Are Pee Tests a Drain on Student Morale?


Random drug testing does little to deter student athletes from using drugs, according to a study in the November Journal of Adolescent Health. In the two-year experiment, which was funded by a $3.6 million federal grant, five Oregon high schools were randomly chosen for testing. In four follow-up surveys, student athletes at those schools were just as likely to have used illegal drugs in the previous month as student athletes at six control schools. Self-reported past-year drug use at the schools with testing declined in two out of the four surveys. At the same time, students at the testing schools reported "less athletic competence," "less belief authorities were opposed to drug use," and "greater risk-taking" in all four surveys. In the final follow-up, appropriately enough, they "believed less in testing benefits" and "less that testing was a reason not to use drugs." The lead researcher, Linn Goldberg, told The Oregonian:

It shocked us….It's not that we were proponents or opponents [of drug testing]. We're proponents for kids' health. So we thought it was important to study the issue. Why waste money if it's not going to work?

With an attitude like that, Goldberg may be endangering his prospects of obtaining future government grants. Despite the lack of evidence that student drug testing accomplishes anything positive, the Bush administration has been pushing it for years.