Postive Action (PA)

About This Program

Target Population: Kindergarten (age 4–5) through Grade 8 (age 13–14) students

For children/adolescents ages: 4 – 14

Program Overview

Positive Action (PA) is a universal program created for students in school kindergarten–eighth grade that provides an instructor’s kit at each grade level. The program aims to motivate students intrinsically to be their best selves by teaching them that they feel good about themselves when they do positive actions. The program teaches the positive actions for the whole self: physical, intellectual social and emotional through six units, which are the same at each grade. This enables the entire school to be learning the same concept around the same time, thus providing the setting for use of the school wide climate development kit(s) to reinforce positive behaviors school wide daily. This reinforcement enables students to experience good feelings about themselves when they do positive actions. For students needing more intense support, there is a counselor’s kit. All kits have a manual with scripted lessons, planned activities and colorful, engaging supplementary materials.

Program Goals

The goals of Positive Action are:

  • Reduce behaviors that require disciplinary actions
  • Reduce bullying behaviors and violence
  • Reduce likelihood of being suspended or dropping out of school
  • Reduce substance use (tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs)
  • Reduce anxiety and depression
  • Reduce likelihood to solve problems aggressively
  • Reduce likelihood to cause damage to school property
  • Improve self-control
  • Improve social problem solving
  • Improve academics (math, reading, science)

Essential Components

The essential components of Positive Action (PA) include:

  • The K–8 curriculum includes an Instructor’s Kit:
    • Customized for each grade level
    • Used by teachers to teach the lessons
    • Required for each teacher
    • Used for one classroom of up to 30 students
    • Includes the following:
      • Lesson Manual – fully scripted lessons
      • Full-color posters
      • Visual Aids
      • Instructor’s worksheets
      • Student activity sheets/booklets
      • Student manipulatives
      • Student journals
      • Game boards
      • Puppets (early elementary)
      • Radio Plays (middle school)
  • The Climate Development Kits for Elementary or Secondary:
    • Designed for the school administrator, or other designated coordinator
    • Helps them coordinate the climate activities schoolwide as well as in the classrooms to reinforce the concepts and skills taught in the classroom lessons
    • Includes the following:
      • Principal’s manuals
      • Full-color posters (for hallways/common areas)
      • Calendars
      • Behavior and Celebration Plans
      • Committee handbooks
      • Sheet music
  • Elementary Climate specific materials:
    • Roles and Responsibilities chart (inside manual)
    • Support Staff handbooks
    • Parent handbooks
    • Balloons
    • Music
    • “Positive Notes” cards
    • Certificates of Recognition
  • Teacher’s Materials Boxes (for classroom reinforcement) with:
    • Tokens
    • Stickers
    • Word of the Week cards
    • ICU (I See You Doing Something Positive) Boxes
  • Secondary Climate specific materials:
    • Organizational chart
    • Conflict Resolution Plan Scenarios and Guide
    • Activity Sheets
    • Peace Flag
    • SOS (Salute Our Students) Boxes
  • The Counselor’s Kit:
    • Used by school counselors, social workers, school psychologists and therapists
    • Designed for students, of any age, who need more intensive services.
    • Can be used in the following ways:
      • One-on-one
      • Small or large groups
      • With their family members
    • Includes the following:
      • A manual, Positive Actions for Living
      • A Topical Guide to identify lessons for specific scenarios or issues (e.g., substance use, bullying, anxiety)
      • Conflict Resolution Kit
      • Behavior and Celebration Plans
      • Problem-solving and Decision-making Checklists
      • Posters
      • Game board
      • Music
      • Manipulatives

    Program Delivery

    Child/Adolescent Services

    Postive Action (PA) directly provides services to children/adolescents and addresses the following:

    • Being a student in a classroom setting; if present: depression, anxiety, aggression, substance use, disruptive behavior, obesity, school/academic failure, suspensions, truancy/excessive absenteeism

    Group Format

    Postive Action (PA) was not designed to be conducted in a group setting, and has not been tested for use in a group setting.

