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Ages 3-14

Rating: Level 3


Project ACHIEVE is designed to help schools, communities, and families develop, strengthen, and solidify youths’ resilience, protective factors, and self-management skills. Developed for use in preschool, elementary school, and middle school settings (i.e., with students ages 3 to 14), the program concentrates on improving school and staff effectiveness and places particular emphasis on increasing student performance in social skills and socioemotional development, conflict resolution, self-management, achievement and academic progress, positive school climate, and safe school practices. Project ACHIEVE has been replicated at more than 25 sites across the United States. While the target audience is predominantly elementary and middle school children, program components also have been used in high schools, alternative schools, psychiatric and juvenile justice facilities, Head Start and afterschool programs, and numerous specialized charter schools. Project ACHIEVE is put into action by following a series of carefully sequenced steps that generally occur over a 3-year period. The seven interdependent components:

1. Strategic Planning and Organizational Analysis and Development analyzes the facility’s operations and recommends specific program objectives and action plans. Moreover, it coordinates meaningful evaluation procedures.
2. Referral Question Consultation Problem-Solving Process uses a systematic, functional, problem-solving process to explain why student problems are occurring and links assessment to interventions that help students’ progress.
3. Effective Classroom and School Processes/Staff Development concentrates on developing and reinforcing classroom behaviors and school processes that maximize academic engagement and learning.
4. Instructional Consultation and Curriculum-Based Assessment and Intervention involves the functional assessment of referred students’ learning problems. It evaluates their response to and success with the curriculum and coordinates the instruction and interventions needed to teach them to master necessary academic skills.
5. Social Skills, Behavioral Consultation, and Behavioral Interventions facilitates implementation of effective interventions that address students’ curricular and behavioral problems, including “special situation” analyses, crisis prevention and intervention procedures, and team development.
6. Parent Training, Tutoring, and Support develops ongoing home–school collaboration, including the assessment, coordination, and use of community resources.
7. Research, Data Management, and Accountability reinforces the collection of formative and summative outcome data (including consumer satisfaction and time- and cost-effectiveness data) to validate various aspects of a schoolwide improvement process.


Project ACHIEVE has undergone a quasi-experimental design at the elementary school level. This evaluation used a matched-comparison design, with one treatment and one control school. In choosing a comparison school, researchers used school demographics, giving the greatest weight to the percentage of students on the Federal free-lunch program. Students in the treatment school were roughly 59 percent white, 38 percent African-American, and the rest other ethnicities. Students in the comparison school were roughly 54 percent African-American, 41 percent white, and 6 percent other ethnicities. Project ACHIEVE was implemented over a 3-year period. Data was collected in the treatment school during 4 academic years—1 year pretreatment and 3 years posttreatment. Data was collected in the comparison school during 1 academic year.


The evaluation finds that Project ACHIEVE, in comparison with the control group, reduces special education referrals, special education placements, the number of discipline referrals, the number of out-of-school suspensions, and the number of grade retentions. In addition, the evaluation shows positive trends in academic gains on the California Test of Basic Skills.

Risk Factors


  • Mental disorder/Mental health problem/Conduct disorder


  • Poor family attachment/Bonding


  • Inadequate school climate/Poorly organized and functioning schools/Negative labeling by teachers
  • Low academic achievement
  • Negative attitude toward school/Low bonding/Low school attachment/Commitment to school

Protective Factors


  • High expectations
  • Positive expectations / Optimism for the future
  • Social competencies and problem-solving skills


  • High expectations
  • Opportunities for prosocial family involvement


  • High expectations of students
  • High quality schools / Clear standards and rules
  • Opportunities for prosocial school involvement
  • Presence and involvement of caring, supportive adults
  • Strong school motivation / Positive attitude toward school
  • Student bonding (attachment to teachers, belief, commitment)


  • SAMHSA: Model Programs


Center for Prevention Research and Development for Illinois Prevention. 2000. Research-Based Program Models. Champaign, Ill., 59–60.

Knoff, Howard M. 2000. “Organizational Development and Strategic Planning for the Millennium: A Blueprint Toward Effective School Discipline, School Safety, and Crisis Prevention.” Psychology in the Schools 37(1):17–32.

Knoff, Howard M., and G.M. Batsche. 1995. “Project ACHIEVE: Analyzing a School Reform Process for At-Risk and Underachieving Students.” School Psychology Review 24(4):579–603.

Raffaele, L., and Howard M. Knoff. 1999. “Improving Home-School Collaboration With Parents of Children at Risk: Organizational Principles, Perspectives, and Approaches.” School Psychology Review 28(3):448–66.

Quinn, M.M.; D. Osher; C.C. Hoffman; and T.V. Hanley. 1998. Safe, Drug-Free, and Effective Schools for All Children: What Works! Washington, DC: Center for Effective Collaboration and Practice, American Institutes for Research.


Dr. Howard M. Knoff
Project ACHIEVE Incorporated
49 Woodberry Road
Little Rock, AR 72212
Phone: (501) 312-1484
Fax: (501) 312-1493
Web site: