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Bachelor of Art, Metropolitan State University of Minnesota, 2003
Master of Business Administration, Argosy University, 2005

A Paper Submitted to Dr. John Headlee of Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree DOCTOR OF EDUCATION


Copyright © 2006

Alyou Alem Tebeje



Building an Asset-based Program for St Louis Park High School’s 9th Grade



The goals of the program SLHS are to increase assets among all 9th grader students at Saint Louis Park High School (SLHS) with the long-term goal of decrease alcohol, tobacco and other drug use, reduce academic failure, improve attendance and decrease number of discipline referrals. Building assets with and for SLHS students and teens requires a personal commitment from parents, young people, teachers, coaches, mentors, business owners; youth group organizers, recreation staff, neighbors and caring adults to reduce tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drug use and even violence through classroom based approaches that focus on teaching students.

Statement of the Problem

The problem of young students’ drug and alcohol use and abuse has been problematic in Schools for the past four decades. Research shows early use of tobacco and alcohol use places adolescents at high risk for use of illicit drugs, chemical dependency, dropping out of school, and legal problems. This research supports the concept that if students feel wanted and useful to their community, they are less likely to exhibit negative behaviors.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the study is to determine if there is a change in correlations between risk taking behavior and developmental assets for the 9th grade students of SLHS (Black, 1999).  The study presented by both speakers study aimed to determine the most effective method on students in grades 9th in SLHS over the past year had a significant effect in increasing adolescent developmental assets and a direct negative correlation of assets with alcohol and drug use risk taking behavior.

Null Hypotheses

There is no statistically significant difference between developmental assets scores in the SLHS 9th grade students between 2001 and 2002 (Fraenkel & Wallen, 2006). There is no statistically significant difference between risk-taking alcohol and drug use behavior scores in the SLHS for students between 2001 and 2002.

Chapter Two

Review of the Literature

There are also many health risks associated with illicit drug use. Early smokers and drinkers have substantially elevated risks for increased drug use and a variety of other high-risk behaviors such as violence, unsafe sex, and dropping out of school. Curbing alcohol and cigarette use among these high-risk youth when they are in middle school may help prevent the emergence of more serious problems later on (Zimmerman, 1997).. The most common drugs used by high school students in SLHS are marijuana.

In Minnesota boys were slightly more likely than girls to report marijuana use. According to Minnesota student survey1998 and 2001 of substance use among the 9th grade students showed that in 2001 about 30% male and 30% female students had already tried alcohol, about 20% male and 19% female had tried cigarettes, and nearly 16% male and 13% female had tried marijuana. SLHS assets’ building reduces marijuana and cigarette initiation, alcohol misuse, and recent as well as regular cigarette use. The physical problems associated with illicit drug use are numerous and vary depending on the type of drug used. Physical problems can include: abnormal heart rates, seizures, kidney failure, respiratory failure, and brain damage (Zimmerman, 1997).

According to Office of National Drug Control Policy additionally, youth who use illicit drugs have higher death rates than do their peers because of increased risk of accidents, suicide, homicide, and illness. There are also many mental health problems that are linked to illicit drug use including (Zimmerman, 1997): depression, anxiety, paranoia, hallucinations, developmental lags, delusions, and mood disturbances. Students typically hold exaggerated beliefs about how many students really drink, how often they drink, and how much they drink. They tend to believe that everyone’s doing it (Hansen & Graham, 1991). An effective method of reducing tobacco use and alcohol consumption among 9th grade students has been among the first priority for SHLS.

These factors include characteristics of school and classroom environments as well as individual-level school-related experiences and attitudes, peer group experiences, and personal values, attitudes, and beliefs (Hansen & Graham, 1991). School environment factors related to delinquency include availability of drugs, alcohol, and others such as weapons; characteristics of the classroom and school social organization such as strong academic mission and administrative leadership; and a climate of emotional support. School-related experiences and attitudes which often precede delinquency include poor school performance and attendance, low attachment to school, and low commitment to schooling (Zimmerman, 1997).