    Recommended Intensity:

    Elementary (K-6) is four 15-20-minute lessons per week. Middle School (Grade 7 & 8) is two-three 20-30-minute lessons per week.

    Recommended Duration:

    36 weeks per school year and up to 9 school years

    Delivery Setting

    This program is typically conducted in a(n):

    • School Setting (Including: Day Care, Day Treatment Programs, etc.)

    Homework

    This program does not include a homework component.

    Languages

    Postive Action (PA) has materials available in a language other than English:

    Spanish

    For information on which materials are available in this language, please check on the program's website or contact the program representative (contact information is listed at the bottom of this page).

    Resources Needed to Run Program

    The typical resources for implementing the program are:

    Personnel/teachers, classroom space, and desks or tables.

    The Instructor’s Kits come with all necessary materials to teach the lessons with exception to basic classroom items, such as pencils, markers, tape, scissors, and glue.

    Education and Training

    Prerequisite/Minimum Provider Qualifications

    Certified administrators and teachers are preferred; therefore the appropriate degrees for these positions are required.

    Education and Training Resources

    There is a manual that describes how to deliver this program, and there is training available for this program.

    Manuals:

    • Gerber Allred, C. (2019). Succeeding with Positive Action guide. Positive Action, Inc.
    • Gerber Allred, C. (2019). Implementation packet. Positive Action, Inc.
    • Gerber Allred, C. (2019). Five goals for implementing Positive Action. Positive Action, Inc.

    Instructor’s Kits which include manuals with an Introduction section that provides guidelines for delivery:

    • Gerber Allred, C. (2016). Pre-Kindergarten instructors kit. Positive Action, Inc.
    • Gerber Allred, C. (2011). Kindergarten instructors kit. Positive Action, Inc.
    • Gerber Allred, C. (2016). Grade 1 instructors kit (2nd ed.). Positive Action, Inc.
    • Gerber Allred, C. (2016). Grade 2 instructors kit. Positive Action, Inc.
    • Gerber Allred, C. (2016). Grade 3 instructors kit. Positive Action, Inc.
    • Gerber Allred, C. (2019). Grade 4 instructors kit. Positive Action, Inc.
    • Gerber Allred, C. (2016). Grade 5 instructors kit. Positive Action, Inc.
    • Gerber Allred, C. (2016). Grade 6 instructors kit. Positive Action, Inc.
    • Gerber Allred, C. (2016). Grade 7 instructors kit (2nd ed.). Positive Action, Inc.
    • Gerber Allred, C. (2016). Grade 8 instructors kit (3rd ed.). Positive Action, Inc.
    • Gerber Allred, C. (2007). High school year 1 instructors kit (2nd ed.). Positive Action, Inc.
    • Gerber Allred, C. (2016). High school year 2 instructors kit (2nd ed.). Positive Action, Inc.
    • Gerber Allred, C. (2016). High school year 3 instructors kit (2nd ed.). Positive Action, Inc.
    • Gerber Allred, C. (2016). High school year 4 instructors kit (2nd ed.). Positive Action, Inc.
    • Gerber Allred, C. (2015). Elementary bullying kit (2nd ed.). Positive Action, Inc.
    • Gerber Allred, C. (2007). Elementary drug kit. Positive Action, Inc.
    • Gerber Allred, C. (2012). Secondary drug kit (2nd ed.).Positive Action, Inc.
    • Gerber Allred, C. (2016). Elementary climate development kit. Positive Action, Inc.
    • Gerber Allred, C. (2020). Secondary climate development kit. Positive Action, Inc.
    • Gerber Allred, C. (2016). Counselor kit. Positive Action, Inc.

    Sample materials are available online (https://catalog.positiveaction.net/). A Program Specialist can also assist in providing materials to review in “preview version” which is a copy of an Instructor’s manual and instructor materials (i.e., instructor activity sheets and posters) plus one copy of all student materials, or as a complete kit. Previews are available for 45 days at no charge. Digital previews are also available in PDF format.

