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Findings from the most recent evaluation of El Camino, conducted by Child Trends, demonstrate that this culturally relevant program helps students, in high schools with large Latino populations develop the knowledge, attitudes, behaviors, and relationships that support their ability to make informed decisions about sex and pregnancy and achieve their goals.

Evaluation Findings, 2024

El Camino is an adolescent sexual health program that employs a positive youth development approach to encourage youth to define their personal goals and think about how they will attain them. Interactive lessons explore links between goal setting and sexual health decisions and provide information about sex, pregnancy, and healthy relationships.

Designed by Child Trends, this culturally relevant program helps students in high schools with large Latino populations develop the knowledge, attitudes, behaviors, and relationships that support their ability to make informed decisions about sex and pregnancy and achieve their goals.

To evaluate El Camino, Child Trends partnered with Identity, Inc. to implement El Camino during lunch, elective classes, or after school at 11 high schools in Maryland with large Latino populations. Researchers at the University of Maryland evaluated El Camino’s effectiveness: classrooms at each school were randomly selected to receive either El Camino or an alternative life skills program. This resource summarizes the demographic characteristics of student participants, their perceptions of the program, and pre- and post-test findings that highlight the need for sexual health education and the positive impacts of El Camino.

El Camino Program Reach


Spanish Classrooms

English Classrooms

Alternative Life Skills Program


Spanish Classrooms

English Classrooms

Demographics & Background of Students

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Average Age: 16.3

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Time in the United States

Time in the United States

Born outside of the U.S.: 75%

Age came to the U.S.: 14.1 (average)

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Language Spoken at Home

Language Spoken at Home

68% Mostly Spanish

11% Mostly English

19% Spanish & English

2% Other

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Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish-Origin: 84%

Black or African American: 9%

American Indian or Alaska Native: 2%

Asian: 2%

White: 2%

Other: 4%

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Grade in School

Grade in School

9th: 34%

10th: 39%

11th: 17%

12th: 8%

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Gender Identity

Gender Identity

Male: 43%

Female: 54%

Other/Missing: 3%

Students’ Pre-Program Survey Responses

Mental health at baseline

Percent of students who reported feeling each emotion some of the time, most of the time, or all of the time in the past 30 days.

  • Nervous 53% 53%
  • Like everything was an effort 44% 44%
  • Hopeless 35% 35%
  • Depressed 28% 28%
  • Worthless 22% 22%

Need for sexual health and positive youth development curricula

  • Students reported that they had had penis-vagina sex 26% 26%
  • Sexually active students who had sex without any contraceptive method in the 3 months prior 53% 53%

Students’ Survey Responses

Students who participated in El Camino had greater improvements in knowledge, self-efficacy, intentions, and attitudes from pre-test to post-test than students in the control group.

Self Efficacy

Students who definitely know where to go to get birth control

  • Pre-Test 21% 21%
  • Post-Test 51% 51%

Students who are completely confident in stating and asking for consent

  • Pre-Test 58% 58%
  • Post-Test 75% 75%

Students who are completely confident talking to their partner about sex

  • Pre-Test 33% 33%
  • Post-Test 46% 46%

Students who are completely confident in talking to their partner about condoms

  • Pre-Test 44% 44%
  • Post-Test 54% 54%

Knowledge of Questions Answered Correctly


  • Pre-Test 59% 59%
  • Post-Test 78% 78%

Birth Control

  • Pre-Test 24% 24%
  • Post-Test 39% 39%


  • Pre-Test 31% 31%
  • Post-Test 40% 40%

Awareness of contraceptive methods (average number of methods aware of)





Attitudes & Intentions

Students with positive attitudes towards condoms

  • Pre-Test 75% 75%
  • Post-Test 81% 81%

Students with the intention to use condoms

  • Pre-Test 64% 64%
  • Post-Test 76% 76%

Students rated El Camino highly at the post-test.


Rated program “excellent” or “very good”


Learned a lot from El Camino


Liked facilitators


Discussions helped them learn

Curriculum Update and Multi-Year Evaluation Study, 2020-2023

In 2020, Child Trends was awarded a three-year grant from the Office of Population Affairs to implement and rigorously evaluate El Camino. As part of this grant, Child Trends conducted a review of all project-related materials to ensure that materials are medically accurate, age-appropriate, trauma-informed, and user-centered. Based on feedback from trauma and medical experts, Child Trends revised materials to strengthen trauma-informed approaches.

