Project PATHE (Positive Action Through Holistic Education) was a universal, comprehensive, school organizational change program used in secondary schools to reduce school disorder, improve the school environment, reduce delinquency, increase educational and occupational attainment, and enhance students' positive experiences and attitudes about school. The program sought to reduce disorder by decreasing academic failure, increasing social bonding, and improving students’ self-concepts.
Program Theory and Target Population
Project PATHE draws from social control theory and the social development model. These theories believe that increasing pro-social attachment to others, commitment to socially appropriate goals, and involvement in conventional activities will help restrain youth from engaging in delinquent activities. Youth essentially become “bonded” to the social order and will have too much to lose if they engage in delinquent behavior or activities. The program targets all students in middle schools and high schools, serving large numbers of minority youths in inner cities and impoverished rural areas.
There are five major components of Project PATHE:
- staff, student, and community participation in planning
- school-wide organizational changes aimed at increasing academic performance
- school-wide organizational changes aimed at enhancing school climate
- programs to prepare students for careers
- academic and affective services for high-risk youths
For component 1, the project established and maintained a new organizational structure that helped facilitate shared decision making about the projects’ interventions amongst the students, staff, parents, and community agencies.
Component 2 was directed at improving school administration as well as the teacher’s academic abilities in the classroom. Curriculum guides were developed to assist staff in implementing new activities designed to strengthen the academic program, as well as new school and classroom rules, and standard discipline procedures. This component also set in place specific interventions for school-wide academic improvements through the development of mini-courses to teach study skills as well as Student Teacher Learning (STL) techniques. The STL teaching techniques involved teams of students, differing in ability levels, who studied and drilled together to prepare for quizzes and competitions with the other teams.
The third component involved the use of a School Pride Campaign where students and teachers gathered together to participate in activities aimed at improving the image of the school and expanded extra-curricular and peer counseling activities.
The fourth component used a cosponsored program called Career Exploration Programs that provided the high school students with opportunities to participate in activities that exposed them to a wide range of technical careers. Additionally, a Job-Seeking Skills Program was implemented that provided training for specific skills in finding and keeping a job.
Lastly, component 5 identified students eligible for direct services by reviewing selected students' school records that suggested problems in either academics of behaviors. These students then went through a diagnostic phase that led to the development of behavioral treatment objectives and academic and counseling services.
The program was implemented by Project PATHE trained program managers who assisted the schools on an on-going basis and worked with school staff to solve problems and meet program expectations.
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Although the Gottfredson (1986) study found a few significant differences between students in the treatment versus control groups, overall the preponderance of evidence suggests that this program was not effective in reducing juvenile delinquency.
There were no statistically significant differences found between participants in the treatment or control groups for serious delinquency.
The treatment group participants self-reported significantly more drug involvement (.25) than the control group participants (.19).
There were no statistically significant differences found between participants in the treatment or control groups for number of contact incidents with the courts.
There were no statistically significant differences found between participants in the treatment or control groups for number of suspensions.
The treatment group reported significantly fewer disciplinary infractions (.28) than the comparison group (.39), although this was a small effect.
There were no statistically significant differences found between participants in the treatment or control groups for average grades.
Fewer students in the treatment group scored in the bottom quartile (83%) than those in the control group (89%), although this was a small effect.
Attachment to School
There were no statistically significant differences found between participants in the treatment or control groups for level of attachment to school.
There were no statistically significant differences found between participants in the treatment or control groups for number of days absent from school.
There were no statistically significant differences found between participants in the treatment or control groups for educational expectations.
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