Positive Action

Elementary SELect Program

Program Design and Implementation Support

The Positive Action program is designed to promote a healthy self-concept and to establish positive actions for the body and mind. The program emphasizes effective self-management, social skills, character, and mental health, as well as skills for setting and achieving goals. The Positive Action classroom curriculum contains separate sets of lessons for use each year, from prekindergarten through twelfth grade. Each grade has approximately 140 sequenced lessons, all of which include a step-by-step script organized around a different theme. All content is based on a single fundamental philosophy: You feel good about yourself when you do positive actions (positive self- concept), and there is a positive way (positive actions) to do everything. Additional program components support classroom-wide, school- wide, family, and community involvement. Positive Action offers separate units for bullying prevention, drug education, conflict resolution, and promoting a positive school climate that can each be added to the core program. Initial training for the Positive Action program typically lasts one-half day to five days, dependent upon scope and sequence of implementation, and is not required. Positive Action offers a train-the-trainer system to support sustainability. Program Description Video

Evidence of Effectiveness

Positive Action has been evaluated in multiple, large (e.g., n=1,714) randomized control trials and quasi-experimental trials (two RCTs, two quasi-experimental). Evaluations have followed students for up to a three-year period.


Beets, M. W., Flay, B. R., Vuchinich, S., Snyder, F. J., Acock, A., Li, K.-K., Burns, K., Washburn, I. J., & Durlak, J. (2009). Use of a social and character development program to prevent substance use, violent behaviors, and sexual activity among elementary-school students in Hawaii. American Journal of Public Health, 99, 1438-1445.
Flay, B. R. & Allred, C. G. (2003). Long-term effects of the Positive Action program. American Journal of Health Behavior, 27(Supplement 1), S6-S21.
Flay, B. R., Allred, C. G., & Ordway, N. (2001). Effects of the Positive Action program on achievement and discipline: Two matched-control comparisons. Prevention Science, 2, 71-89.
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 and Health, 26, 187-204.
Snyder, F., Flay, B., Vuchinich, S., Acock, A., Washburn, I., Beets, M., & Li, K.-K. (2010). Impact of a social-emotional and character development program on school-level indicators of academic achievement, absenteeism, and disciplinary outcomes: A matched-pair, cluster-randomized, controlled trial. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 3, 26-55.