    Purchasing can be done with a Program Specialist or through an online catalog. Purchase orders, credit cards, checks, or wire transfers are accepted.

    Contact the training contact below for more information.

    Training Contact:
    Training is obtained:

    Training is available onsite or online via webinar. Positive Action customizes all training to fit the needs and goals of the customer. Onsite trainings are held at the trainee’s organization or an off-site location of their choosing. Online webinar trainings can also be held using the Zoom platform.

    Number of days/hours:

    A standard Orientation training is one-day onsite. If conducted via webinar, it is 2–5 plus hours depending on the scope of the program and needs of the customer.

    A Train the Trainers training is two to four days depending on the scope of the program and needs of the customer.

    Implementation Information

    Pre-Implementation Materials

    There are pre-implementation materials to measure organizational or provider readiness for Postive Action (PA) as listed below:

    The Succeeding with Positive Action Guide booklet has three parts and each part contains a Plan, Prepare, Implement, and Assess section. Part 1 is for setting up the whole program, Part 2 is for setting up the classroom and lessons, and Part 3 introduces the set up for the school wide climate development program. There is an accompanying Implementation Packet, which contains forms to collect needed information to customize a plan for the customer.

    A Needs Assessment Survey for teachers, principals and administrators provides a snapshot of their respective views on time spent addressing issues with students such as, disruptive behavior, truancy, bullying, substance use, character development, and teaching academic standards as well as their views on the importance of teaching about these issues.

    Formal Support for Implementation

    There is formal support available for implementation of Postive Action (PA) as listed below:

    Formal support is optional through a combination of teleconferencing, email, site visits, and webinars. The support is available throughout a site’s implementation; for as long as they opt for it. Positive Action provides surveys and set up for fidelity monitoring, program effectiveness outcomes, leadership and teacher coaching, assistance with creating and supporting specialized implementation plans, onsite and video classroom observations with feedback, guidance on adaptation, and Q and As.

    Fidelity Measures

    There are fidelity measures for Postive Action (PA) as listed below:

    The training contact (in the Education and Training section) can provide the measures upon request. Teachers fill out a survey at the end of each of six units, which are the same at each grade level. They answer questions regarding how much time they spent on the lessons, if they adapted lessons and if so how. They also respond to questions regarding how well they felt they presented the lesson and students responses to them. Self-report surveys are available online or paper.

    In addition, an evaluation platform called Impact that includes fidelity monitoring and end of year surveys for instructors in addition to pretest and posttest outcomes surveys for students is available. There is a hierarchy to view and access different data:

    • District or agency administrators are able to view data at the individual school/site and instructor/facilitator levels which includes the unit implementation report scores (instructor’s fidelity monitoring survey) among student measures. They are also able to view data at grade-level implementation and classroom/group implementation which includes average weekly lessons taught, time spent teaching and preparing lessons. Unit Implementation Reports (UIR; fidelity monitoring) data reflect the average scores by unit for a whole school/site with additional data available for specific UIR components: dosage, adaptation, use of materials, reinforcement, concept quality, responsiveness and student application. Climate activities which are part of the UIR are also reported separately at the school level. The instructor’s end of year survey provides average scores that include attitudes toward the program, daily reinforcement (classroom), school/site-wide reinforcement and helpfulness to students; helpfulness scores are also broke down by unit.
    • School/Site level administrators are another tier down and can view data similar to above however, only for their site.
    • Instructors/Facilitators can also view similar data for their own classroom/group and individual students only. Students’ pre and post surveys are administered at the instructor level. Instructors can also view their own reports for implementation fidelity, student outcomes scores (average) and end of year survey.
    • Schools/sites and students can be added individually or with a bulk upload. The platform also has a resource center with user manuals, FAQs, and videos.