These revisions include the following:

  • Changed how we refer to the program from “teen pregnancy prevention” to “sexual health promotion” to better reflect that the program focuses on setting goals, increasing knowledge and motivation to make informed sexual and reproductive health decisions, and enjoying healthy relationships
  • Added language and strategies to curriculum instructions on how to present sensitive information, such as sex, gender, consent, relationships, and verbal and nonverbal communication
  • Added norms around dealing with trauma responses, including content and trigger warnings for lessons and individual activities and discussions around the difference between feeling uncomfortable talking about a topic versus having a trauma reaction
  • Added acknowledgement that young people may have been forced or coerced into having sex in discussions around making decisions about having sex, and that the abuse is never the fault of the person being abused/raped
  • Added guidance for facilitators on discussing sexual identity and sexual orientation in an affirming way
  • Removed gendered language wherever possible, added information about how to prevent STIs for people who may not engage in penile-vaginal sexual intercourse, and provided additional resources and tips for facilitators on how to create more inclusive

Past publications and related resources described the El Camino curriculum as a teen pregnancy prevention program. We now refer to El Camino as a sexual health promotion program. This phrasing more accurately describes El Camino’s goals of providing tools for high school-age young people to set their own goals, feel empowered to make their own decisions about their sexual health, and enjoy healthy relationships by learning about communication and consent.



Preliminary Research & Outcomes, 2018

Preliminary research on El Camino’s implementation suggests that young people responded well to the curriculum and that participation led to changes in their attitudes and knowledge. For example, 91% of students reported that El Camino had made them less likely to have sex, more likely to use contraception, or more likely to use a condom. Completion of the curriculum increased students’ contraceptive knowledge and led participants to feel more comfortable talking about sex and consent with their partners.

Child Trends surveyed students before and after their participation in El Camino. At the post-test survey, Child Trends asked students whether they thought El Camino had made them more or less likely to have sex and whether, if they were to have sex, the program had made them more or less likely to use contraception or a condom.

Results were very encouraging, with the vast majority of students (91%) reporting that El Camino had made them either less likely to have sex, more likely to use contraception, or more likely to use a condom. Students reported high satisfaction with the program, and about three quarters said it was “excellent” or “very good.”

From pre-test to post-test, students who participated in El Camino also reported significant changes in important attitudes and knowledge.

  • Confidence about discussing sex and consent. Students reported feeling more confident in talking about sex and consent with their partners at the end of the program. 
  • Contraceptive knowledge. When given three questions about contraceptives, at the beginning and end of the program, students improved from getting 49 percent correct, on average, to getting 74 percent correct—a 25 percentage-point increase. 
  • Setting goals. Before El Camino, 64 percent of students agreed they had goals to accomplish before having a child. This increased to 80 percent of students at the end of El Camino. 

Get It Now: Curriculum Materials

El Camino is available to download in English and in Spanish, at no cost. Materials include:

  • Front Matter: Key Background Information for Implementing El Camino
  • El Camino Curriculum
  • Student Workbook
  • El Camino Adaptation Guide
  • Texto Preliminar: Información clave para implementar El Camino
  • Curriculo de El Camino
  • Cuaderno de Trabajo del Estudiante
  • El Camino Guía de Adaptación

Learn More

Check out these resources, briefs, reports, and presentations about El Camino.


Peer-Reviewed Publication

Comparing Virtual and In-Person Implementation of a School-Based Sexual Health Promotion Program in High Schools with Large Latino Populations

Many sexual health programs transitioned to virtual implementation during the COVID-19 pandemic, providing an opportunity to learn about how virtual implementation of El Camino—a sexual health education program that focuses on Latino adolescents—compares to in-person implementation.

This study assessed differences in program attendance, engagement, and measures of quality for virtual versus in-person implementation of El Camino. Attendance was higher during in-person implementation and in schools where the organization implementing El Camino had a strong presence before the pandemic. Student perceptions of the program and facilitators were positive in both the virtual and in-person cohorts.

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