DuPont Comment on New York Times article - 6-5-03
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DuPont Comment on New York Times article - 6-5-03

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June 5, 2003COMMENTARY“Study Finds No Sign That Testing Deters Students’ Drug Use” New York Times 1Page One, May 17, 2003 &The study featured in the article: “Relationship between student illicit drug use and school drug-testing policies” By Yamaguchi, Royoko, Johnston, Lloyd D and O’Malley, Patrick M. Published American School Health Association Journal of School Health.2April 1, 2003 The research on student drug testing reported in “Study Finds No Sign That Testing Deters Students’Drug Use,” on page one, May 17, 2003, made an important point, a point that is completelyoverlooked in the New York Times article. The authors compared the drug-using rates of students inth th ththe 8 , 10 and 12 grades of a sample of 722 of the nation’s middle schools and high schools duringthe years from 1998 to 2001. These schools were dichotomized based on each school principal’sanswer to this question: “In the school year, did your school test any students for illicit drug use?”About 18% of the schools said “yes” and 82% said “no.” Those schools which said “yes” were furthersubdivided into schools that conducted either random testing or “suspicion-based” testing. Pr incipalswere asked which groups of students at their schools were tested: students participat ing on an athleticteam, students in other extracurricular activities, selected students based on suspicion or cause,students on school probation, students who volunteered to be tested, all students, and ...

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J
u
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C
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“Study Finds No Sign That Testing Deters Students’ Drug Use”
New York Times
Page One, May 17, 2003
1
&
The study featured in the article: “Relationship between student illicit drug use and school drug-
testing policies” By Yamaguchi, Royoko, Johnston, Lloyd D and O’Malley, Patrick M. Published
American School Health Association Journal of School Health.
April 1, 2003
2
The research on student drug testing reported in “Study Finds No Sign That Testing Deters Students’
Drug Use,” on page one, May 17, 2003, made an important point, a point that
i
s
c
o
m
p
l
e
t
e
ly
overlooked in the
New York Times
article. The authors compared the drug-using rates of students in
the 8
th
, 10
th
and 12
th
grades of a sample of 722 of the nation’s middle schools and high schools during
the
y
e
a
r
s
f
r
o
m
1
9
9
8
t
o
2
0
0
1
.
T
h
e
s
e
s
c
h
o
o
l
s
w
e
r
e
d
i
c
h
o
tomized based on each school principal’s
answer to this question: “In the school year, did your school test any students for illicit drug use?”
About 18% of the schools said “yes” and 82% said “no.” Those schools which said “yes” were further
subdivided into schools that conducted either random testing or “suspicion-based” testing.
Principals
were
a
s
k
e
d
w
h
i
c
h
g
r
o
u
p
s
o
f
s
t
u
d
e
n
t
s at their schools were tested: students participating on an athletic
team, students in other extracurricular activities, selected student
s
b
a
s
e
d on suspicion or cause,
s
t
u
d
e
n
t
s on school probation, students who volunteered to be tested, all students, and “other.”
Principals checked as many of those categories as applied to the drug tests conducted each year at
their schools. Then the principals were asked to describe the
r
e
a
s
o
n
s
f
o
r
d
r
u
g
t
e
s
t
i
n
g
a
t
t
h
e
i
r
s
c
h
o
o
l
Page 2
with
t
h
e
s
e
o
p
t
i
o
n
s
:
b
a
s
e
d
o
n
s
u
s
p
i
c
i
o
n
o
r
c
a
u
s
e
,
r
o
u
t
i
n
e
d
r
u
g
t
e
s
t
i
n
g
,
s
t
u
d
e
n
t
s
o
r
t
h
e
i
r
p
a
r
e
n
t
s
volunteered, mandated testing, and “other.”
D
a
t
a was obtained about the size of the school, the grades covered in the
s
c
h
o
o
l
,
t
h
e
p
o
p
u
l
a
t
i
o
n
d
e
n
s
i
t
y of the area served by the school, the social cla
s
s
o
f
t
h
e
s
t
u
d
ents and a variety of other
measures of the school population.
Then the drug use rates were compared in 18% of the schools reporting that they tested “any
s
t
u
d
e
n
t
s
f
o
r illicit drug use” with 82% of the schools that said they did not.