    Implementation Guides or Manuals

    There are implementation guides or manuals for Postive Action (PA) as listed below:

    The Succeeding with Positive Action Guide booklet introduces the Positive Action program. It has three parts: one for implementing the program as a whole, one for teachers in the classrooms, and one for implementing the schoolwide climate program. Each part covers four goals, how to: plan, prepare, implement, and assess it in detail. Supplementary booklets (Implementation Packet, Five Goals for Implementing Positive Action and Implementation Plan Supporting Information) contain helpful forms to fill out for gathering the appropriate information, descriptions, definitions, and sample documents to assist in designing the right program for the customer.

    The Implementation Packet guides customers through planning and preparing for successful implementation:

    • Plan the creation of program
    • Create an Assessment Plan
    • Calendar your program for its duration:
      • When teachers will teach the lessons
      • When trainers will conduct trainings
      • When school climate activities will occur
      • When assessments will be completed
    • Determine accounting to properly manage funds
    • Order materials and services.

    The Five Goals for Implementing Positive Action is similar however includes additional planning and implementation checklists, and a memorandum of understanding for a more intense, whole-school improvement implementation.

    The Succeeding with Positive Action Guide and supplementary booklets are available by contacting the training contact.

    Implementation Cost

    There have been studies of the costs of implementing Postive Action (PA) which are listed below:

    Belfield, C., Bowden, B., Klapp, A., Levin, H., Shand, R., & Zander, S. (2015). The economic value of social and emotional learning. Journal of Benefit-Cost Analysis, 6(3), 508-544. https://doi.org/10.1017/bca.2015.55

    Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, & Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative. (2019, May). Cost-benefit analysis for PCCD’s evidence-based initiatives – full report: Investing in effective programs to improve lives and save tax payer dollars. http://www.episcenter.psu.edu/sites/default/files/outreach/Cost-Benefit_Analysis_for_PCCDs_Evidence-based_Initiatives_FULL-Report_5-28-19.pdf

    Washington State Institute for Public Policy. (2019, December). Positive Action. http://www.wsipp.wa.gov/BenefitCost/Program/538

    Research on How to Implement the Program

    Research has not been conducted on how to implement Postive Action (PA).

    Relevant Published, Peer-Reviewed Research

    Child Welfare Outcome: Child/Family Well-Being

    The CEBC reviews all of the articles that have been published in peer-reviewed journals as part of the rating process. When there are more than 10 published, peer-reviewed articles, the CEBC identifies the most relevant articles, with a focus on randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and controlled studies that have an impact on the rating. The articles chosen for Positive Action (PA) are summarized below:

    Beets, M. W., Flay, B. R., Vuchinich, S., Snyder, F. J., Acock, A., Li, K., Burns, K., Washburn, I. J., & Durlak, J. (2009). Use of a social and character development program to prevention substance use, violent behaviors, and sexual activity among elementary-school students in Hawaii. American Journal of Public Health, 99(8), 1438–1445. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2008.142919

    Type of Study: Randomized controlled trial
    Number of Participants: 2,939 (1,714 students; 1,225 teachers)

    Population:

    • Age — Not specified
    • Race/Ethnicity — 26.1% Primarily or Part Hawaiian, 22.6% Multiple Ethnic Backgrounds, 20.6% Other Asian, 8.6% Non-Hispanic White, 4.7% Other Pacific Islander, 4.6% Japanese, 1.6% African American, 1.7% American Indian, 7.8% Other, and 1.6% Unknown
    • Gender — 50% Female
    • Status — Participants were elementary school students in kindergarten to fifth- or sixth-grade public school.

