(Note: Opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of ETR as an agency.)
By Marcia Quackenbush, MS, MFT, MCHES | October 25, 2016
Senior Editor, ETR
The tragedy of opioid addiction is not new. When I was a teen, my sisters and I lost two friends to heroin overdoses.
And I still remember the time one of my closest friends told me about the night she tried some drugs with her boyfriend, a heroin addict, and almost died. When she stopped breathing, he didn’t want to call for help because he was afraid he’d be arrested.
No, opioids and heroin are not new. But today’s epidemic is different, and it’s become much worse.
By Cody Sigel, MPH, CHES and Tracy Wright, MAED | October 20, 2016
Professional Development Consultant and Project Director, ETR
Originally published here on Beth Kanter's blog.
The first time you facilitate a training, you start developing your own personal list of tips for great facilitation. You try out some things that work, and they go on your list (“I can’t wait to try that again!”). Chances are you also try out some things that don’t work, and they go somewhere else.
Some go into the trash (“I am never again going to ask people to take off their shoes as a way to break into small groups!”). And some go onto a wait-and-see list (“How come that worked so well when I watched Deb do it, and it was such a flop when I tried it?”).
By Jill Denner, PhD | October 17, 2016
Senior Research Scientist, ETR
Computer science for all? If you’ve been reading the headlines, you have seen the explosion of articles. Proponents argue we must offer computer science (CS) education to all students, in a combination of school and afterschool programs. At first glance, making CS available to all sounds like a great idea. But there have been concerns about what this looks like in practice.
By ETR | October 13, 2016
We hear regularly from customers about our health education materials. Sometimes they share praise and compliments for a product they’ve found helpful. Sometimes they ask for a new title or resource they need. And sometimes they offer constructive feedback about something that doesn’t quite work in their situation.
We’ve also gotten some really vitriolic criticism from vapers, who tend to dislike our public health messages about e-cigarettes.
By Jim Pickett | October 11, 2016
Director of Prevention Advocacy and Gay Men's Health, AIDS Foundation of Chicago
PrEP has altered the landscape in HIV prevention in extraordinary and profound ways. It’s changing the lives of vulnerable individuals. It’s also bringing about big changes for the HIV workforce—health care providers, prevention specialists, outreach workers, social workers, educators and more. In fact, I believe we’ve entered the most dynamic period in our fight against HIV since 1996, when the advent of highly active antiretroviral therapy revolutionized treatment and saved countless lives.
By Jennifer Salerno, DNP | October 6, 2016
Founder, Possibilities for Change
Whether you’re a parent or an individual who works with youth, you are placed in an influential role to help keep teens safe and healthy. But that’s no easy task!
Risky behaviors account for the majority of teen injury and premature death. In the face of these challenges, educators, providers and parents need concrete strategies to support teens in smart decision making.
By Eloy Ortiz, MURP | October 4, 2016
Research Associate, ETR
Our nation has a vital interest in building a better pipeline to careers in STEM. However, females, Blacks and Latinos are substantially underrepresented in tech professions. ETR has had a longstanding commitment to exploring ways to boost the presence of women and underrepresented minorities in the tech world. A number of our research projects explore strategies to support a more diverse presence in the field.
Our Math Pathways project seeks to provide some pieces in the puzzle of identifying the factors that will help Latino students succeed in math. We know it’s important to build and sustain math confidence early in children’s education. Most students who decide to focus on STEM studies make that choice during high school, and increasingly, STEM competence is seen as a necessary emphasis for all students, from pre-K through grade 12.
By Elidia Moctezuma | September 29, 2016
Research Assistant, ETR
I love research! That’s not something I knew, or even imagined, when I started my college career. Thanks to the guidance of some outstanding teachers and mentors, I’m now ready to make research the focus of my career.
I started out as a psychology major at California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB). I had to read some research articles in my lower division courses, but they didn’t really give me a sense of the true nuts-and-bolts of the process.
Then I had an opportunity to join a research lab affiliated with the university. On my first day of lab, I was anxious and worried. I expected everyone else would be way ahead of me. Was I in over my head?
By John Henry Ledwith | September 27, 2016
Senior Sales Manager, ETR
What’s the true value of a comprehensive school health program? I have a surprisingly simple answer: it’s a matter of life.
This came home to me starkly the other day as I sat with a group of people who had been an integral part of my sons’ childhood and teen years. Here were some of their coaches, many of their friends, the parents of their friends. And my boys, too, now young men in their 20’s.
We had come to honor and remember a friend and former teammate who had taken his own life the previous week. We sat baffled and heartsick as we listened to this young man’s father, reaching out to the people in the room, appealing to us: “Please, do not focus on this one bad decision, this momentary impulse, of my son’s life. Do not let that define who he was and the memories you carry onward. He was so much more than this!”
By Pamela Jakwerth Drake, PhD, & Marcia Quackenbush, MS, MFT, MCHES | September 22, 2016
Senior Research Scientist & Senior Editor, ETR
First published on the EdSurge blog on July 20, 2016.
Students hold a lot of useful information that you can use to find out all kinds of things. Assess school climate or student engagement. Identify teaching strategies kids like best. Measure health behaviors and attitudes. Learn more about student interests. If you can gather this information, it can help you make better decisions about students.
Do you want to find out whether students feel their teachers are doing a good job of teaching? Whether students feel safe at school? Would you like to know students’ level of engagement and sense of belonging at the school? Do you want to gain a better understanding of student health risk behaviors so you can focus your health education programming in an efficient way?
A survey may be your answer.
By Jill Glassman, PhD | September 20, 2016
Senior Research Associate, ETR
The field of teen pregnancy prevention (TPP) has experienced some impressive achievements over the past decades. By examining the evidence from evaluation studies, we’ve been able to identify programs showing effectiveness in reducing sexual risk taking among broadly defined populations of at-risk youth. ETR scientist Dr. Douglas Kirby was instrumental in developing and disseminating a list of effective characteristics for sexual health education programs, and in disseminating information about risk and protective factors that are key to our understanding of how these programs work.
The majority of these TPP programs originally were developed for high-school-age youth. More recently, however, there has been a shift to earlier pregnancy prevention efforts focusing on younger adolescents (10-14 year olds). Fewer of these youth are already engaging in the targeted sexual risk behaviors.
By Erica Marsh | September 15, 2016
Project Coordinator, ETR
What’s new and different about it? We’re using a curriculum called Science of Baseball as the foundation, and we’ll be doing a formal evaluation of its efficacy.
The existing Science of Baseball curriculum represents a collaboration between Science of Sport, Major League Baseball, and several MLB franchises, including the Arizona Diamondbacks. It empowers students to improve academic performance and confidence in science and math through experiential learning of baseball concepts.
So let’s play ball! We hope to show that curve balls and strike zones blend very nicely with geometry, biomechanics, data visualization, aerodynamics and other STEM topics.
By Kymm Ballard, EdD | September 13, 2016
Executive Director, SPARK
Ask an educator, “What do you most want for your students?” Chances are the answer will be, “Success.”
The math teacher wants students to master the concepts in the semester’s curriculum. The health education teacher wants students to learn how to establish healthy habits and make good choices about risks. The PE teacher might focus on building sports skills and encouraging a commitment to lifelong physical activity. The principal might address a combination of academic learning and positive social connection.
By Cody Sigel, MPH, CHES | September 9, 2016
Professional Development Consultant, ETR
Have you ever been to a truly extraordinary training event? The kind where you actually look forward to completing the feedback form at the end because you’ve learned so much and had such a great experience?
Those are the kinds of trainings I love to attend, and also the kind I love to deliver. Here at ETR, we strive to make every training event we deliver the kind that makes our participants feel equipped, confident and inspired to do their best work and have the most impact. As a training team we never stop working on continuous improvement efforts that make this a reality.