According to Hansen & Graham, (1991), peer-related experiences, many of which are school-centered, include rejection by peers and association with delinquent peers. And individual factors include early problem behavior, impulsiveness or low levels of self-control, rebellious attitudes, beliefs favoring law violation, and low levels of social competency skills such as identifying likely consequences of actions and alternative solutions to problems, taking the perspective of others, and correctly interpreting social cues.

By far the strongest correlates of school disorder are characteristics of the population and community contexts in which schools are located. Schools in urban, poor, disorganized communities experience more disorder than other schools (Gottfredson & Gottfredson, 1985). Research has also demonstrated that the human resources needed to implement and sustain school improvement efforts — leadership, teacher morale, teacher mastery, school climate, and resources — are found less often in urban than in Figure other schools (Gottfredson & Gottfredson).

It is precisely those schools whose populations are most in need of prevention and intervention services that are least able to provide those services. Although schools can not be expected to reverse their communities’ problems, they can influence their own rates of disorder (Zimmerman, 1997). Controlling on relevant characteristics of the larger community, characteristics of schools and the way they are run explain significant amounts of variation in school rates of disorderly behavior (Gottfredson & Gottfredson, 1985).


The research suggests that a youth development framework emphasizing youth assets may be a promising intervention strategy for preventing adolescent risk behaviors. Understanding how neighborhood and community resources relate to youth assets may aid in identifying environmental strategies to complement individually-oriented asset-building interventions. Numerous studies were found between selected youth assets and parental perceptions of neighborhood and community resources. Findings suggest that neighborhood and community-level influences should be considered when designing youth development interventions to reduce risk behaviors.



SLHS data that should be analyzed at the classroom or school level are instead analyzed at the individual level. School-based prevention programs are usually administered to intact classrooms or schools and these larger units are usually assigned to treatment and control conditions. But most studies, conducted with limited funding, involve relatively small numbers of classes or schools. Effect sizes are usually underestimated because they use the larger individual-level standard deviation estimates rather than the smaller standard error estimates for classrooms or schools.

The SLHS assets building model appear to be the three main columns: Inputs, Outputs, and Outcomes. For any program, we are concerned with what we need to do the job, what we will do, who will participate, and to what ends. The situation, assumptions, and environment sections are important, however, that these are critical elements to the process and need to be addressed up front, directly, and until consensus is reached.

Data collection

Data were collected from SLHS students, community members and their parents using in-home, in-person interviews. Logistic regression analyses, stratifying by parent household status, were conducted. Based on my hypothesis there were three studies were conducted, including a study of 300 randomly selected SLHS 9th grade students (Mean age = 15 years; 50% female; 50% white, 20% black, 20% Hispanic, 10% Native American), using in-person interviews, to develop an asset instrument tool. Factor analysis was performed on a correlation matrix.

Biases of the data

The assumptions about where expertise lies and how we will work together set the tone for our working relationships. Mutual respect and value of the contributions of each party can determine the success or failure of the 9th grade asset building process. If SLHS Asset Building Committee and community group feel that their local issues and concerns are not heard, because the specialist and only wants to use them to collect data, or if the specialist does not trust that the survey administration will be done under acceptable conditions the project is doomed. For example, activities that were keys to the success of this project are open discussion about who owns the data and who can release results to the SLHS Asset Building, continuous communication and community visits by the specialist, and the agents work to build trust between the community group and the school.

Analysis of Environmental conditions

The SLHS Asset Building environment was characterized by a group of committed individuals who wanted to address multiple categories of risk and resilience with one comprehensive survey that would inform their programming efforts. In using the SLHS Asset Building model, sample activities involved the agent accurately assessing the school environment and situation to determine the appropriateness and timing of this project, and the agent and the specialist combining research, literature review, survey construction, networking, and outreach skills for the purpose of action research that benefit both and fulfill their responsibilities.

