Evaluation of REAL Essentials

The REAL Essentials Curriculum is an innovative approach to imparting relationship development skills. The curriculum has also been evaluated. It builds on existing evidence in the field of whole child health, optimal wellness and pregnancy prevention by:

  1. Aligning the program with the National Health Education Standards.
  2. Including the common themes that are in many state’s health education standards.
  3. Including the 17 characteristics of effective programs.
  4. Aligning with the common themes in the literature that builds protective factors in youth outlined in the CDC / CRE SMARTool which is a curriculum analysis tool.
  5. Keeping sex positive and teaching toward something of greater reward and satisfaction rather than teaching away from consequences. Adolescent brain research indicates that teens respond better to reward rather than to consequences.
  6. Aligning with many state regulatory and legislative policies for sexual health.
  7. Aligning with the criteria for age-appropriate messaging and cognitive development.
  8. Basing concepts in program on sound theoretical frameworks for child pedagogy and educational best practices.

REAL Essentials has been evaluated by an independent educational evaluator whose preliminary findings were:

  • Pre-post data demonstrates statistical significant positive movement on a 7 point Lickert Scale from pre to post-tests within 26 items which represent the following categories: Peer Self-Esteem, Communication, Conflict Resolution, Impulse Control, Attitudes about Relationships, Cohabitation, Marriage, Non-marital Childbearing, Poverty Prevention, Self-efficacy, Social Skills, Success Sequencing, Relationship Pacing, Consent, Kindness, Inclusivity, Primary Prevention, Risk Reduction, Knowledge, Behavioral Intentions and Present and Recent Behavior.
  • Based on pre-post preliminary results, the initial assessment is that REAL Essentials demonstrates immediate impact among participating youth as demonstrated by percentage increases and statistically significant favorable shifts ranging from 4.2% to 22.8% to increase knowledge, changed attitudes and intent away from early sexual debut. Present results are encouraging and reflect the goals of the program. REAL Essentials meets its objective to educate and support adolescent decisions to postpone sexual activity and develop healthy relationships.
  • Causal data cannot be determined; however, Colorado is number one state in the country regarding high school seniors reporting on a survey (modeled after the CDC YRBS surveillance system) that was administered to a representative sample of Colorado youth reporting they are not involved in sexual activity. When monitoring these survey results the numbers rose higher with each year commensurate with teachers and community leaders being trained and certified to teach the REAL Essentials curricula throughout the state. Currently the percentage of high school students in Colorado who reported not being sexually active is 76.7%. This is remarkable given the libertine messages adolescents receive from health departments who dispense long acting reversible contraceptives (LARC) at no cost to teens as well as laws legalizing marijuana use. This information can be found on page 10 of the 2016 Colorado Health Report Card.
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