students.
was the only non-significant factor in the study, indicating
that it does not matter if one is male or female with
regards to the beginning of substance abuse in each
most significant factor in reducing the percentage of
students who chose not to initiate substance use was
the FreeWay pledge card. This card is titled, "I
Declare Myself Free!" Students were urged to sign
this pledge: "I agree that the most happy and healthful
life is one free from the harmful effects of alcohol
and other drugs, and I am declaring myself free from
alcohol and other drugs so that I can enjoy my life
to the fullest! I choose to "Take the FreeWay"
. . . free from alcohol and other drugs. Ill urge
my friends to "Take the FreeWay" too."
study shows that drug use increases as a function of
grade level (i.e. it increases from grade to grade),
regardless of intervention. However, FreeWay (namely
the pledge not to use) significantly slowed the increase
in use, but did not reverse it, according to Boren.
The study has a 95% level of reliability.
the executive summary of the study, Boren emphasized
these factual results:
percentage of students who received extended (4-day)
FreeWay education, signed a pledge card, and remained
drug-free for at least one year is a significantly
higher percentage than for those students who did
not receive FreeWay instruction or sign a pledge card.
positive result was true of pledging and non-pledging
students within the same school districts, as well
as within other "control" school districts
throughout the state.
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