|V. Violence & Bullying Prevention|
Six Principles of Effectiveness
The Positive Action program has been used effectively as a Safe and Drug-Free Schools program since 1982 in over 10,000 schools, districts, and other agencies. Throughout its history, the Positive Action program has worked to establish safe, disciplined, drug-free schools and communities throughout the United States and in some foreign countries. To this day, Positive Action continues to be the science-based program to meet the needs identified by many schools, districts, and other sites.
The Positive Action program has all the characteristics recommended for effective Safe and Drug-Free Schools (SDFS) programs by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools (OSDFS). Positive Action is on the list of recognized programs created by the Expert Panel in 2001. There are six Principles of Effectiveness used as guidelines for states to qualify for Title IV, Safe and Drug-Free Schools federal funds. The Positive Action program assists schools/districts to meet all six principles.
The following are the six SDFS Principles of Effectiveness used by states and schools/districts to be in compliance with the Federal guidelines.
Recipients will base their programs on a thorough assessment of objective data about the drug and violence problems in the schools and communities. Schools/sites generally seek out Positive Action after a thorough needs assessment of objective data has been performed. Once the specific needs are identified, the Positive Action staff works together with the site personnel to design a unique program to meet those needs. They will also help sites set measurable goals and implement and evaluate the customized Positive Action program to meet their needs and create a safe and drug-free environment.
The comprehensiveness of the Positive Action program always makes it a good choice to meet identified needs. Because it includes a K-12 instruction curriculum, site-wide climate development, counseling, parent, and community components, it is sure to have the appropriate materials to meet the needs of individuals, schools/sites, families, and communities.
Positive Action decreases drug, alcohol, and tobacco use, violence, bullying, discipline referrals, suspensions, and truancies, as well as developing youth, their character, and their self-concepts. Positive Action is one of the few prevention programs that improves academics and attendance as well.
By teaching positive actions for the physical, intellectual, social, and emotional areas for all ages, in all ecologies, the Positive Action program is sure to work for any needs identified. It does prevention, academics, behavior, and much more. Positive Action works to increase positive behavior and decrease negative behavior for the whole self. It combines at least 18 programs into one for maximum efficiency and effectiveness.
Recipients will establish a set of measurable goals and objectives with assistance from a local or regional advisory council and design their activities to meet those goals and objectives. Once a school/site determines that it is ready to set goals and objectives with assistance from a local or regional advisory council, Positive Action can help the site personnel in that process. The Positive Action Coordinator and Committee (with representatives of all users) help the existing local or regional council and site personnel set the goals and objectives and design their program appropriately to achieve and measure those goals and objectives.
This comprehensive program is unique because it is able to address most goals and objectives. The mission statement of Positive Action is compatible with the missions of most sites. Positive Action strives, “To improve society by teaching and promoting the positive actions that lead individuals, families, schools/sites, and communities to success and happiness, which is feeling good about who you are and what you are doing (being the best you can be).”
The program has components for K-12 Instruction Curriculum, Climate, Counselors, Family, and Community. They are united by a philosophy, the Thoughts-Actions-Feelings Circle graphic, and six focus units. The philosophy states that you feel good about yourself when you do positive actions, and there is always a positive way to do everything. This is demonstrated by the Thoughts-Actions-Feelings Circle, which explains that positive thoughts lead to positive actions, positive actions lead to positive feelings about yourself, and positive feelings lead to more positive thoughts. The circle can be positive or negative, and these circles become the cycles of life. Destinies are determined by these positive and negative life cycles. The intuitive philosophy and the circle are further explained in the six focus units that teach positive actions for the physical, intellectual, social, and emotional areas.
The six units are consistent throughout all components of the program, aligning them and creating a seamless, cohesive whole when the components are used together or in any combination. Any part of the program can also effectively stand alone. The following are the Positive Action program components.
These materials , united by an intuitive philosophy and six focus units, will help any site meet their goals and objectives. The following Positive Action goals demonstrate how it aligns with the goals and objectives of many diverse sites.
Goal 1: Student Academic and Behavioral Development
Goal 2: Families
Goal 3: Schools/Sites Climate
Goal 4: Communities
Goal 5: Training and Staff Development
Goal 6: Multilevel
Recipients will design and implement their activities based on research or evaluation proving that the strategies used prevent or reduce drug use, violence, or disruptive behavior among youth. The Positive Action model, based upon multiple scientific theories of education and behavior change— including self-concept, social learning, cognitive behavior, neuroscience, social ecologies, and positive psychology—is an effective program for safe and drug-free schools.
It is particularly relevant to the Theory of Triadic Influence by Dr. Brian Flay, which illustrates the importance of social influences on behavior. It suggests that in order to practice effective prevention, you need to address all three areas of influence: biology, family, and community. Positive Action does this.
Positive Action motivates students, teachers, facilitators, staff, and parents to engage in positive actions to feel good about themselves. The program teaches the skills needed to engage in positive behaviors. These include: self-management, decision-making, problem solving, anger control, empathy, and communication skills. Many research studies have proven these skills effective in the prevention of drug, alcohol, and tobacco use, unsafe sexual behaviors, violence, other discipline problems, and gang involvement. Positive Action also improves attachment to the school/site, teacher/facilitator and parent involvement, everyday learning, academic performance, and achievement test scores.
Data from various comparison group designs involving over 300 elementary schools using the Positive Action program demonstrate consistent positive effects in the following areas.
