Five Years of Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Education: Assessing the Impact [PDF]
Name of Program: Students Today Aren't Ready for Sex (STARS)
Federal Funding Source: Section 510(b) of Title V of the Social Security Act (entitlement for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs established under "Welfare Reform")
Funds Allocated: In federal fiscal year 2003, Oregon received $460,076 in Title V abstinence-only until marriage funds. The state allocated an additional $345,057 in state funds to the program. Thus a total of $805,133 in federal and state funds was allocated in fiscal year 2003.
Program Reach/Program Components:STARS is an abstinence-only program aimed at sixth and seventh graders and taught by youth four to six years older. The curriculum is adapted from Postponing Sexual Involvement (without a contraceptive component) and includes classroom sessions presented once a week over a five-week period. The program was implemented in 18 cities and delivered in elementary and middle schools throughout Oregon.
Target Population: Sixth graders (primarily) and seventh graders, average age 12
Timing of Program/Evaluation: Spring 2000
Evaluation Design: Pretest/posttest survey design with the same group of 1,396 students, drawn from a random sample of 20 schools across Oregon. No comparison group was used. (Results of a follow-up survey may be available in late 2004 but were not available at the time of publication of this document.) Of students surveyed, 63 percent were sixth graders and 37 percent were seventh graders.
Findings: Survey results demonstrated statistically significant improvement in knowledge and in attitudes concerning peer pressure and refusal of unwanted sexual pressure. There was no evidence of a program effect on students' intention to be sexually involved in the future, possibly because such a large proportion of participants (90 percent) indicated at pretest that they intended to wait until they were older to have sex. However, three questions were asked about behavioral intentions: 1) I want to wait until I am older to have sex (slight increase in the desired direction from pre- to posttest, ', ', ', ', ', ', ', ', ', ', ', ', ', ', ', ', ', ', '); 2) If someone wanted to have sex with you before you start high school, what would you do? (slight decrease in the percent answering they definitely or probably would not, ', ', ', ', ', ', ', ', ', ', ', ', ', ', ', ', ', ', '); and 3) How likely do you think it is that you will have sex while you are a teenager? (slight increase in the percent indicating "won't"). "These changes were small over time and no clear pattern emerged over the three items."
Significant Quote from Authors of the Evaluation Study:
- There was no evidence that the STARS program had an influence on the group of items measuring behavioral intention related to sexual involvement... In fact, it may be very difficult for [sixth grade] students to project what they will do in the future compared with their current knowledge, attitudes, or behaviors… Of course, another explanation is that the program doesn't have as large an influence on intention as it does on knowledge and attitudes. [p. 16-17]
- "There are negligible differences over time… which suggests that theSTARSprogram had no influence on behavioral intentions…" [p.10]
Return to Introduction
Hauser D. Five Years of Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Education: Assessing the Impact. Washington, DC: Advocates for Youth, 2004.