Final report: Process and outcome evaluation of the G.R.E.A.T. Program

In 2006, the University of Missouri-St. Louis was awarded a grant from the National Institute of Justice to determine what effect, if any, the G.R.E.A.T. (Gang Resistance Education and Training) program had on students. G.R.E.A.T., which is a 13-lesson general prevention program taught by uniformed law enforcement officers to middle school students, has three stated goals: 1) to reduce gang membership, 2) to reduce delinquency, especially violent offending, and 3) to improve students’ attitudes toward the police. The process evaluation consisted of multiple methods to assess program fidelity: 1) observations of G.R.E.A.T. Officer Trainings, 2) surveys and interviews of G.R.E.A.T.-trained officers and supervisors, 3) surveys of school personnel, and 4)“on-site,” direct observations of officers delivering the G.R.E.A.T. program in the study sites. Results illustrate a high level of program fidelity, providing greater confidence in any subsequent outcome results. To assess program effectiveness, we conducted a randomized control trial involving 3,820 students nested in 195 classrooms in 31 schools in 7 cities. Active parental consent was obtained for 78% (3,820 students) of the students enrolled (11 percent of parents declined and 11 percent failed to return consent forms). These students were surveyed six times (completion rates were: 98%, 95%, 87%, 83%, 75%, and 72%).in the course of five years thereby allowing assessment of both short- and long-term program effects. Approximately half of the G.R.E.A.T. grade-level classrooms within each school were randomly assigned to experimental or control groups, with102 classrooms (2,051 students) assigned to receive G.R.E.A.T. and 93 classrooms (1,769 students) assigned to the control condition. Results from analyses of data one-year post-program delivery were quite favorable; we found statistically significant differences between the treatment (i.e., G.R.E.A.T.) and control students on 14 out of 33 attitudinal and behavioral outcomes. However, the question remained whether the program had long-term impacts that persisted into high school. To address this question, we continued to survey this group of students for three more years (most of the students were in 10th or 11th grade at the time of the last survey administration). The four-year post program analyses revealed results similar to the one-year post program effects, albeit with smaller effect sizes. Across four years post program 10 positive program effects were found, including lower odds of gang joining and more positive attitudes to police. [Author Abstract]
Esbensen, F.A.(Principal Investigator), Osgood, W., Peterson, D., Taylor, T.J., Carson, D., Freng, A., & Matsuda, K. (2013). Final report: Process and outcome evaluation of the G.R.E.A.T. Program (Award No. 2006-JV-FX-0011) [Grant]. U.S. Department of Justice.