    Location/Institution: 20 public elementary schools on three O‘ahu, Maui, or Moloka‘i Hawaii

    Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
    This article assessed the effectiveness of a 5-year trial of a Positive Action (PA) to prevent substance use, violent behaviors, and sexual activity among elementary-school students. Ten schools were randomly assigned to PA, and ten assigned to a control condition. Measures utilized included the archival school-level data were obtained from the Hawai‘i Department of Education (HDE) and developer created measures. Results indicate that student-reported substance use and violence were significantly lower for students attending intervention schools. Results also indicated that sexual activity was lower for intervention students. Teacher reports substantiated the effects seen for student-reported data. Reports also indicated that students exposed to the program for at least 3 years had significantly lower rates of all negative behaviors. Limitations include the reports of negative behaviors were collected only during fifth grade and only for the 2 cohorts followed in the study, only students who provided active parental consent and verbal assent responded to the negative behavior items, the use of a single item to assess voluntary sexual activity is unlikely to capture all the types of sexual activity that youth engage in, and reliance on self-reported data.

    Length of postintervention follow-up: 1 year (only reported data collected at grade 5).

    Li, K.-K., Washburn, I., DuBois, D. L., Vuchinich, S., Ji, P., Brechling, V., Day, J., Beets, M. W., Acock, A. C., Berbaum, M., Snyder, F., & Flay, B. R. (2011). Effects of the Positive Action programme on problem behaviors in elementary school students: A matched-pair randomised control trial in Chicago. Psychology & Health, 26(2), 187–204. https://doi.org/10.1080/08870446.2011.531574

    Type of Study: Randomized controlled trial
    Number of Participants: 1,170

    Population:

    • Age — Not specified
    • Race/Ethnicity — 46% African-American, 27% Hispanic, 7% White Non-Hispanic, 3% Asian, and 19% Other
    • Gender — 50% Female
    • Status — Participants were elementary school students in 3rd through 5th grade.

    Location/Institution: 14 elementary schools in Chicago, IL

    Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
    This study examined the effects of the Positive Action (PA) programme in Chicago Public Schools on problem behaviours among a cohort of elementary school students from grade three through grade five. Seven schools were randomly assigned to PA, and seven assigned to a control condition. Measures utilized included Unit Implementation Report, the Aggression Scale, the Frequency of Delinquent Behavior Scale, and researcher-developed survey questions. Results indicated that students in the intervention endorsed 31% fewer substance use behaviours, 37% fewer violence-related behaviours, and 41% fewer bullying behaviours, respectively, compared to students in the control schools. Reduction in reported disruptive behaviours was of a similar magnitude, but was not statistically significant. Limitations include the study did not have baseline data for about half of the sample, self-report of negative behaviours was used as a basis for outcome measures, small number of schools, high student mobility rate, and the measures of lifetime prevalence of substance use and serious violence-related behaviour used in this research were context-free.

    Length of postintervention follow-up: None.

    Washburn, I. J., Acock, A., Vuchinich, S., Snyder, F., Li, K.-K., Ji, P., Day, J., DuBois, D. L., & Flay, B. R. (2011). Effects of a social-emotional and character development program on the trajectory of behaviors associated with character development: Findings from three randomized trials. Prevention Science, 12, 314–323. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11121-011-0230-9

    Type of Study: Randomized controlled trial
    Number of Participants: 1,170 (Chicago Trial); 2,646 (Hawaii); 2,610 (Southeastern State Trial)

    Population:

    • Age — Not specified
    • Race/Ethnicity — 48% African-American, 27% Hispanic, and 19% Other
    • Gender — 53% Female
    • Status — Participants were predominately low-income, urban youth followed from 3rd through 8th grade.

    Location/Institution: 20 public elementary schools on three islands in Hawaii; 14 elementary schools in the Chicago Public School system; 8 rural public elementary schools in a southeastern state in the U.S.

    Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
    This study includes sample from Li et al. (2011). The effects of a school-based social-emotional and character development program, Positive Action (PA), on the developmental trajectory of social-emotional and character-related behaviors was evaluated using data from three school-based randomized trials in elementary schools. Results come from 1) 4 years of data from students in 20 Hawai’i schools, 2) 3 years of data from students in 14 schools in Chicago and 3) 3 years of data from students in 8 schools in a southeastern state. Seven schools were randomly assigned to PA, and seven assigned to a control condition. Measures utilized included data from three school-based randomized trials in elementary schools. Results showed that students in both control and PA schools exhibited a general decline in the number of positive behaviors associated with social-emotional and character development that were endorsed. However, the PA intervention significantly reduced these declines in all three trials. Limitations include variation in the implementation of the intervention that may have influenced its effects, the use of only student self-reports in the outcome, and the use of archival data. 

