Studies show that over 66% of students with addiction problems who return to their former high schools after treatment quickly begin using drugs or alcohol again (Finch & Wegman, 2012). The development of University High School, a university-connected recovery high school in Austin, TX, will complete the puzzle for a solid range of services for adolescent addiction recovery.

While a number of the recovery high schools have been organically growing across the country, University High School, which opened September 2014, is designed with the innovation of integral utilization of university research and resources, thus, accomplishing a trifold mission: 1) Helping sober youth stay clean and sober in a supportive high school environment and in the holding environments of The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, and recovery communities; 2) Reducing risk and increasing protective factors with regard to relapse and/or drop-out; and (3 Laying a strong academic foundation and building bridges to higher education.

This grant will support the investigation and establishment of assessment tools to most effectively research the impact of University High School. The researcher will establish a clear framework for baseline measures, in accordance with The University of Texas at Austin Institute of Public Schools Initiatives (IPSI)’s Quality Framework for Charter Schools, along with plans to follow students through the program in regards to proximal and distal outcomes in both academic realms (e.g., high school graduation, grade point average, college boards, college applications, college acceptance, and college graduation) and recovery markers (e.g., length of sobriety, social skills, self-efficacy, community engagement, tools of recovery capital, and service to others).

From this project, Dr. Holleran Steiker will be able to determine the best research tools on all ecological levels (i.e. individual progress of students both academically and health-wise, effectiveness of the academic program, impact of the recovery support components, and assessment of the longitudinal impacts for the individual and aggregate). The final protocol will be used for a larger study of the efficacy of the model and the student outcomes.