History of the East Texas Abstinence Program and ESTEEM

The East Texas Abstinence Program (ETAP) has offered abstinence education services to schools and communities in the greater northeast Texas region since 1999. During this period, abstinence education was funded in part via various means including state and federal grants. Until 2004, ETAP primarily used various commercially produced abstinence curricula for the core education component.

Then in 2005, under the direction of ETAP Program Director, Tonya Waite, and with the extremely helpful input of parents, students, school teachers and key school administration, ETAP set out to design a curriculum 'in-house' that would better reflect the social, economic, and cultural needs of the cities, school districts and students being served. From 2005 to 2008 ETAP completed ESTEEM workbooks for grades 6-9 and this has been the sole curriculum used by ETAP since 2008. An 'upper-level' high school workbook for 11 thand 12 thgrades is also being designed. The four workbooks currently available include: Envision which is primarily used in 6th grade, Equip for 7th grade, Explore which is generally used in 8th grade, and finally Embark which is utilized in high schools. The aforementioned upper high school book is slated to be titled Expedition.

In addition to the creating the ESTEEM curriculum, which deliberately adheres to "A-H guidelines", ETAP worked with Dr. Tary Tobin, a Research Associate and Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of Oregon to create a curriculum specific assessment tool called the ESTEEM Student Questionnaire (ESQ). ETAP has consistently found the curriculum to be as or more impactful in changing student understanding and comprehension of subject matters presented as compared to other curricula used by ETAP in the past. In the lifetime of the East Texas Abstinence Program, over 94,000 students were educated from 45 school districts. Since 2008, the ESTEEM series has been taught to over 30,000 students.

The mission of the East Texas Abstinence Program has always been to create, support, and facilitate abstinence education in a manner such that teens would have enough factual information upon which they could make the decision to wait to have sex until marriage. Educators that utilize ESTEEM are tooled to teach adolescents the emotional, physical, and social risks associated with pre-marital sex as well as the difference between risk reduction and risk avoidance. ETAP's message is that abstinence is the only way to fully avoid risks that could cause severe if not life threatening consequences for teens and/or their future children.