The result was that there was no
consistent difference between the schools that did test and those that did not.
Not only
i
s
i
t
n
o
t
surprising that no difference in drug use rates was found between these two heterogeneous groups,
but it is almost inconceivable that there would be any difference based on this question since there
is no assessment of how many drug tests were done at each school or whether
t
h
e
r
e
w
a
s
a
n
y
s
o
r
t
o
f
student drug testing program underway at each school or not.
A school that did a single drug test
in a year would be in
c
l
u
d
e
d in the “yes” along with a school that had a comprehensive drug
prevention program that included carefully-structured student drug testing.
If the study had ended at that point then there would be no complaint and no story for the
New York
Times
.
H
o
w
e
v
e
r
,
t
h
a
t
w
a
s
n
o
t the end of this sad example of the reckless misuse of survey data.
The
study contained this obligatory disclaimer, “This study explored the association between student drug
use and drug-testing policies in schools. While lack of evidence for the effectiveness of drug testing
is not definitive, results suggest that drug testing in schools may not provide a panacea for reducing
student drug use as some (including some on the Supreme Court) had
h
o
p
e
d
.
T
h
i
s
i
s
t
h
e
p
o
i
n
t
o
f
this study: When all the schools that did any drug testing at all were compared to the schools that did
n
o
t
,
t
h
e
r
e
w
a
s
n
o
c
o
n
s
i
s
t
e
n
t
d
i
f
f
e
r
e
n
c
e
i
n
r
a
t
e
s
o
f student drug use found between the two
g
r
o
u
p
s
o
f
schools.
No one that I know has ever claimed that student drug testing is “a panacea for reducing student drug
use” or even that student drug testing alone made a se
n
s
i
b
l
e
,
let alone an ideal, drug
p
r
e
v
e
n
t
i
o
n program for any school. The policy question facing schools today is whether
Page 3
adding well-structured, non-punitive student drug testing deters illegal drug use and helps parents and
studen
t
s fin
d
a
n
d
u
s
e
e
f
f
e
c
t
i
v
e
h
e
l
p
e
a
r
l
i
e
r
i
n
t
h
e
c
y
c
l
e
o
f
d
r
u
g
d
e
p
e
n
d
e
n
c
e
.
T
h
i
s
s
t
u
d
y
f
a
i
l
e
d
t
o
address this important question.
The
New York Times
headline m
a
d
e clear just how far from this terribly limited data the quoted
experts, including one of the authors of the study, have strayed. This study is the equivalent of taking
a
s
a
m
p
l
e
o
f
a
l
l
o
f
t
h
e
p
a
t
i
e
n
t
s
i
n
t
h
e
c
o
u
n
t
r
y
o
v
e
r
a
y
e
a
r
,
w
h
o
t
o
o
k
o
n
e
d
o
s
e
o
f
a
blood pressure
medicine compared to patients who took no medicine and, finding no di
f
f
e
r
e
n
c
e
i
n
t
h
e
b
l
o
o
d
pressures in the two groups, concluding that antihypertensive treatments do not work. To compound
the problem of the study’s inadequate design, the article quotes e
x
p
e
r
ts who concluded from this
study
t
h
a
t
d
r
u
g
e
d
u
c
a
t
i
o
n
(
n
o
t
s
t
u
d
e
n
t
d
r
u
g
t
e
s
t
i
n
g
)
i
s
t
h
e
m
o
s
t
e
f
f
e
c
t
i
v
e
w
e
a
p
o
n against substance
abuse.”
D
o
t
h
e
r
e
s
e
a
r
c
h
e
r
s
a
t
t
h
e
U
n
i
v
e
r
s
i
t
y
o
f Michigan think that if they compared a sample of
all
o
f
t
h
e
schools in the country reporting that they are doing any sort of drug education w
i
t
h
a
l
l
t
h
e
schools reporting that they are not, that such a study would be a reasonable test of drug education?
What is needed is a controlled study comparing student drug use
r
a
t
e
s in schools using several
d
i
f
f
e
r
e
n
t
, adequately implemented, student drug testing a
p
p
r
oaches with schools that do not do
student drug testing while both groups of schools use standard drug education approaches. A well-
designed study would not only show whether drug testing works to reduce student drug use, but it
would show which of the several different
a
p
p
r
o
a
c
h
e
s
t
o
s
t
u
d
e
n
t
d
r
u
g
t
e
s
t
i
n
g
i
s
t
h
e
m
o
s
t
c
o
s
t
-
effective.
S
u
c
h
s
t
u
d
i
e
s
a
r
e
n
o
t difficult to do, but they require careful characterization of the specific
student drug testing programs followed by linking those specific programs to the rates of drug use
in those schools before and after the student drug testing programs.
The best study design that could establish whether a student drug testing produced a deterrent effect
would be a randomized experimental design or an examination of longitudinal results from a “natural
e
x
p
e
r
i
m
e
n
t
” (such as studying the same school over time, before and after student drug testing). This
study did neither.
Instead, it was a simple “cross–sectional” design that merely compared schools
to each other in two meaningless categories – those whose principals said “yes” and those
whose said “no” to that single, simplistic question.
Page 4
Three recent examples of studies which have captured the effectiveness
o
f student drug testing are
the New Jersey
s
t
u
d
y
3
,
the Indiana study
4
, and the Oregon study
5
.
These three studies examined
specific school drug testing programs and their effects on the drug use rates in those schools b
o
t
h
before and after the implementation of the SD
T
p
r
o
gram.
All showed that student drug testing
reduced student drug use, as did the pilot study done by the Institute for Behavior and Health (IBH)
f
o
r
t
h
e
U
.
S
.
D
e
p
a
r
t
m
e
n
t
o
f
E
d
u
c
a
t
i
o
n
6
.
In addition to the reduction in student drug use, IBH’s pilot study revealed yet another striking and
important finding:
“All of the SDT programs were based upon a health and safety rationale, with the
purpose of prevention rather than punishment.
In every school surveyed the SDT
program was just one part of a larger, comprehensive
i
n
i
t
i
a
t
i
v
e
t
o
k
e
e
p
s
t
u
d
e
n
t
s
s
a
f
e
from drugs.”
Having this as an underlying principle for
all
S
D
T
p
r
o
g
r
a
m
s
c
a
n
p
r
o
v
i
d
e
f
o
r
a
g
o
o
d
f
o
u
n
d
a
t
i
o
n
o
n
which schools can build and implement an effective and comprehensive SDT program.
The study described in the
New York Times
a
r
t
i
c
l
e
w
a
s
n
o
t able to produce a clear and decisive
f
i
n
d
i
n
g
o
n
t
h
e
e
f
f
e
c
t
i
v
e
n
e
s
s
o
f student drug testing.
A relevant national study
i
s
w
h
a
t
i
s
n
e
e
d
e
d
t
o
have an impact on the policy decision facing schools across the country.
The US Supreme Court has
found in two landmark cases that mandatory, random drug testing in public school passes
Constitutional muster. There never was a Constitutional question about private schools conducting
drug
t
e
sts or about “for-cause” drug testing in public schools. The only legal issue before the
Supreme Court has been whether public schools could require large groups of students to take
r
a
n
d
o
m drug
t
e
s
t
s
w
i
t
h
o
u
t
i
n
d
i
v
i
d
u
a
l
i
z
e
d
s
u
s
p
i
c
i
o
n that the students to be tested were drug abusers.
So far the answer to that question has been “yes,” if the tests are well-structured, health-orientated
and reasonably administered.
Posing the policy question for schools today as if the schools faced a choice
o
f
e
i
t
h
e
r
d
r
u
g
e
d
u
c
a
t
i
o
n
o
r student drug tes
t
i
n
g
, as the study and the
New York Times
article does, poses a false
choice.
No one has claimed that student drug testing alone is the magic bullet to reduce the
Page 5
lamentably high levels of teenage drug use in the United States or that drug
e
d
u
c
a
t
i
o
n
i
s
n
o
t effective.
The question is this, “Does a well-designed student drug testing program enhance other school and
community efforts to reduce teenage drug use?”
Drug testing has been successfully used for decades in drug treatment, the criminal justice system and
in the workplace. Testing linked to consequences clearly does deter drug use in every setting where
it has been studied. Hundreds of schools in the US have begun pioneering efforts to add student drug
t
e
s
t
i
n
g
t
o their comprehensive efforts to reduce teenage drug use. The study reported in this article
does
a
d
i
s
s
e
r
v
i
c
e
t
o this important effort, an effort which holds the promise of dramatically reducing
the recruitment of new users of illegal drugs in this country, most
o
f
w
h
o
m are teenagers in schools.
W
h
a
t
i
s
n
e
e
d
e
d
t
o
d
a
y
i
s
a
t
h
o
r
o
u
g
h
a
n
d
f
a
i
r
t
e
s
t
o
f a wide variety of student drug testing programs
t
o help
s
c
h
o
o
l
s
f
i
n
d
t
h
e
m
o
s
t
c
o
s
t
e
f
f
e
c
t
i
v
e
w
a
y
s
t
o
p
r
e
v
e
n
t
t
h
e
t
r
a
g
i
c
a
l
l
y
h
i
g
h
r
a
t
e
o
f
s
t
u
d
e
n
t
u
s
e
o
f
illegal drugs. The study in the
American School Health Association Journal of School Health
and
the article in the
New York Times
will not further this important work because they purport to answer
t
h
e
p
o
l
i
c
y
q
u
e
s
t
i
o
n
w
i
t
h
d
a
t
a that is completely inadequate to support the policy positions taken by
the experts quoted in the article and by the means in which the article itself is written.
Robert L. DuPont, M.D.
President of the Institute for Behavior and Health and
First Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse
Page 6
1
Study Finds No Sign That Testing Deters Students’ Drug Use. (2003, May 17).
The New York Times
, p. A1.
2
Yamaguchi R., Johnston L.D. & O’Malley P.M. (2003).
Relationship between student illicit drug use and school
drug-testing policies.
American School Health Association Journal of School Health
. No.4, 73:159-179.
3
The
American Drug and Alcohol Survey
is available from RMBSI, Inc., 419 Canyon, Suite 316, Fort Collins, CO
80521, telephone 800-447-6354: the
Hunterdon Central Study
is available from David G. Evans, Esq. at the Drug-
Free Schools Coalition at 203 Main St., PMB 327, Flemington, NJ 08822, telephone 908-284-5080, fax 908-284-
5081.
4
The Effectiveness of Legality of Random Drug Testing Policies
.
J
o
s
e
p
h
R
.
M
c
K
i
n
n
e
y
,
J
.
D
.
,
E
d
.
D
.
,
C
h
a
i
r
a
n
d
P
r
o
f
e
s
s
o
r
,
D
e
p
a
r
t
m
e
n
t
o
f
E
d
u
c
a
t
i
o
n
a
l
L
e
a
d
e
r
s
h
i
p
,
B
a
l
l
S
t
a
t
e
U
n
i
v
e
r
s
i
t
y
a
d
j
u
n
c
t
P
r
o
f
e
s
s
o
r
o
f
L
a
w
,
I
n
d
i
a
n
a
University-Bloomington School of Law.
Available at:
http://www.studentdrugtesting.org/Effectiveness.htm
5
Linn Goldberg, M.D. et al. (2003).
Drug Testing Athletes to Prevent Substance Abuse:
Background and Pilot
S
t
u
d
y
R
e
s
u
l
t
s
o
f
t
h
e
S
A
T
U
R
N
(
S
t
u
d
e
n
t
A
t
h
l
e
t
e
T
e
s
t
i
n
g
U
s
i
n
g
R
a
n
d
o
m
N
o
t
i
f
i
c
a
t
i
o
n
)
S
t
u
d
y
.
O
r
e
g
o
n
H
e
a
l
t
h
a
n
d
Science University, Portland, Oregon.
Journal of Adolescent Health
.
32:16-25.
6
Report of a Preliminary Study:
Elements of a Successful School-Based Student Drug Testing Program
.
R
o
b
e
r
t
Dupont, M.D., Teresa G. Campbell, Ph.D., and Jacqueline Mazza.
Institute for Behavior and Health, Inc.
6191
Executive Blvd., Rockville, Maryland. Telephone 301-231-9010.
U.S. Department of Education Order No. ED-01-PO-3886.
(Released July 22, 2003)
Available at:
http://www.studentdrugtesting.org/Effectiveness.htm
and
w
w
w
.
d
a
t
i
a
.
o
r
g
References