    Length of postintervention follow-up: None.

    Lewis, K. M., Bavarian, N., Snyder, F., Acock, A., DuBois, D. L., Schure, M. B., Silverthorn, N., Vuchinich, S., & Flay, B. R. (2012). Direct and mediated effects of a social-emotional and character development program on adolescent substance use. The International Journal of Emotional Education, 4(1), 56–78. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24308013/

    Type of Study: Randomized controlled trial
    Number of Participants: 1,170

    Population:

    • Age — Not specified
    • Race/Ethnicity — 48% African-American, 27% Hispanic, and 19% Other
    • Gender — 53% Female
    • Status — Participants were predominately low-income, urban youth followed from 3rd through 8th grade.

    Location/Institution: 14 low-performing K-8 Chicago public schools

    Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
    This study uses sample from Li et al. (2011). This goal of this study was to determine the effectiveness of a school-based social-emotional and character development (SECD) program, Positive Action (PA), in reducing substance use (SU) among a sample of U.S. youth living in a low-income, urban environment, and test one mechanism by which the program achieves its success. Seven schools were randomly assigned to PA, and seven assigned to a control condition. Measures utilized included Social-Emotional and Character Development (SECD) and the Risk Behavior Survey. Results indicated that program effects on both SECD and SU, a relationship between SECD and SU, and the effects of PA on SU were completely mediated by changes in SECD. Results also found that boys reported less of a decline in SECD than girls and that girls reported more alcohol use than boys; gender differences for all other substances were not significant. Limitations include the reliance on self-reported measures and generalizability to populations other than youth from low-income, urban environments. 

    Length of postintervention follow-up: None.

    Lewis, K. M., DuBois, D. L., Bavarian, N., Acock, A., Silverthorn, N., Day, J., Ji, P., Vuchinich, S., & Flay, B. R. (2013). Effects of Positive Action on the emotional health of urban youth: A cluster-randomized trial. Journal of Adolescent Health, 53(6), 706–711. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2013.06.012

    Type of Study: Randomized controlled trial
    Number of Participants: 1,170

    Population:

    • Age — Not specified
    • Race/Ethnicity — 48% African-American, 27% Hispanic, and 19% Other
    • Gender — 53% Female
    • Status — Participants were predominately low-income, urban youth followed from 3rd through 8th grade.

    Location/Institution: 14 low-performing K-8 Chicago Public Schools

    Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
    This study uses the sample from Li et al. (2011). This study examined the effects of Positive Action (PA) on the emotional health of predominately low-income and ethnic minority urban youth. Seven schools were randomly assigned to PA, and seven assigned to a control condition (business as usual). Measures utilized included the Positive and Negative Affect Scale for Children (PANAS), the Student Life Satisfaction Scale, the Behavior Assessment System for Children, and the Social-Emotional and Character Development Scale. Results indicated that students in PA schools, compared with those in control schools, had more favorable change over the course of the study in positive affect and life satisfaction as well as significantly lower depression and anxiety at study end point. Program effects for positive affect, depression, and anxiety were mediated by more favorable change over time in social-emotional and character development for students in PA schools. Limitations include the reliance on self-reported measures, the findings are generalizable only to schools that would self-select to participate in a trial of this nature, and the small number of schools.

    Length of postintervention follow-up: None.