Time, expertise and skill, and funding are the obvious inputs required for most projects, and they are required here. The agent had to free about 20 percent of her time to devote to this project. That meant she had to prioritize and move other responsibilities to concentrate on this project to assure its success. The specialist scheduled several community visits to meet with the community committee, work with them to revise the survey, and meet with the agent to facilitate the process. She also had to work with graduate research assistants who would clean and analyze the data and work on the report. Local investment of funds to pay for the printing, scanning, analysis, and reporting were secured and heightened the local sense of ownership.

This project, like most in Extension, is driven by a variety of activities. Principal activities included regular meetings of the community committee, informing and involving stakeholders throughout the process, revising the survey, getting school board approval and parent consent, providing students with contacts to be used if the survey brought up issues that they wanted to talk about, teacher training, data analyses, report writing, dissemination of results and responding to the survey results with media releases, funding proposals, program development and implementation, follow-up evaluation, and anonymous use of the data for scholarly papers. One of the keys to success was deciding who the stakeholders were. Youth, parents, school personnel, health and social service providers, law enforcement, the religious community and others in the community, plus graduate students and the academic community were all important players or influences in this process.

There are types of developmental assets: External assets are the expectations and opportunities that families, individuals, organizations and institutions provide with and for young people. And internal assets are personal qualities, skills and values that youth need to internalize or make their own in order to become independent, competent, purposeful and caring adults. There will be some differences in overall levels of assets when comparing youth from different family backgrounds.

The outcomes include a very comprehensive picture of not only the behaviors and attitudes of the students surveyed, but also the assets, risk, and protective factors they face at several ecological levels. This information informs the community and positions various agencies to respond. In the case of SLHS, the School District has been supportive of programs to address youth issues. The goals of SLHS Assets building program are to improve the total number of assets among all 9th grader by using Federal Safe/Drug-Free Grant funds. Normally, funding would not be considered an outcome, but a means to achieve impacts (Roehlkepartain, 1998). However, in this example, community action to address youth issues was the goal. Therefore, sustained attention, time, commitment, and financial resources to ultimately achieve the desired long-term outcome of positive social, economic, educational, and health outcomes for youth in the community are important.

This community is now at the point where it could do a second logic model where the data and funding that are outcomes of this process would become inputs for the next step in community action on youth issues. Identify and build upon existing strengths which contribute to youth developing into healthy, capable youth, allowing them to focus on learning learn strategies for building developmental assets/strengthening protective factors while reducing the risk factors contributing to the problem behavior in youth.

Data Analysis

I planed to use multiple regressions, but the data are never good enough to use it for SLHS Asset building model. A valid regression analysis would have to capture all of these things, and test them under a wide range of variation. The existing data do not permit that, so the results of a regression analysis will vary depending on which data are selected for analysis. I chose the Pearson correlations to know if there is significant different between male and female based on Minnesota student survey .  The Pearson correlations were used to test the relationships between perceived congregational effectiveness and outcomes using the scales described above. The following strong to moderate correlations resulted, all of which are statistically significant (p > .001) and consistent with the hypothesized model. The correlations were fairly consistent across gender, age, and congregational activity level.

Table 1


Cigarette smoking in 30 days of MN students survey 1998-2001
  Male Female Total
1998 .19 .26 0.45
2001 .11 .10 0.21
2001 S .N. D .16 .12 0.28
2001 MN .19 .20 0.39
Total 0.65 0.68 1.33

Degrees of freedom: 3
Chi-square = 0.0166675639091929
For significance at the .05 level, chi-square should be greater than or equal to 7.82.
The distribution is not significant.  p is less than or equal to 1.

