Program

May 25, 2012

OVERVIEW

The Summer Training and Education Program (STEP) is designed to minimize academic losses during summer vacation from school, and to prevent pregnancy and resultant school dropout, in low-achieving, at-risk adolescents. The program operates on the school and community levels, providing remedial education, life skills training, part-time summer jobs, and contact with the program throughout the school year. Experimental evaluations of the program show that participation in STEP some had positive impacts in the short-term, including higher reading grades, math grades, and contraceptive knowledge. However, STEP had no lasting effects on participants 2 to 3 years after the program in educational outcomes, employment, welfare participation, or reproductive behaviors. Only test scores on knowledge of responsible social and sexual behavior remained higher at follow-up.

DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM

Target population: Program participants were 14- to 15-year-old low-achieving adolescents from poor families.

The Summer Training and Education Program (STEP) is designed to minimize adolescents’ loss of academic knowledge during summer vacation from school, and to prevent pregnancy and resultant school dropout. STEP teaches technical, education, and life skills, including instruction on contraceptive availability and use. The program operates on the school level, employing innovative curricula, teaching methods, computer-assisted instruction, and providing contact with the program throughout the school year. STEP also operates on the community level, where local employment and training agencies provide part-time summer work for participants.

Component Provided by Duration Description
Remediation Local school district 90 hours, 2 summers Innovative curricula and teaching methods; and computer-assisted instruction focused on reading and math skills and higher-order thinking
Part-time summer work Local employment and training agencies 90 hours, 2 summers Minimum wage, part-time
Life skills Local school district 18 hours, 2 mornings per week High-engagement summer classes focusing on life issues such as sexual behavior, drug use, careers, and community involvement
Support during school year Local school district Average 5-15 hours per year Infrequent contact during school year. One-on-one adult contact, recreation, and other noneducational activities.

The Summer Training and Education Program served 20,000 adolescents at 100 separate locations, nationwide, through 1991.
Cost: Cost for the whole 15-month treatment, which included two summers and an active school-year support component, was $1,600 per enrollee in 1986. 

EVALUATION(S) OF PROGRAM

Study 1: Sipe, C. L.; Grossman, J. B.; Milliner, J. A. (1987). Summer training and education program (STEP): Report on the 1986 experience. Philadelphia, PA: Public/Private Ventures

Evaluated population: Cohort II: 1,268 youth ages 14 to 15 from low-income families performing below grade-level in reading or math. The sample was 53 percent female, 46 percent Black, 19 percent Hispanic, 18 percent Asian, and 17 percent White or other.

Approach: Youth were randomly assigned to the treatment or control group. Treatment group participants divided their time between classes and work experience; control group participants spent all their time in work experience provided by the federal summer jobs program. Both groups were administered the Metropolitan Achievement Test (MAT) to assess baseline reading and math abilities and re-tested at the end of the summer. Questionnaires were completed in conjunction with testing and collected information on demographics, attitudes, knowledge and behaviors relevant to the program.

Results: The STEP intervention had a positive impact on reading and math test scores, however, impacts on reading scores varied by race/ethnicity. STEP participants’ reading scores dropped less by the end of the summer than control participants’. STEP participants math scores rose over the summer, while control participants’ math scores dropped. Sub-group analyses by demographic variables showed that the impacts of STEP on math scores were significant for both genders and all races. The STEP impacts on reading scores were significant for both genders, Asian and Black participants, but not for Hispanic and white participants. STEP had a positive impact on school re-enrollment only for Hispanic participants. STEP did not have an impact on educational expectations or attitudes.

STEP also had positive impacts on participants’ knowledge of contraceptives and the consequences of teen pregnancy. However, STEP did not have an impact on participants’ sexual activity or contraceptive use.

Study 2: Walker, G., & Vilella-Velez, F. (1992). Testing the model. In Anatomy of a demonstration: The Summer Training and Education Program (STEP) from pilot through replication and postprogram impacts. Philadelphia: Public/Private Ventures.

Evaluated population: Cohorts II and III: 2,519 low-income youth ages 14-15 at the beginning of program. The sample was 49 percent Black, 19 percent Asian, 18 percent Hispanic, and 14 percent White or other. Fifty-one percent of participants were from female-headed households.

Approach: The objective of the evaluation was to assess the short-term (post-test) impacts of the program on participants in terms of schooling and academic performance, adolescent pregnancy and parenthood and to assess the feasibility of implementing the model in various settings and on a large scale. The evaluation used several measurement instruments, including summer tests (Metropolitan Achievement Test), participant questionnaires, program records and school records. Participants were randomly assigned to intervention and control groups. The full program lasted 15 months and was conducted mainly during summer months. Control group youth participated in the local Summer Youth Employment and Training Program (SYETP) program. At two sites, controls were also guaranteed a SYETP job for the second summer. The return rate for participants who completed the first summer was 75 percent; intensive outreach efforts were required to achieve this rate.

Results: By the end of the 15-month program, the STEP intervention increased reading grades, math grades, and contraceptive knowledge. The program did not, however, change teens’ sexual activity, use of contraception, or births.

Study 3: Walker, G., & Vilella-Velez, F. (1992). Long-term impacts. In Anatomy of a demonstration: The Summer Training and Education Program (STEP) from pilot through replication and postprogram impacts. Philadelphia: Public/Private Ventures.

Evaluated population: This is a follow-up study to Study 2, described above. Details about the evaluated population remain the same.

Approach: Participants were randomly assigned to intervention and control groups. Post-program data were collected through follow-up interviews and high school transcripts. Post-program data was collected 3.25 years after program ended for cohort II and 2.25 years after program ended for cohort III.

Results:  After the program ended, impacts decayed rapidly. No long-term impacts were found on grades, test scores, dropout rate, college attendance, sexual behavior, teen pregnancy rate, post-high school employment rate, and welfare receipt two and three years after the program ended. STEP participants did have increased knowledge of responsible social and sexual behavior.

SOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION

References:

Sipe, C. L.; Grossman, J. B.; Milliner, J. A. (1986). Summer training and education program (STEP): Report on the 1986 experience. Philadelphia, PA: Public/Private Ventures

Walker, G., & Vilella-Velez, F. (1992). Testing the model. In Anatomy of a demonstration: The Summer Training and Education Program (STEP) from pilot through replication and postprogram impacts. Philadelphia: Public/Private Ventures.

Walker, G., & Vilella-Velez, F. (1992). Long-term impacts. In Anatomy of a demonstration: The Summer Training and Education Program (STEP) from pilot through replication and postprogram impacts. Philadelphia: Public/Private Ventures.

KEYWORDS: Adolescents (12-17), Middle School, Males and Females (co-ed), Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, Asian, High-Risk, Urban, Summer Program, Vocational Learning, School-based, Cost Information is Available, Other reproductive health, Teen Pregnancy, Sexual activity, Condom use and contraception, births, Reading/Literacy, Mathematics, High School Completion/Dropout, College Enrollment/Preparation, Academic Achievement/Grades, Employment, Public Assistance

Program information last updated 5/25/12.