From Policy to Implementation: An Evaluation of Comprehensive Sex Education in Chicago Public Schools
Jarpe-Ratner, Elizabeth Ann
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To promote adolescent sexual health and wellbeing, school districts across the country have passed policies mandating sexual health education. Chicago Public Schools’ (CPS) 2013 policy and accompanying curriculum, embedded in a comprehensive school-based prevention program, are among the most comprehensive in the nation. Program fidelity and student engagement are critical to monitor during implementation of prevention programs, including sexual health education (Dane & Schneider, 1998; Berkel et al., 2011). Yet, few studies have examined implementation of sexual health education programs after comprehensive policies have been passed. This case study of CPS’s policy and curriculum implementation, with a focus on 9th grade, examines fidelity practices among teachers and engagement from the youth perspective. Twenty-nine ninth grade sex education class-periods were observed in 4 schools; curriculum fidelity and student engagement were assessed. Additionally, 12 teachers were interviewed about their implementation practices and 5 student focus groups were conducted to assess student-reported engagement. Teachers’ reported experiences and practices as well as observations reveal that many teachers make adaptations and report doing so primarily to increase student engagement. Observations and students’ own reports of engagement indicate a preference for interactive activities. Students want a more LGBTQ+-inclusive curriculum defined by 1) including identity topics integrated throughout the curriculum; 2) more holistic discussion of sexuality; 3) information about identity development, and 4) creation of a safe space through an accepting, nonjudgmental tone from teachers. Implications for the sexual health education field as well as for the larger public health field are discussed.
SubjectSexual health education Collaborative inquiry Critical pedagogy Implementation science Mixed methods