Evaluations of Innovative Programs
CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health (DASH) assists state and local education and health agencies, youth-serving community based organizations, and national non-governmental organizations with evaluations of innovative programs and policies that seek to improve the health and well-being of youth. These evaluations are also known as “applied evaluations.”
Applied evaluation is conducted through technical assistance to agencies or organizations implementing these initiatives and answers questions of interest to them. Applied evaluations involve non-experimental or quasi-experimental methods, with data collection typically lasting 12–24 months.
DASH staff select types of emerging youth health initiatives warranting further investigation. In the past, initiatives have included focus areas such as
- increasing physical activity;
- increasing quality of nutrition;
- providing a healthy school environment for lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth;
- managing asthma in the context of coordinated school health;
- and understanding necessary supports for implementing coordinated school health.
Current applied evaluations are focused on evaluating initiatives funded under DASH’s 1308 cooperative agreement. These evaluations are examining school-based and school-centered initiatives that increase access to HIV prevention services for young men who have sex with men (YMSM) and improve youth knowledge and decrease sexual risk behaviors through implementation of exemplary sexual health education, and use school-based strategies to increase youth access to health services related to HIV, STD, and pregnancy prevention.
DASH’s future applied evaluations will focus on initiatives to prevent HIV, other STDs, and unintended pregnancy among youth, and may be expanded to include initiatives not funded by DASH.
DASH typically identifies a broad topic for applied evaluation annually and specific initiatives that align with that topic are nominated to DASH staff for consideration.
Characteristics of Initiatives that Undergo Applied Evaluations
The initiative should
- Be well established, but lack rigorous evaluation.
- Focus on school-aged youth.
- Be likely to make a difference to decrease health risk behaviors leading to improved health status.
- Be structured such that researchers can identify comparison sites/groups.
- Address under-served populations and health disparities.