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Peabody Journal of Education, Volume 89, Issue 2, 2014

Recovery Schools

Substance abuse problems now affect over 8,000,000 Americans between the ages of 12-25. As this population is of school age and substance abuse generally occurs with and among peers, schools often function as enabling environments for students. Further, addressing substance abuse problems among students in their actual school settings is likely to improve their academic performance, their likelihood to avoid future abuse and their interactions with positive peer influences.

This issue of the Peabody Journal of Education: Issues of Leadership, Policy and Organizations discusses the research on the structure of recovery schools, where students receive substance abuse education in addition to academic instruction on campus. This model began at the collegiate level in 1979 at Brown University and has expanded to lower levels of schooling in recent years, but research on recovery schools remains limited. In this issue, Guest Editor Andrew Finch leads an examination of the history of recovery schools, a conceptual discussion of recovery school models, a summary of extant research and challenges for the evaluation of such schools in a modern context.

Finch and Karakos begin the issue with an introduction to the history of recovery schools on college campuses before discussing their growth and expansion. Further, they delineate the scope of the connection substance abuse and schools, as the campus is the center of peer interaction as well as an environment in which students spend much of their time. Further, students recovering from substance abuse problems often return to their schools only to encounter risk factors that led to their initial abuse and often lead to relapse. Thus, recovery schools were formed to build environments conducive to recovery as well as academic development. Moberg, Finch and Lindsley then review extant empirical work on recovery schools with emphasis upon school and student characteristics.

Moberg and colleagues then discuss early results from their quasi-experimental study on recovery high school effectiveness before the following two articles more deeply explore methodological issues surrounding this research. Tanner-Smith and Lipsey review propensity score matching as a technique to employ in this context before Botzet and colleagues explore the myriad implementation challenges involved in conducting extensive research on recovery high schools. Karakos then shifts the focus away from methodology and analyzes qualitative data from the quasi-experimental study, emphasizing perceptions of peer support in recovery school settings.

Harris and colleague shift the context of the analysis to post secondary institutions, as they review the literature on recovery schools in higher education. Thompson and colleagues than explore the concept of servant leadership in this context and detail its alignment with the support structures in recovery schools. Finally, the last two articles discuss recovery schooling through an ecological lens, as Fisher ties research implications from collegiate recovery programs to recovery high schools in terms of structural supports of adolescents. Finch and Frieden close the issue by analyzing recovery school programs’ support of adolescent recovery through various theoretical lenses.

We at the Peabody Journal of Education: Issues of Leadership, Policy and Organizations would like to thank Paul Finch and Holly Karakos, as well as each of the authors who contributed to this issue, for their excellent work and collaboration. It is our hope that this issue will serve to benefit practitioners, researchers an family alike.