By Marcia Quackenbush, MS, MFT, MCHES | September 6, 2016
Senior Editor, ETR
In 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved oral Truvada for pre-exposure prophylaxis of HIV (PrEP). In a very short period of time, PrEP has substantially changed the HIV prevention landscape. It’s effective (when taken) and has an excellent safety profile.
How well is it working in different populations? I took a quick dive into some recent reports to get an update.
By BA Laris, MPH | September 2, 2016
Research Associate, ETR
The other day I was part of a group text that made me want to laugh, cry, celebrate and scream all at the same time. My 19-year-old son had shared a photo of his first day in his biology lecture hall. He included an estranged family member. I had once told him I wished this person was more integrated into “normal” family exchanges.
Once again, I found that my son has the uncanny ability to push me to grow and accept, challenge myself, and live my principles—more than any other person I have ever met personally or professionally.
And that brings me right to the point of this post: situational leadership.
By Joan Singson and Suzanne Schrag | August 31, 2016
Program Manager and Editor/Product Manager, ETR
Do you like stories? Most people do, and, like Peter Seller’s character in Being There, “We like to watch.” Many of the evidence-based programs (EBPs) being used across the country, including many that ETR distributes, incorporate DVDs. Videos can be a useful and engaging strategy to hold participants’ attention, encourage fruitful discussions and allow youth to personalize information by relating to the characters’ stories and situations.
One of the most frequent questions we get concerning program adaptations relates to videos—in particular, whether videos can be left out or replaced with other videos. Often the question arises when facilitators do not think the included videos are representative of the youth they serve.
Here are some options to consider (and to discuss with program officers) when thinking about adaptations around videos.
Sign up for our free webinar, ETR Evidence-Based Programs Revisions Booster. This one-hour event will review recent revisions to our EBPs and answer questions. Wednesday, September 21, 10:00–11:00 am Pacific Standard Time. Learn more and register here.
By Vignetta Charles, PhD | August 29, 2016
Chief Science Officer, ETR
Do you work with adolescents? Have you ever faced situations like these?
Sofia is an excellent student, popular on campus and a delightful member of your peer health educator program. She knows everything about birth control, STI prevention and making smart choices. She loves educating her peers. She and her boyfriend come to see you one afternoon and tell you they are pregnant.
We recently collaborated with the California School Based Health Alliance on a webinar describing and applying the new insights in developmental neuroscience. Our goal is to re-think and re-envision how we educate, raise and care for young people on their path to lifelong health and wellbeing. You can find links to the webinar recording and slides ("Survive or Thrive? Using Neuroscience to Re-Envision Adolescent Success") and information about other upcoming CSBHA webinars here.
By Cassidey Streber, MA | August 25, 2016
Program Coordinator, Youth Services of Tulsa, Adolescent Health/PregNOT
A student I’ll call Shay came in and sat at the back of my classroom. It was the first class meeting. Other students came bounding in, adding a bit of lively chaos to the mix.
I surveyed the students as they settled and we got started. I took note of Shay in particular. Shoulders up. Sighing. Arms crossed. Uncrossed. Looking out the window. Scribbling on a piece of paper. Not interacting with other students. Not looking at me. Not really there.
And then, as we got into the lesson, something happened. Shay sat up and began to watch me. Eyes furrowed, then a smile, then—amazingly—a question and comment from this student. Shay had become part of the class and was engaged in the lesson.
I know exactly what brought Shay into the process. In my language and the activities I brought to the class, I was offering a setting that was inclusive, authentic and safe for students of any sexual identity or gender. Shay, a student from the LGBTQ community, experienced the class as relevant and welcoming.
Cassidey Streber was one of the presenters in a recent webinar hosted by the Office of Adolescent Health. It is called, “How to Make it Happen: LGBTQ Inclusivity.” You can find links to the slides, audio recording and written transcript here. (Scroll down to June 2, 2016.)