From the 1970s to the present, several thousand other schools from different states have reported similar results from individual case studies (simple pre-post comparisons or anecdotal reports). These results were obtained from all types of schools: urban, suburban, and rural, and schools with high and low minority representation, mobility rates, and poverty. Some of these results are reported in a peer-reviewed research journal (Prevention Science, June 2001).
It is noteworthy that results were equally positive or better across ethnic groups and levels of poverty (usually indicated by percentage of students receiving free/reduced lunch). Unlike other programs, the Positive Action program almost always produced positive results in schools with high student mobility rates and levels of poverty.
Structural equation modeling shows that the Positive Action program reduces the normally high correlation between poverty and other risk factors and achievement. These are exceptionally important findings, as intervention effects of other programs have often been found to be smaller in schools with high proportions of minority students, poverty, or mobility. No other program has proven effects across so many academic and behavioral domains, and no other program demonstrates equal or superior effectiveness in the most needy of schools/sites.
Results from long-term follow-up of students who participated in the Positive Action program in elementary school demonstrate that the effects of this program can carry on once students graduate from elementary school. Behavior and achievement are better in middle or high schools with more Positive Action graduates. The following results were reported in a peer reviewed research journal (American Journal of Health Behavior, 2003).
For example, middle schools with high proportions (80-100%) of students who had PA in elementary school reported:
High schools with high proportions (27-50%) of students who had Positive Action in elementary school reported:
These effects were equally strong in high risk schools, in large and small schools, in schools with high and low minority populations, and in schools with high and low mobility.
The Positive Action program is the most notable program to date to report strong effects on both achievement and multiple problem behaviors (violence, drug use, crime, suspensions, and discipline) from many diverse types of schools. These effects have great practical and statistical significance and have important effects on policy.
Recipients will base their program on a science-based analysis of the prevalence of risk and protective factors throughout their schools and communities. Once a site has determined the prevalence of risk factors and the existence of protective factors, they choose a program to help them decrease those risk factors while maintaining and building on the protective factors. Positive Action serves both purposes concurrently, and addresses the following risk and protective factors outlined by J.D. Hawkins, Ph.D. and R.F. Catalano, Ph.D. in numerous studies on prevention science.
Protective Factors Addressed:
Risk Factors Addressed:
The Positive Action mission statement and goals make it an ideal program for increasing protective factors and decreasing risk factors in any setting.
Recipients will establish meaningful and ongoing consultation with parents to gain input about the development and administration of their programs. The Positive Action program involves parents at all levels to ensure family support and feedback. Parents are part of the Positive Action Committee, led by the Coordinator, that adopts the Positive Action program and helps guide the program purposes by assisting the school in the development of its mission statement and goals. They are also included in subsequent decisions concerning the continuation and rejuvenation of the Positive Action program in the school and community. Parents help in evaluation of program outcomes by completing assessment surveys and opinionnaires and by assisting the Positive Action Committee as it conducts the evaluation.
In addition to being part of the decision-making process, parents are directly involved in the curriculum. Homework assignments in the form of send-home worksheets and other activities encourage parents to participate in Positive Action curriculum lessons. The Parent’s Manual from the Climate Kit shows parents how to follow along with lesson schedules, reinforcing concepts already taught in the school/site. Additionally, parents may provide special resources or act as role models and mentors, bringing unique talents and imagination to classroom work and the site-wide climate.
The Positive Action program can also be brought into the home with the Family Kit. The Family Kit includes a manual of 42 easy-to-use weekly lessons with lively stories and fun-filled activities for all ages. Lesson concepts parallel and are coordinated with K-12 instruction lessons and climate, counselor, and community components, providing a seamless, integrated approach.
The Family Kit can also be used for parenting classes. The Family Kit Instructor’s Manual provides a condensed parenting class with seven sessions that teach parents how to use the Family Kit. Each session provides three separate classes for elementary aged children, teenagers, and parents, and then combines all three groups together for a final class. After the seventh session, families are encouraged to purchase or are given the Family Kit and continue using it in their homes. Sometimes follow-up is provided.
Recipients will evaluate their programs periodically to assess their progress toward achieving their goals and objectives and use their evaluation results to refine, improve, and strengthen their programs and refine their goals and objectives as appropriate. Positive Action has evaluation instruments for elementary (three levels) and secondary school levels for teachers/facilitators, support staff, students, and parents. All instruments are available in either pen-and-paper or web-based formats that can be downloaded free of charge from the Positive Action website.
Positive Action, Inc. provides these evaluation instruments in collaboration with Dr. Brian Flay, University of Illinois at Chicago.
For schools, districts, or communities that desire it, Positive Action, Inc. and the University of Illinois at Chicago offer evaluation support or consultation services that can include help with any or all of the following: obtaining parental consent, data collection, data entry, data analysis, and report writing.
Implementation assessment enables schools, sites, districts, or communities to track how well the program is being implemented in their various units (classrooms, families, schools, or organizations).
Process evaluation provides information on target audience (students, instructors, parents, and others) participation in the program, how well they like the program, and how useful they find it.
Pre- and post-test data on student attitudes, self-concept, behavior, and achievement (collected via self-report by students, ratings by instructors, and/or parental reports) provide an estimate of the effects of the program on student outcomes. Similar kinds of data can be collected from parents who participate in the family program. Instructors, whether in schools with students or other settings with parents, provide data on program effects on themselves and program participants. Ideally, of course, such data should also be collected from a control or comparison group.