The Evaluation of Abstinence Education Programs Funded Under Title V Section 510: Interim Report . What Is the Evaluation of Abstinence Education Programs Funded Under Title V Section 510?


In fall 1998, the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, awarded a competitive contract to Mathematica Policy Research to conduct an independent evaluation of Section 510 abstinence education programs.  The evaluation addresses three important questions:

  • What are the nature and underlying theories of the abstinence education programs supported with Section 510 funding?
  • What are the implementation and operational experiences of local communities and schools that have received Section 510 abstinence education funding?
  • What are the impacts of abstinence education programs?
    • How successful are they in changing the knowledge, attitudes, and intentions of youth?
    • How successful are they in reducing teen sexual activity among youth?
    • How do they change the risk of pregnancy and STDs?

To address these questions, the evaluation includes an extensive implementation and process analysis, focused on 11 abstinence education programs, as well as rigorously designed impact studies of 5 of these programs.  The implementation and process analysis uses program documents; program observations; focus groups with program participants, parents, and other area youth; and interviews with program staff and community leaders to document and understand important features of the range of programs that have been implemented.  The impact study uses longitudinal survey data for groups of youth randomly assigned to the abstinence program in the community or to a control group.

The evaluation design was developed and implemented with guidance from a technical workgroup composed of individuals with demonstrated expertise in the myriad critical aspects of this complex research agenda (see Appendix A).  In addition, the evaluation team held meetings with numerous interest groups to solicit their input regarding the evaluation questions, site selection criteria, and data collection strategies.