    Lewis, K. M., Schure, M. B., Bavarian, N., DuBois, D. L., Day, J., Ji, P., Vuchinich, S., & Flay, B. R. (2013). Problem behavior and urban, low-income youth: A randomized controlled trial of Positive Action in Chicago. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 44(6), 622–630. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2013.06.012

    Type of Study: Randomized controlled trial
    Number of Participants: 1,170

    Population:

    • Age — Not specified
    • Race/Ethnicity — 48% African-American, 27% Hispanic, 19% other
    • Gender — 53% Female
    • Status — Participants were predominately low-income, urban youth followed from 3rd through 8th grade

    Location/Institution: 14 low-performing K-8 Chicago Public Schools

    Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
    This study uses the sample from Li et al. (2011). This study evaluated the effects of a school-based social–emotional learning and health promotion program, Positive Action (PA), on problem behaviors and related attitudes among low-income, urban youth. Seven schools were randomly assigned to PA, and seven assigned to a control condition (business as usual). Measures utilized included Normative Beliefs About Aggression Scale, the Orpinas and Frankowski’s Aggression Scale, the Risk Behavior Survey, the Aggression and Conduct Problem Subscales of the Behavior and Assessment System for Children (BASC), and modified questions from child problem-behavior scales. Results indicated that PA mitigated increases over time in (1) youth reports of normative beliefs supporting aggressive behaviors and of engaging in disruptive behavior and bullying (girls only) and (2) parent reports of youth bullying behaviors (boys only). At study endpoint, students in PA schools also reported a lower rate of violence-related behavior than students in control schools. School-wide findings indicated positive program effects on both disciplinary referrals and suspensions. Limitations include the reliance on self-reported measures, high mobility rates among students resulted in a high turnover of students in the study and study findings can be generalized only to similar schools.

    Length of postintervention follow-up: None.

    Lewis, K. M., Vucinich, S., Ji, P., DuBois, D., Acock, A., Bavarian, N., Day, J., Silverthorn, N., & Flay, B. R., (2016). Effects of the Positive Action program on indicators of positive youth development among urban youth. Applied Developmental Science, 20(1), 16–28. https://doi.org/10.1080/10888691.2015.1039123

    Type of Study: Randomized controlled trial
    Number of Participants: 544

    Population:

    • Age — Not Specified
    • Race/Ethnicity — Not Specified
    • Gender — Not Specified
    • Status — Participants were children in Kindergarden through 5th or 6th grade.

    Location/Institution: 20 public elementary schools in Hawaii

    Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
    This study examined the effects of a comprehensive elementary school-wide social-emotional and character education program, Positive Action (PA), on teacher, parent, and student perceptions of school safety and quality. School-level archival data, collected by the Hawaii Department of Education (HDE), were used to examine program effects at 1-year post-trial. Measures utilized included the archival school level data were obtained from the HDE Accountability Resource Center Hawaii as part of the state’s school quality survey (SQS). Results revealed that PA schools demonstrated significantly improved school quality compared to control schools, with 21%, 13%, and 16% better overall school quality scores as reported by teachers, parents, and students, respectively. Teacher, parent, and student reports on individual school-quality indicators showed improvement in student safety and well-being, involvement, satisfaction, quality student support, focused and sustained action, standards-based learning, professionalism and system capacity, and coordinated team work. Teacher reports also showed an improvement in the responsiveness of the system. Limitations include SQS data were only procurable at 1-year post-trial as PA schools continued to implement the program; therefore, effects were not examined at posttest, immediately after the formal trial, only 20 schools participated in the study, data regarding the school-quality indicators used were not available to the researchers at the student or classroom level, which precluded the ability to explore variation in reports of school quality between students within schools or within students across years and results are generalizable only to schools willing to implement a comprehensive SECD program. 

    Length of postintervention follow-up: 1 year

    Smokowski, P. R., Guo, S., Wu, Q., Evans, C. B. R., Cotter, K. L., & Bacallao, M. (2016). Evaluating dosage effects for the Positive Action program: How implementation impacts internalizing symptoms, aggression, school hassles, and self-esteem. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 86(3), 310–322. https://doi.org/10.1037/ort0000167

    Type of Study: Other quasi-esperimental
    Number of Participants: 5,894

    Population:

    • Age — Not specified
    • Race/Ethnicity — 28% White, 27% American Indian, 25% African American, 12% Mixed Race/Other, and 8.0% Latino/Hispanic
    • Gender — 51% Female
    • Status — Participants were middle school students in grades 6th, 7th, and 8th.

