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Promising Program Seal

Wyman's Teen Outreach Program®

Blueprints Program Rating: Promising

A nine month program that engages high school students in a minimum of 20 hours of community service learning annually and weekly meetings using TOP's Changing Scenes curriculum, with a goal of reducing rates of teen pregnancy, course failure, and academic suspension.

Program Outcomes

  • Academic Performance
  • Teen Pregnancy

Program Type

  • Civic Responsibility/Education
  • Cognitive-Behavioral Training
  • Conflict Resolution
  • School - Individual Strategies
  • Skills Training
  • Social Emotional Learning

Program Setting

  • School

Continuum of Intervention

  • Universal Prevention (Entire Population)

Age

  • Late Adolescence (15-18) - High School

Gender

  • Male and Female

Race/Ethnicity

  • All Race/Ethnicity

Endorsements

  • Blueprints: Promising
  • Crime Solutions: Promising
  • OJJDP Model Programs: Effective
  • SAMHSA: 2.2-2.3

Program Information Contact

Felice McClendon
National Network Partner Development Manager
Wyman Center
600 Kiwanis Drive
St. Louis, Missouri 63025
Tel: 636-938-5245
Fax: 636-938-5289
Email: felice.mcclendon@wymancenter.org
Website: www.wymancenter.org

Program Developer/Owner

  • Joseph P. Allen
  • University of Virginia

Brief Description of the Program

Wyman’s Teen Outreach Program® (TOP®) is an evidence-based, national youth development program designed to prevent adolescent teen problem behaviors by helping high school youth (grades 9-12) develop healthy behaviors, life skills, and a sense of purpose. The nine month program focuses on engaging young people in a minimum of 20 hours of community service learning annually and weekly meetings using TOP’s Changing Scenes© curriculum. Group facilitators include teachers, guidance personnel, or youth workers who have been trained to facilitate the discussions outlined in the curriculum.

TOP® consists of three interrelated elements:

  • Community service learning, in which TOP® staff guide the youth in choosing, planning, implementing, reflecting on, and celebrating their service learning projects. Participants complete a minimum of 20 hours of service each year.
  • Curriculum-guided peer group meetings that address multiple important teen topics and include four years of unduplicated and age-appropriate materials that evoke the development of self-regulatory, social and emotional skills.
  • Positive adult guidance and support led by at least one, consistent and trained facilitator over the 9-month cycle.

See: Full Description

Outcomes

All four studies found at least weak to moderate overall effects in reducing the problem behaviors of teen pregnancy, course failure, and academic suspension.

Two studies assessed the effect of the Teen Outreach Program® on the three different problem behaviors:

  • The risk of pregnancy among Teen Outreach participants was 41% and 53% as large as the comparison group, respectively, in Allen et al. (1997) and Allen and Philliber (2001). The effect was larger among those who were already parents than among non-parents.
  • The risk of course failure was 42% and 60% as large as the comparison group, respectively, in Allen et al. (1997) and Allen and Philliber (2001).  The program was only successful for females. Also, minorities and those with prior academic suspensions benefitted more from the program than did whites and those without suspensions.
  • The risk of academic suspension was 39% and 52% as large as the comparison group, respectively, in Allen et al. (1997) and Allen and Philiber (2001).
  • No different effects were found for different demographic or behavioral factors.

Two studies approached problem behavior as a "syndrome" and used the sum of the number of problem behaviors as an outcome to judge the success of programs. These studies found:

  • Average number of volunteer hours was significantly associated with reducing problem behaviors.
  • Average number of classroom hours was significantly associated with reducing problem behaviors, especially among middle school students.
  • Differences in use of curriculum or in whether the program was offered for credit or as an after-school activity had no effect on outcomes (Allen et al. ,1990).
  • Among middle school students, programs that were viewed as promoting autonomy and relatedness through classroom experiences and quality volunteer experiences were significantly more effective in reducing problem behaviors.  This effect was not evident with high school aged youth (Allen et al., 1994).

Race/Ethnicity/Gender Details

Results provided by gender (male/female) and race (black/white/Hispanic/other).

Risk and Protective Factors

Risk Factors
  • School: Low school commitment and attachment
Protective Factors
  • Individual: Academic self-efficacy, Problem solving skills, Prosocial behavior*, Prosocial involvement*, Skills for social interaction
  • School: Opportunities for prosocial involvement in education*
  • Neighborhood/Community: Opportunities for prosocial involvement*, Rewards for prosocial involvement

*Risk/Protective Factor was significantly impacted by the program.

See also: Wyman's Teen Outreach Program® Logic Model (PDF)

Training and Technical Assistance

Teen Outreach Program® Facilitator Training is designed for those who will directly deliver TOP® to teens. The primary goal of this training is to prepare facilitators to begin their TOP® club(s) and to know where they can access additional information and support. Those supervising the implementation of TOP® may also benefit from attending so they are clear on the messages delivered in training.