Cigarette smoking among boys and girls is not significant in 30 days according to MN students’ survey 1998-2001. The significance at the .05 level, chi-square should be greater than or equal to 0.0782, but our Chi-square = 0.0167. In these circumstances we reject the null hypothesis and we accept the research hypothesis. There is statistically significant

Table 2

Alchol use in last 30 days of MN students survey 1998-2001
  Male Female Total
1998 .32 .24 0.56
2001 .19 .21 0.4
2001 S .N. D .24 .20 0.44
2001 MN .30 .30 0.6
Total 1.05 0.95 2

Degrees of freedom: 3
Chi-square = 0.0110926667317645
For significance at the .05 level, chi-square should be greater than or equal to 7.82.
The distribution is not significant.
p is less than or equal to 1.

Table 3

Marijuana us in last 30 days of MN students survey 1998-2001
  Male Female Total
1998 .21 .17 0.38
2001 .11 .12 0.23
2001 S .N. D .16 .10 0.26
2001 MN .16 .13 0.29
Total 0.64 0.52 1.16

Degrees of freedom: 3
Chi-square = 0.00928043292080213
For significance at the .05 level, chi-square should be greater than or equal to 7.82.
The distribution is not significant.
p is less than or equal to 1.

Table   4

Binge drinking in 30 days of MN students survey 1998-2001
  Male Female Total
1998 .17 .12 0.29
2001 .9 .11 1.01
2001 S .N. D .16 .10 0.26
2001 MN .17 .15 0.32
Total 1.4 0.48 1.88


Degrees of freedom: 3
Chi-square = 0.251700914879405
For significance at the .05 level, chi-square should be greater than or equal to 7.82.
The distribution is not significant.  p is less than or equal to 1.

The chi square value, to tell us whether or not it is significant, we use the Chi square is a non-parametric test of statistical significance for bivariate tabular analysis. Based on the table above 1 –   4, we know chi square value of the null hypothesis, so there is a significance of differences between male/female students’ correlation coefficients in the above samples.

We can reject the null hypothesis and claim that a statistically significant relationship exists between our variables. But a statistically significant chi square value does denote the degree of confidence you may hold that relationship between variables described in your results is systematic in the larger population and not attributable to random error. Statistical significance also does not ensure substantive significance. A large enough sample may demonstrate a statistically significant relationship between two variables,


The survey was developed in response to a series of conversations and interviews in which leaders in the faith community expressed the need for a simple survey tool that congregation could use to assess how they are doing from an asset-building perspective (Fraenkel & Wallen, 2006). Survey measures how many of the 40 developmental assets the community’s youth believe they have. Assets are the essential qualities, experiences and skills that support successful growth and development in youth (Roehlkepartain, 1998).


The 40 Developmental Assets are concrete, common sense, positive experiences and qualities essential to raising successful young people.  Each asset helps promote healthy development of young people.  The developmental assets are characteristics and behaviors that reflect positive internal qualities, including values and identities, social competencies, and orientation to learning (Roehlkepartain, 1998). The 40 developmental assets allow young people to make thoughtful choices and be better prepared for situations that challenge inner strength

Test-Retest Reliability

If the same person completes the survey two times with some time in between, do they generally respond to items the same way each time. If the same people respond to the same items in the same way on different occasions, the instrument is considered a stable and accurate measure. Correlations of 0.70 or higher between the first and second survey administration are considered to have a high reliability (Black, 1999). The test retest reliability for this survey instrument showed high reliability on the entire primary scales in the survey.


Regardless of its validity, many researchers share a common belief that today’s youth face drugs, sex, and violence. Many schools are struggling for the possibility of positive outcomes for youth. SLHS Assets Buildings focuses on how scholars and practitioners can begin to build positive behaviors and attitudes that result in positive outcomes for youth. The Assets buildings involve the internal strengths, commitments, and values young people need to guide their choices, priorities, and decisions. Young people need to be valued by their community and have opportunities to contribute to society.

Predictive Validity

The data survey actually measures what it purports to measure. The survey development process did not provide the opportunity to link the survey findings to independent, objective measures. However, a correlation within the survey between perceptions of congregational effectiveness and perceived impact offers preliminary evidence of the survey’s validity.

