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Evaluation Report


Project LEAD Key Findings of the
Research-Based Evaluation and Proven Practices

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If every person would do Project LEAD, I think there would be less problems with drugs and gangs and everything because then everybody would know the consequences and what to do.
—Project LEAD Student

Background on Project LEAD Evaluation

In 2003 Constitutional Rights Foundation assisted the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office in revising Project LEAD. In addition to revising the curriculum materials, CRF and a team of researchers conducted an evaluation of the program to gauge its impact on students’ knowledge and attitudes about the legal system, as well as Project LEAD’s capacity as a delinquency prevention model.

The Findings

Project LEAD provides:

  • Protective factors that decrease students’ propensity to become involved in negative and illegal activities.
  • An increase in students' knowledge about the legal system.
  • An increase in positive dispositions:

- Confidence in their own decision-making capacities.
- Attitudes about the legal system.
- Attitudes about authority.

The Study

Project LEAD’s evaluation was conducted by outside researchers who have experience in civic and law-related education studies.

The study used a quasi-experimental design:

  • Pre- and Post-testing of students using validated items.
  • Matched comparison/intervention groups.
  • Teacher interviews.
  • Facilitator interviews.
  • Student interviews and problem-solving/decision-making test.

The evaluation looked at several things:

  • Student outcomes.
  • Satisfaction of teachers and facilitators with Project LEAD.
  • Fidelity of implementation.
  • Practices that could be attributed to student outcomes.

Key Practices Embedded in Project LEAD

  1. Interactive instruction about the law and legal system.
  2. Opportunities for students to discuss issues that matter to them.
  3. Forming a trusting relationship with adults from the legal field.  (This is key, especially when students are learning refusal skills and other prevention concepts.)
  4. Inclusion of refusal skills (F.I.N.A.L.) as opposed to “just say no” messaging.
  5. Opportunities for students to participate in decision-making, and activities that promote tolerance for diversity and motivation to succeed in school.  
  6. Simulation and role play activities. These activities promote the assets described in #4 and #5 above.

These practices have been proven through additional research in law-related and civic education studies conducted throughout the nation.


Considerations for Project LEAD Implementers

  • Fidelity of implementation is important, but this does not mean everyone has to be “lock-step.” As long as the research-based practices remain intact, it’s okay to be creative.
  • The Project LEAD lessons are developmental, so be careful about skipping lessons and jumping around the curriculum too much.
  • When you find new ways of doing things that work well, let us know. To know that something is “working well,” check for student understanding, motivation to learn and participate, and teachers’ perceptions of what you did.

The methods in the Project LEAD lessons are solid, but you may come up with strategies that are just as effective.

Before Project LEAD I thought lawyers were not that important.  But now I do and the thing I like about them is that they always teach us to do the right thing. And they tell us if you do this you'll get a bad choice and you'll never go to college or you'll never learn. I want to be a lawyer because I want to be able to help other people. —Project LEAD Student

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