By Pamela Anderson, PhD, and Marcia Quackenbush, MS, MFT, MCHES | August 23, 2016
Senior Research Associate and Senior Editor, ETR
What comes to mind when you hear the words “sex trafficking”?
If you’re like a lot of people, you might think of a sinister alley in a foreign country serving as the local red light district. Or you might imagine a woman who comes to the U.S. with hopes of a better life for herself and her family who is then forced to sell her body to pay debt bondage. Maybe you think of a young woman violently forced by a hated pimp to work the streets.
While all of these images do constitute forms of sex trafficking, they barely begin to tell the story. And as these disturbing pictures run through our minds, few of us add to our list the children and teens in our own communities. We aren’t likely to think of the students in our classrooms as they navigate the Internet or check their social network sites.
By ETR | August 17, 2016
One of ETR’s areas of focus is Diversity in IT. Our team is nationally known for its work in research, evaluation and promoting strategies to increase diversity in STEM fields. They’ve done original research, developed and tested programs and learning approaches, and built partnerships that boost pathways from school to college to the workforce.
The team has also developed three tip sheets that can help boost the efficacy of school- and community-based programs with youth. See them all on this page, or go to the individual pages below.
By John Henry Ledwith | August 11, 2016
Senior Sales Manager, ETR
Someone asked me the other day, “Why are you such an evangelist for HealthSmart?” Actually, I get this question a lot. HealthSmart is ETR’s premiere health education program, and I talk about it all the time—not just as part of my job, but as part of my life.
If a friend mentions a disturbing new report about school bullying, or brings up the latest statistics about teens and tobacco, I’m likely to say, “You know, HealthSmart has some great lessons on exactly that topic!” If someone tells me their kids are attending a new school, I ask, “Are they using HealthSmart for their health education program?”
Sure. I’m an evangelist. But I’m a health education evangelist. I believe health is one of the most important topics we can bring to our children and youth. It can literally make life-and-death differences for them. And I happen to think that HealthSmart is absolutely the best health education program out there.
By ETR | August 8, 2016
For most of her life, Narinder Dhaliwal has been an enthusiastic advocate for tobacco control. “I watched my grandfather slowly kill himself by smoking one or two packs a day,” she explains.
Some of the effects left a strong impression on Narinder. “His fingers on both hands were stained yellow. His lips were close to black. He was always surrounded by the smell of stale tobacco.”
Her grandfather paid the highest possible price for smoking. “He worked his whole life at the Ford car factory. He finally retired at age 60. He never got to cash his first pension check. He died of a massive heart attack while on holiday in India. That check arrived after he died.”
It is no surprise that, after this experience, Narinder has brought a particular devotion to her work as Director of ETR’s Tobacco Education Clearinghouse (TECC).
By Shannon Campe | August 2, 2016
Research Associate, ETR
Fifteen years ago, ETR started working with middle school girls to help them build computer programming skills and confidence. This was Girls Creating Games, a project where girls designed and programmed their own games. It was one of the earliest projects in our Diversity in IT group.
By John Shields, PhD, MSW | July 28, 2016
Senior Research Associate, ETR
Recent publications have focused our nation’s attention on ensuring the safety and well-being of transgender students. We have been encouraged to safeguard their full access to all educational programs and activities.
In their “Dear Colleague” letter of May 2016, the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education have issued clear principles designed to “help ensure that transgender students enjoy a supportive and nondiscriminatory school environment.” In July, the California School Board Association released “Updated Legal Guidance” to help California school districts move from principle to practice.
Many (but not all) school districts are endeavoring with great sincerity to turn these principles into policies and procedures. However, they quickly encounter a significant technical barrier—the sex-binary nature of Student Information Systems (SISs). These databases are commonly used by districts to house students’ demographic information, attendance, class schedules, grades and other performance indicators.
Given this new guidance on transgender students, there are at least three basic functionalities that are immediately needed in the SISs used by Districts across the country.