This chapter has two parts. The first subject deals with evaluating the federal abstinence
education guidelines. In this each of the eight guidelines is examined to highlight its uniqueness,
vis-a-vis the other seven guidelines, and to discover specific items that should be addressed in a
program receiving funding for abstinence education. Secondly, using the evaluation criteria
developed in the first part of this chapter, one abstinence education curriculum, Choosing the
Best abstinence education program, is analyzed and evaluated.
Part I: Program Evaluation
There are two basic dimensions to an evaluation. To evaluate (a) “is the act of comparing
what should be… with what is” and (b) “involves the identification, clarification, and application
of defensible criteria to determine an evaluation object’s value” (Doughlah, 1998, p. 1). In this
study the what should be aspects are the Federal Guidelines, while abstinence education
curriculum is itself the what is aspect. In question form, “How well do curricula that purport to
teach abstinence align themselves with the guidelines for abstinence education as outlined by the
To analyze this correlation between the written text of an abstinence education program
and the federal abstinence education standards, defensible criteria had to be identified and
elucidated. But before creating these criteria, broad basic parameters had to be outlined.
Evaluation criteria had to be:
• Inclusive of all 8 Federal Guidelines
• Uniquely and definitively separate from all other criteria, and
• Be supported by current research in the field
While it was clear that abstinence education programs “do not need to place equal
emphasis on every component of the definition,” they may “not violate any aspect of the
definition” either (Haskins & Bevan, 1997, p. 8). So, although equal emphasis was not required it
would be tracked in order to “create greater understanding” (Taylor-Powell et ah, 1996, p. 3),
specifically, for a later discussion with regards to the strengths and weaknesses of a particular
Creating Evaluation Criteria
As was suggested by the researcher’s dissertation chairperson, Dr. Patrica Ripoll, and characteristic of the inductive nature of qualitative research, several attempts will be made
before reaching the final evaluation criteria model for the study. For the purpose of education and background, each step will be briefly explained, followed by a summary of its shortcomings in the Findings and Analysis Chapter 4.
In forming evaluation criteria, the first step will be to separate each of the Federal guidelines into the simplest most measure components. The emphasis here was on creating each evaluation criterion unique from every other criterion. This yielded over twenty variables.
This concept was abandoned because of the unmanageable number of variables, making
it nearly impossible to track due to the lack of synchronization to the original Federal Guidelines.
The Federal Guidelines have two expected standards, (B) and (D). The first standard “for
all school-age children” is “abstinence from sexual activity.” The second is the “expected
standard of human sexual activity,” that it is to be within the “mutually faithful monogamous
relationship in context of marriage.” Recognizing the unique, normative nature of these two
standards, the second attempt was made to re-categorize the twenty-plus variables using two
broad themes, abstinence and marriage. Elements from each of the other six Federal Guidelines
were aligned with the two standards.
Although the number of variables was reduced by 20 percent, this was still too many.
Again, the numbering system was cumbersome and disjointed. Even more serious, this
artificially divided the guidelines in a way that may not have reflected the original intention of
the U.S. Congress. Needless to say, this approach was likewise discarded.
In seeking to 1) limit the number of variables, and 2) allow for an in-depth study of the
normative nature of sexual abstinence and its relationship to marital fidelity, this proposal sought
exclusive focus on the two expected standards. The rationale was that although equal emphasis
was not necessary, paragraphs (B) and (D) of the Federal Guidelines nonetheless had to be
addressed. The idea was to allow an in-depth analysis of these two expected standards and, in so
doing, focus on the core interrelated concepts of abstinence and marriage hoping to support the
formation of new norms for sexual behavior in the larger society.
Explanation of Evaluation Criteria
Each evaluation criterion will be discussed in three parts: 1) its distinctive qualities
vis-a-vis the other criteria, 2) using current research its underlying principles and importance will
be explained, and 3) summary bullet points will highlight specific attributes that should be part
of any abstinence education textbook. The evaluation criteria and the summary bullet points will
then be used to examine A. C. Green’s Game Plan Abstinence Program to determine its degree of alignment to the federal standards for abstinence education.
In qualitative research purposeful sampling, rather than probability sampling, is the
primary strategy used for selection of a population (Hoepfl, p. 4) since the focus is on “the
specific rather than the general” (Taylor-Powell, 1998, p. 6).
However, “there are no rules” (Taylor-Powell, 1998, p. 6) for determining an adequate
sample size. Generally, however, if the purpose is to demonstrate diversity or variation, a larger
population may be required. But, often, in purposeful sampling the sample size is very small—possibly even just one case study (n=l). … It depends upon what you want to know, what will be useful, what will be credible, and what can be accomplished within the time and resources you have available. (Taylor-Powell, 1998, p. 6)
The sample size for this study was n = l; the abstinence education curriculum selected was A.C. Green’s Game Plan Abstinence Program. The justification for limiting the sample size will be further clarified in the next section where the rationale for selecting a blend of purposeful
sampling strategies is discussed.
Purposeful Sampling Strategies
Michael Patton in his work Qualitative Evaluation and Research Methods identifies 16
types of purposeful sampling strategies. The last one is called “combination or mixed purposeful
sampling” (Patton, 1990, pp. 182-183) and is used when a “combination of [the other 15] approaches meets multiple interests and needs” (Taylor-Powell, 1998, p. 7). In this study, four
sampling strategies were incorporated.
Intensity sampling. This method was selected because it provided an “information-rich”
case that exhibited a concentration of the phenomena studied. The reasons Game Plan provides
this information-rich source are:
Since 1985 Project Reality, the primary publisher of Game Plan, “has been a pioneer
in the national field of abstinence health education… in public schools” (“About
Project Reality,”). They have been funded for more than a decade by a grant from the
State of Illinois, Department of Human Service.
In 1995 the A.C. Green Youth Foundation, co-publisher of Game Plan, created its
own abstinence education program titled I ’ve Got the Power: Abstinence Curriculum.
The goal of the foundation is to provide “an abstinence program that says it’s okay to
wait until marriage” (Green).
Project Reality teamed up with the A.C. Green Youth Foundation to create Game
Plan. Thus two abstinence education organizations pooled their combined experience
in tbe field of abstinence education, totaling more than a quarter of a century.
Game Plan was one of the first private-sector joint collaborations in abstinence
education curriculum development. The diversity in leadership of these two
organizations is striking: the A.C. Green Youth Foundation is headed by a
middle-aged Afiican-American male; Project Reality by an elderly Caucasian female.
It appears that in abstinence education the differences of race, gender, and age can be
Critical case sampling. Under this strategy the sample selected “permits logical
generalization and maximum application of information to other cases” (Taylor-Powell, 1998, p.
7). These conditions apply to Game Plan because:
been modified to fit abstinence education guidelines; it is an abstinence education
program from first conception.
In the 2001-2002 school year, within the state of Illinois alone, Game Plan was taught
to 71,339 students in 470 schools (“About Project Reality,”). And nationally. Game
Plan was Education Reporter’s Book of the Month in May 2001. It is fast becoming
one of the most popular programs in the country.