Positive Action

An Evidence-Based Practice


Positive Action (PA) is an integrated and comprehensive program that involves the entire school community: students, faculty, support staff, administrators, students' family members, and people who live in the community surrounding the school. The PA program is grounded in a broad theory of self-concept positing that people determine their self-concepts by what they do; that actions, more than thoughts or feelings, determine self-concept; and that making positive and healthy behavioral choices results in feelings of self-worth. PA teaches children which actions are positive, that they feel good when they perform positive actions, and that they then have more positive thoughts and future actions. By explicitly linking thoughts, feelings, and actions, the program is believed to enhance the development and integration of affective and cognitive brain functions.

Goal / Mission

The goal of this program is to improve academic success, behavior, and character development.

Results / Accomplishments

Multiple studies have consistently found PA effective for improving achievement scores, attendance, and self-concept and for reducing drug use, violence, and other problem behaviors. Results were often better in more disadvantaged schools. Specifically, the Flay and Allred (2003) study found that participation in PA improved student behavior, school involvement, and academic achievement at all three levels of schools (elementary, middle, and high), with the results showing a clear dose-response relationship.

Compared with students in matched-control schools, students in elementary schools with PA:

- Scored an average of 45 percent better on the Florida Reading Test
- Obtained 4.5 percent better on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test
- Had 68 percent fewer violence incidents per 100 students
- Had 33.5 percent fewer out-of-school suspensions
- Had 12.7 percent fewer students absent for 21 or more days

Middle schools with three different levels of students from PA elementary schools (<60 percent, 60-79 percent and 80-100 percent) were compared. Compared with low-PA middle schools, medium-PA, and high-PA middle schools, respectively:

- Scored 10.8 percent and 16.5 percent better on reading
- Scored 11.4 percent and 20.6 percent better on math
- Reported 31-37 percent and 52-75 percent fewer incidents of problem behaviors (e.g. drug use, violence, property crime, disrespect)

High schools with three different levels of students from PA elementary schools (0-15 percent, 16-26 percent and 27-50 percent) were also compared. Compared with low-PA high schools, medium-PA, and high-PA high schools, respectively,

- Scored 2-6 percent and 9-15 percent better on five different standardized achievement tests
- Reported 26-50 percent and 49-63 percent fewer problem behaviors (e.g. substance use, violence, sexual behavior, falsifying records)
- Had 8 percent and 12 percent less truancy
- Had 11 percent and 37 percent lower dropout rates
- Had 31 percent and 38 percent more graduates continuing their education

About this Promising Practice

Primary Contact
Carol Gerber Allred, Ph.D.
Positive Action, Inc.
264 Fourth Avenue South
Twin Falls, ID 83301
(800) 345-2974
Education / School Environment
Social Environment / Children's Social Environment
Positive Action, Inc.
The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention's Model Programs Guide (MPG)
Date of publication
For more details
Target Audience
Children, Teens