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Positive Action

Ages 5-18

Rating: Level 2


Developed by Carol Gerber Allred, Ph.D. of Positive Action Inc., the Positive Action (PA) program is a nationally recognized, evidence-based program that has been improving academics, behavior, and character for the benefit of individuals, families, schools, and communities for 25 years. PA uses an audience-appropriate, curriculum-based approach to effectively increase positive behaviors and decrease negative behaviors. PA relies on intrinsic motivation for developing and maintaining positive behavioral patterns and teaches the skills for learning and motivation for achieving success and happiness for everyone. The universal premise, that you feel good about yourself when you do positive actions and there is always a positive way to do everything, is represented by the self-reinforcing “Thoughts-Actions-Feelings” Circle- positive thoughts lead to positive actions, positive actions, lead to positive feelings about ones self, and positive feeling lead to more positive thoughts.

Since 1982, PA has successfully been implemented in more than 15,500 national and international alternative and mainstream settings. It encompasses all ages, genders, ethnicities, cultures, and socio-economic levels in rural, suburban, and urban areas. PA is not limited to only K-12 classroom settings. The program is successfully utilized in before- and after-school programs, social service agencies, detention centers, home schooling, youth programs, family and juvenile justice agencies, penal institutions, probation and parole settings, mental health and welfare agencies, faith-based organizations, public housing developments, and other programs specifically for high, at-risk, special-needs, and disadvantaged individuals, families, schools, and communities/ The versatile, universal and flexible nature of the PA concepts and components make it an ideal program for any setting.

The program has been delivered to and found to be effective with the diverse ethnic and racial groups, it has also been delivered to an found to be effective with court mandated family groups. PA currently offers K-3, 7-8, and Middle School Drug Program curriculum in Spanish. Refresher kits are available for all PA kits.

The PA program portfolio features interactive, ready-to-use kits that contain 15- and 20-minutes of scripted, user-friendly lessons for grades K-12, grade 5 and Middle School Drug Education, Conflict Resolution, Climate Development, Counselors, Families, and Communities. PA program materials are easy to use and to achieve the best results, personnel will need appropriate orientation and follow-up training for his or her role in the program as well as information regarding their specific roll in meeting the goals of the school, district, or organization. PA training helps new program users understand the program vision and objectives, establishes cohesive and the shared goals among members for program implementation, and provides helpful tips to achieve the best results from the programs. Different types of training options are available based on your organizations specific needs.


The Principle Investigator, Dr. Brian Flay of Oregon State University, conducted four studies to measure changes in student behavior and achievement in Hawaii, Nevada, and a large southeaster rural school district.

The most recent study involved a recent matched-control experimental study in Hawaii. This study asked students about their involvement in positive and negative behaviors. Students were also asked about substance use; including tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana. Rates were compared from pretest to posttest for individual students, as well as between program school students receiving the PA program and students in control schools.

Prior match-controlled studies in Hawaii and Nevada involved school-level archival data on behavior and student achievement (disciplinary rates, attendance, achievement, etc.).

An improved match-controlled study (with pre-test data) also included and assessment of long term effects when PA-exposed students graduate into middle and high school.

Measures from these four studies included:
• Academics: Academic Achievement, Likely to Be Employed, Obtain Higher Education
• Problem Behaviors: Tobacco Use, Drug Use, Alcohol Use, Absenteeism, Criminal Bookings, Disciplinary Referrals, Dissing Behaviors (Disrespect, Disobedience, Disruptive Behavior), Dropping Out, Early Sexual Behavior, Property Crime, Retentions, Sexual Incidents, Suspensions, Violence
• School Involvement: Attendance, AYP, Cooperative Behavior, Increase in Positive Feelings, Parental Involvement, Self-Control


Data from the most recent study, a matched-control randomized experimental study in Hawaii, indicated that students in the experimental-group were 37% less likely to engage in substance use behavior, 30% less likely to have used tobacco, and 35% less likely to have used alcohol, 78% less likely to have been drunk, and 10% less likely to have tried and illegal drug.

Results from the two school-level data studies in Hawaii and Nevada indicate schools that used Positive Action had reduced disciplinary referrals (78%-85% less) and higher levels of achievement (16%-52%).

Results from the long-term effectiveness study in Florida indicate a clear dose-response relationship for all outcomes: middle schools with high proportions of students who received Positive Action in elementary schools had 52%-75% less problem behaviors (including tobacco, alcohol, drug use) than students in low-Positive Action schools; students in medium-Positive Action high schools were 19%-50% less likely, and students in high-Positive Action schools were 28%-63% less likely, to engage in problem behaviors (including tobacco, alcohol, and drug use) than students in low-Positive Action schools.

Risk Factors


  • Anti-social behavior and alienation/Delinquent beliefs/General delinquency involvement/Drug dealing
  • Early onset of aggression and/or violence
  • Favorable attitudes toward drug use/Early onset of AOD use/Alcohol and/or drug use


  • Family history of the problem behavior/Parent criminality
  • Family management problems/Poor parental supervision and/or monitoring
  • Pattern of high family conflict
  • Poor family attachment/Bonding


  • Dropping out of school
  • Inadequate school climate/Poorly organized and functioning schools/Negative labeling by teachers
  • Low academic achievement
  • Low academic aspirations
  • Negative attitude toward school/Low bonding/Low school attachment/Commitment to school
  • Truancy/Frequent absences


  • Availability of alcohol and other drugs
  • Community crime/High crime neighborhood
  • Community instability
  • Low community attachment


  • Association with delinquent and/or aggressive peers
  • Peer alcohol, tobacco, and/or other drug use

Protective Factors


  • Religiosity / Involvement in organized religious activities
  • Self-efficacy
  • Social competencies and problem-solving skills


  • Good relationships with parents / Bonding or attachment to family


  • Prosocial opportunities for participation / Availability of neighborhood resources


  • SAMHSA: Model Programs
  • Department of Education


Flay, Brian R., Alan Acock, Sam Vuchinich, and Michael Beets. 2006. Progress Report of the Randomized Trial of Positive Action in Hawaii; End of Third Year of Intervention. Oregon State University.

Flay, Brian R., and Carol Gerber Allred. 2003. Long-Term Effects of the Positive Action Program. American Journal of Health Behavior 27(1):S6-S21.

Flay, Brian R., Carol Gerber Allred, and Nicole V. Ordway. 2001. Effects of the Positive Action Program on Achievement and Discipline: Two Matched-Control Comparisons. Prevention Science 2(2):71-90.


Carol Gerber Allred, Ph.D.
Positive Action, Inc.
264 Fourth Avenue South
Twin Falls, ID 83301
Phone: (800) 345-2974
Fax: (208) 733-1590
Web site: