development program objectives. Of the 60 programs reviewed, 15 were selected for inclusion in the review (see Table 6–1 for details). These 15 shared the following characteristics: a positive youth development focus, an experimental or quasi-experimental design, and a focus on youth not currently demonstrating problem behaviors. The programs were grouped into three categories (listed in order of how closely they matched a youth development framework): (a) programs focused on increasing positive behaviors and competencies (asset-focused programs); (b) programs focused on both reducing problem behaviors and increasing competencies and assets (problem-behavior and asset-focused programs); and (c) prevention programs focused on resistance skills.
The authors concluded that programs incorporating more elements of the youth development framework (a framework that seemed very consistent with the assets and features of settings developed in this report) showed more positive outcomes—that is, programs that focused on increasing more different assets and included more different types of program characteristics and opportunities. However, the evidence for this conclusion is weak, and the number of assets and features included in specific programs has not been systematically manipulated in such a way that such a conclusion is warranted at this point based on experimental and quasi-experimental evaluations. Like the Catalano et al. review, Roth and colleagues also concluded that the most effective programs included both caring adult-adolescent relationships and life skills development. In addition, the authors concluded that longer-term programs were more effective than short-term programs with limited goals. Again, however, the evidence for this is minimal.
This review stands out because it included a framework to categorize youth development programs; it focused on community-based (rather than school-based) programs; and it insisted on rigorous standards of evaluation before concluding that a program was effective. Thus it provides quite comprehensive evidence that community programs focused on youth development can be effective.
Unfortunately these evaluations still did not reveal much about either the long-term effects or the generalizability of these programs. There was also no insight about which specific aspects of the programs were most effective for any particular outcome or population group. Nonetheless, they do provide useful information about promising programs that should be considered for replication and for more intensive evaluation.