    Location/Institution: 27 public middle schools and 11 public high schools in two rural, low income counties in North Carolina

    Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
    This study examines how different dosages of Positive Action (PA) as measured by years participating in PA and number of PA lessons, impacts adolescent internalizing symptoms, aggression, perceptions of school hassles, and self-esteem over a 3-year period. One county served as the intervention county and received three interventions (Positive Action, Teen Court, and Parenting Wisely), whereas the other county received no interventions and served as the comparison county. Because the intervention county was larger both geographically and in student population, a random sample of 40% of youth in grades 6 through 8 were included from the intervention county. Measures utilized included the School Success Profile (SSP), and the School Success Profile Plus (SSP+). Results indicate that students who received 3 years of the PA intervention and a high number of PA lessons had a significantly higher self-esteem score than those who received 0 years of PA or zero lessons. Participants who received 1 year of PA also reported significantly lower school hassle scores than those who received 0 years. Dosage had no statistically significant effects on aggression or internalizing score. Limitations include propensity score analysis was used, the reliance on self-reported measures, matched-control group should be more similar to the intervention group, and multiple teachers taught PA, it is likely that the lessons were taught in slightly different ways, which could have impacted the results.

    Length of postintervention follow-up: None.

    Duncan, R., Washburn, I. J., Lewis, K. M., Bavarian, N., DuBois, D. L., Acock, A. C., Vuchinich, S., & Flay, B. R. (2017). Can universal SEL programs benefit universally? Effects of the positive action program on multiple trajectories of social-emotional and misconduct behaviors. Prevention Science, 18(2), 214–224. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11121-016-0745-1

    Type of Study: Randomized controlled trial
    Number of Participants: 1,130

    Population:

    • Age — Not specified
    • Race/Ethnicity — 51% African-American, 28% Hispanic, and 20% Other
    • Gender — 53% Female
    • Status — Participants were predominately low-income, urban youth followed from 3rd through 8th grade.

    Location/Institution: 14 low-performing K-8 Chicago Public Schools

    Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
    This study uses the sample from Li et al. (2011). The current study used growth mixture models to examine effects of the Positive Action (PA) program on behavioral trajectories of social-emotional and character development (SECD) and misconduct using data from a cluster-randomized trial that involved 14 schools and a sample of predominately low-income, urban youth followed from 3rd through 8th grade. Schools were randomized within matched pairs into either treatment (school received Positive Action) or control (business as usual). Measures utilized included the Social-Emotional and Character Development (SECD) scale, the Aggression Scale, and the Frequency of Delinquent Behavior Scale. Results indicate that per the SECD, findings indicated that PA was similarly effective at improving trajectories within latent classes characterized as “high/declining” and “low/stable.” Favorable program effects were likewise evident to a comparable degree for misconduct across observed latent classes that reflected “low/rising” and “high/rising” trajectories. Limitations include the reliance on self-reported measures of SECD and misconduct and the small number of schools involved in the study. 

    Length of postintervention follow-up: None.

    Additional References

    Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development. (n.d.). Positive Action. https://www.blueprintsprograms.org/programs/positive-action/

    Corcoran, R. P. (2018, March 20). Children benefit when taught social and emotional skills – but some methods are better than others. The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/children-benefit-when-taught-social-and-emotional-skills-but-some-methods-are-better-than-others-90984

    What Works Clearinghouse. (n.d.). Positive Action. https://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/Intervention/208

    Contact Information

    Keri Metzger
    Agency/Affiliation: Positive Action, Inc.
    Website: www.positiveaction.net
    Email:
    Phone: (800) 345-2974 or (208) 733-1328

    Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed by CEBC: May 2020

    Date Program Content Last Reviewed by Program Staff: October 2020

    Date Program Originally Loaded onto CEBC: September 2020