2020 Conference
April 27–29, 2020
The Westin Westminster
Denver, CO

Monday Pre-Conference Sessions

April 27

The "Evidence" in Evidence-Based Programs: Utilizing Blueprints Standards for Judging an Intervention's Effectiveness and Utility

Pamela Buckley, PhD, Director and Co-Principal Investigator (Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development)

Christine Steeger, PhD, Research Associate, University of Colorado Boulder, Blueprints Senior Reviewer

  • Provide an operational definition of “evidence-based programs”
  • Discuss the benefits of high scientific standards
  • Describe how to build toward more rigorous methods
  • Describe the Blueprints review process
  • Explain Blueprints standards
  • Introduce the “Evidence-Based Classification System,” which provides an evidence rating for non-certified programs
  • Describe the most common problems that prevent Blueprints certification
  • Demonstrate how to navigate the newly updated Blueprints website
Evaluating whether an intervention “works” is crucially important, but not entirely straightforward. This presentation seeks to inform policymakers, practitioners, researchers and evaluators about the standards for identifying evidence-based programs used by Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development, a web-based registry of programs for children, youth and families that have demonstrated strong evidence of effectiveness. Unlike other registries, Blueprints has established “unmatched standards for identifying evidence-based programs and has acted in a way similar to the FDA – evaluating evidence, data and research to determine which programs meet their high standard of proven efficacy” (Mihalic & Elliott, 2015, p. 124). Specific topics to be covered include: 1) the advantages of using evidence-based programs; 2) the importance of adopting a high standard of evidence for program scalability and dissemination; 3) the Blueprints program review process; 4) the four Blueprints criteria for program certification (i.e., evaluation quality, intervention impact, intervention specificity, and dissemination readiness); and 5) a preview of updates to the Blueprints website. Supported through funding from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, these updates include an extension of the Blueprints classification system that provides an evidence rating for programs that fail to meet Blueprints certification standards. Blueprints has reviewed the evidence for over 1500 programs, yet only 89 of these programs have qualified (to date) for Blueprints certification. In providing descriptive information on common problems that disqualify programs from Blueprints certification, we hope to offer concrete ways moving forward that will improve the methods and analyses employed in future program evaluation efforts.

Mihalic, S. F., & Elliott, D. S. (2015). Evidence-based programs registry: Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development. Evaluation and Program Planning, 48, 124–131.