TOP® Facilitator Training Content includes:

  • An orientation to TOP® including program history, core goals and principles, key outcomes, the TOP® fidelity model and an overview of how and why TOP® gets results
  • An introduction to the TOP® Changing Scenes Curriculum© and the modeling of two lessons
  • A review of Community Service Learning principles and practice building a service learning project with a group
  • Coaching and practice on facilitating sensitive subject matter
  • Values neutral facilitation
  •  A review of the experiential learning cycle and multiple intelligence theory with practice integrating both into lessons and service learning
  • An overview of operational, sequencing and routine considerations for planning a TOP® club
  • Teams of two to three training participants will prepare and practice facilitating a TOP® lesson
  • Consistent modeling, by trainers, of techniques for group engagement, processing learning, and integrating the three core components of TOP®

The TOP® Facilitator Training does not include:

  • Adolescent development
  • Group or classroom management
  • Positive discipline strategies

It is highly recommended that providers select facilitators with experience and proven skills working with teens. Wyman operates under the assumption that providers will hold their own staff orientations and trainings specific to the population they serve and the settings in which their programs operate.

Training Certification Process

The TOP® Training of Trainers is designed for those who will deliver the TOP® Facilitator Training in their network. The primary goal of this training is to prepare trainers to be able to deliver the content and approach of the TOP® Facilitator Training and to share where additional information and support may be found. Those supervising TOP® trainers may also benefit from attending so they are clear on the messages delivered in the training.

TOP® Training of Trainers content includes:

  • A complete modeling of the TOP® Facilitator Training (first 2.5 days). This is intended to demonstrate a clear set of expectations, training lessons, and messages for the training they will deliver. See the TOP® Facilitator Training overview for a list of content covered in this section.
  • A review of the schedule and content of the TOP® Facilitator Training with self-evaluation of those areas where participants feel confident and where additional training or support may be needed.
  • An exercise to examine leadership styles of participants and the impact of those styles on their approach to being a trainer.
  • A review of the logic models for TOP® and for the TOP® Facilitator Training.
  • An overview of the roles and responsibilities for each level of the National Network.
  • An introduction to TOPnetOnline - the website designed to support networking with Wyman, partners, providers and facilitators, to provide access to helpful information and resources, and to collect data from teens and facilitators that demonstrate fidelity and informs technical assistance and support.
  • Group discussion on training techniques, adult learning, training do’s and don’ts, and group management strategies for training.
  • Teams of two to three training participants will prepare and practice leading a TOP® Facilitator Training Lesson.
  • A discussion of next steps including the training test, which is emailed to participants the week following training.
  • New trainers are provided with all training lesson plans, background information for self-study, access to TOPnet Online materials, and two coaching calls – one before their first Facilitator Training and one afterward.

TOP® Training of Trainers content does not include the following and these can be addressed with individual partner technical assistance:

  • Specific partner contract and MOU discussions
  • Research and evaluation strategies for partners
  • Group planning time for teams from partner organizations

It is highly recommended that partners select trainers with experience and proven skills in facilitation and training adults. Wyman operates under the assumption that partners will hold their own staff orientations and trainings specific to planning and organizing their network of TOP® trainers, providers and clubs.

Brief Evaluation Methodology

The efficacy of the Teen Outreach Program has been typically studied using quasi-experimental designs. In these designs, students at each studied site were divided into Teen Outreach program groups and comparison groups. Youth in each group filled out confidential questionnaires within the first few weeks of the program/academic year and the last few weeks of the program/academic year. Data collected included sociodemographic characteristics, whether they had ever caused a pregnancy or been pregnant, whether they had failed any courses in the prior school year, and whether they had been suspended academically in the prior school year. The post-test changed the reference time period to the program/academic year itself. To determine the efficacy of the Teen Outreach program, the post-test data were compared across the two groups, controlling for past behaviors and individual characteristics.

Peer Implementation Sites

DeVonne Bernard
Director, Teen Outreach Program
Wyman Center
1401 LaSalle Lane, Suite 220
St. Louis, MO 63104
(314) 471-3864
Devonne.Bernard@wymancenter.org 

Alexandra Peralta
Program Performance Officer
Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County
2300 High Ridge Road
Boynton Beach, FL 33426
(561) 374-7612
Alexandra.Peralta@cscpbc.org

References

Allen, J., Kupermind, G., Philliber, S., & Herre, K. (1994). Programmatic prevention of adolescent problem behaviors: The role of autonomy, relatedness, and volunteer service in the Teen Outreach program.  American Journal of Community Psychology, 22(5), 617-639.

Allen, J. P. & Philliber, S. (2001). Who benefits most from a broadly targeted prevention program? Differential efficacy across populations in the Teen Outreach program. Journal of Community Psychology, 29(6), 637-655.

Allen, J., Philliber, S., Herrling, S., & Kuperminc, G. (1997). Preventing teen pregnancy and academic failure: Experimental evaluation of a developmentally based approach. Child Development, 64(4), 729-742.

Allen, J., Philliber, S., & Hoggson, N. (1990). School-based prevention of teen-age pregnancy and school dropout: Process evaluation of the national replication of the Teen Outreach program.  American Journal of Community Psychology, 29(4), 505-523.

Devine, S., Bull, S., Dreisbach, S., & Shlay, J. (2014). Enhancing a teen pregnancy prevention program with text messaging: Engaging minority youth to develop TOP® plus text. Journal of Adolescent Health, 54(3), S78-S83.