Student Assistance Programs (SAPs) are comprehensive school-based (K-12) services designed to assist (1) educational institutions in addressing behavioral/performance issues and (2) students in identifying and resolving personal concerns, including but not limited to alcohol and other drugs, family, emotional, stress or other personal issues that may affect academic performance and behavior. Student assistance programs focus on behavior and performance at school, using a process to screen students for personal problems that include alcohol and other drug abuse. SAPs represent a partnership between community health agencies and educational institutions, and may rely on internal/contractual staff or community agencies for assessment and treatment services.
The purpose of student assistance programs is to provide school faculty and staff with a mechanism for helping students with a wide range of personal problems. Faculty and other school staff receive training on how to identify youths experiencing performance/behavioral problems. However, they are not expected to intervene personally. Students are referred to the SAP for assessment and referral.
While Student Assistance Programs can produce innumerable benefits for students and their
families, the following are recurring and core expectations. A Student Assistance Program is
• Improve school performance as measured by change in grades, attendance and policy
• Prevent further problems in student’s lives
• Postpone, prevent, or reduce the use of alcohol, marijuana and other drugs
• Improve coping, communication skills, resistance skills
• Increase protective factors, reduce risk factors, and promote resilience
Ongoing evaluation is necessary to ensure that Student Assistance Programs grow and evolve to
meet student needs K-12. A successful Student Assistance Program evaluation will assess the
program’s measurable goals and objectives and use the results of the evaluation to refine
objectives, and improve activities and services. Ultimately, a Student Assistance evaluation
should show positive student changes in grades, alcohol and other drug use, violence, attendance, discipline attitude and disruptive behavior, and more helpful and hopeful attitudes on the part of a school’s faculty and discipline staff.