Findings and methodology are reported for a process and impact evaluation of the School Safety and Student Performance Program established in the School District of Palm Beach County (Florida) from 2015 to 2018 in an effort to improve at-risk students' behavior and academic performance, as well as to improve school-wide safety and academic performance.
The project involved a collaboration between the schools, the schools' police department, the juvenile court, and several service providers. The focus was on at-risk youth, including those with some type of contact with the police or the juvenile justice system through probation or diversion programs. The intervention placed juvenile probation officers (JPOs) in schools, along with family counselors and case managers. JPOs provided school-based supervision in schools only for the youth on probation. Intervention plans were developed by a team for youth who were randomly assigned to the intervention group. Student participation was voluntary, based on assent and consent protocols. Services were matched to the needs of each participant. Evaluation analyses suggest that although the intervention was well-grounded in theory and research on adolescent behavior, no consistent beneficial or adverse effects of the intervention were found for either student or school outcomes; however, some of the analyses suggest that the intervention may have been partially effective for some of the participants. The report notes that the process evaluation identified a number of potential intervention benefits that were not directly measured in the study, such as improved advocacy for at-risk students. The process evaluation also identified a range of factors that may have contributed to some of the null intervention effects. Evaluation methodology, research implications, and implications for policy and practice are discussed. Extensive tables and figures and 63 references