Content Validity

The survey has high face validity for both expert reviewers and for people in the congregation who completed the survey; that is, people who have reviewed and completed the survey indicate that is measures important dimensions of congregational life.  It is noted that enhancing community has the potential for producing negative as well as positive outcomes, and that the content of the community values is of critical importance.

Construct validity

Building Assets, strengthening faith survey has high internal consistency, high test-retest reliability, construct validity, and normal distributions.

Ethical Issues

This program is built on the Search Institute research of building assets in youth.  The students in the school would undergo an assessment to determine their number of assets.  A program would then be designed to help build assets which in turn would reduce at-risk behavior.


The developmental assets as originally defined, including family, communication, Peer role models, future aspirations, responsible choices, community involvement, and non-parental role Models. The Assets were split into four specific assets (decrease alcohol, tobacco and other drug use, reduce academic failure, improve attendance and decrease number of discipline referrals). The four assets were defined as one-item assets. All factor loading scores were .40 or higher and all alphas were .60 or higher.

It is important to note that the SLHS held their own as measured by this 40 asset developmental assets as baseline. Based on my hypothesis statistically representative samples of 300 9th graders were surveyed. There is validity and reliability within the two instruments so we can gather valuable data from them. It is recommended, however, that the recent set of data be treated as a new baseline to inform our renewed efforts to build assets in Hampton youth.


The SLHS logic model provides a way to understand the connections between and among the various components. It was useful for the agent and specialist to work together to develop the SLHS Assets Building as the project was implemented because it makes the linkages, roles, assumptions, situation, environment, required inputs, outputs, and expected outcomes explicit. Although this model focuses on a community partnership, it is applicable to any content area or project involving program development, implementation, and/or evaluation. Using the SLHS Assets Building model is not a one-time or static process. The model can be used to take projects to the next level as indicated by the example that shows funding as an outcome and then as an input.

I found that use of the SLHS Assets Building model facilitated good communication and allowed for an easier working relationship. It was also helpful in working through obstacles. The assumptions and talk about how we assumed that this project would be helpful to students, faculty members and parents in fulfilling the youth outreach responsibilities. Implications from this study can have an impact on planning interventions for decreasing alcohol, tobacco and other drug use, reduce academic failure, and improve attendance and decrease number of discipline referrals for youth.


I found that very little research has been done that impact the lives of children and youth. It takes extraordinary effort to move a social indicator, but we know that the asset approach works. SLHS will make many initial gains, especially in light of increased risk in our world, our challenges as a mature city and decreased funding for youth services. The asset report speaks to us that our youth need us now more than ever. Asset is a building is a long-term commitment. Adults can actually be working hard to build assets, and yet these efforts may not register with young people. We must increase young people’s awareness of the assets and the community’s response to build those assets. In addition, a stronger role for youth in the overall direction and specific strategies within our initiative is needed in order to ensure their relevance to our youth.










Black, T. R. (1999).  Doing quantitative research in the social sciences.  London: Sage.

Fraenkel, J. R. & Wallen, N. E. (2006).  How to design and evaluate research in education (6th ed.).  New York:  McGraw-Hill.

Gottfredson, G. & Gottfredson, D. (1985). Victimization in schools. New York: Plenum

Hansen, W. B., & Graham, J. W. (1991). Preventing alcohol, marijuana, and cigarette use

among adolescents: Peer pressure resistance training versus establishing

conservative social norms. Preventive Medicine, (20) 414-430.

Roehlkepartain, E. C. (1998). Building assets in congregations: A practical guide for

helping youth grow up healthy. Minneapolis: Search Institute.

Zimmerman, R. (1997). Social marketing strategies for campus prevention of alcohol and

other drug problems. The Higher Education Center for Alcohol an Other Drug

Prevention, Newton, Massachusetts:





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