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Peace Works

Ages 4-18

Rating: Level 3


Peace Works is a curriculum that teaches students the dispositions, behaviors, and skills necessary to peaceably resolve conflict. The goals of Peace Works are to

  • Promote students’ prosocial behavior through the use of conflict resolution
  • Enhance school climate through caring and support
  • Teach parents constructive problem solving and anger management
  • Improve parents’ positive affiliation with school

The model contains grade-specific, classroom-tested curricula for prekindergarten through 12th grade. The modules, which offer from 16 to 48 lessons a year, are

  • Peacemaking Skills for Little Kids (prekindergarten through 2nd grade)
  • Peace Scholars (grades 3–4)
  • Creative Conflict Solving for Kids (fifth grade)
  • Creating Peace, Building Community (grades 6–7)
  • Fighting Fair (eighth grade)
  • Win! Win! (grades 9–12)

There also is a peer-mediation training component for grades 4–12.

The curriculum content has six essential components: 1) communication building, 2) rules for fighting fair, 3) understanding conflict, 4) the role of perceptions, 5) anger management, and 6) effective communication. The curriculum methodology is to model, teach, coach, encourage, and export. (Exporting involves having the more advanced students coach the less experienced; this is also peer mediation).

The approach centers on establishing peaceful norms of behavior for students early, preferably during the 1st year at each of the three school levels (elementary, middle, and high). The second phase of this approach (during each following year) is to reinforce the peaceful norms with interactive programs that emphasize skill development and application.


A mixed methods research design, using parallel quantitative and qualitative methodologies, was employed to evaluate Peace Works. The participant schools were selected by the Miami–Dade school district and were randomly selected as treatment or control schools. Treatment schools received the program training immediately, while control schools were waitlisted.

Ten semirural schools were chosen—eight elementary and two middle schools. More than 10,000 students took part in the study. The demographics of the schools’ populations included Hispanics (from as few as 37 percent to as many as 67 percent), African-Americans (23 percent to 55 percent), whites (2 percent to 16 percent), and other ethnicities (1 percent to 6 percent). Since this area served a large migrant-farmer population, the student mobility rate was high—at 32 percent to 55 percent. The socioeconomic status of the families that the schools served was characterized by high poverty, with the rate of students eligible for free and reduced lunches ranging from 83 percent to 99 percent. “Limited English Proficient “class enrollment ranged from 7 percent to 31 percent.

An experimental pretest and posttest design with the school as the basis of randomization was used for the quantitative analyses. The qualitative methods consisted of interviews, focus groups, and observations. Data was collected with regard to process, outcomes, and context of the school climate. Process was assessed by looking at the use of problem-solving skills and levels of self-responsibility among adult project participants (parents, teachers, and administrators). The outcome variables included discipline referrals, students’ aggressive behavior and development of prosocial skills, and parent–school affiliation. Context was assessed by interviews, school climate surveys, and observations made by parents, students, and staff about the school environment being safe and peaceful. A microlevel evaluation (at the classroom level, as opposed to the school level) was done on two of the treatment elementary schools and on a treatment middle school. For these selected third and sixth grade classrooms, the School Social Behavior Scales (SSBS) were administered to the students to measure prosocial skills and antisocial behavior.


Preliminary results suggest that the curricula improved conflict resolution behavior in students and support the hypothesis that, when implemented properly, conflict resolution projects are useful and benefit the classroom setting.

Analyses of process variables indicated that implementation and evaluation of the program was affected by the extreme mobility of the students, teachers, and administrators; by the constraints in involving parents who were striving to meet the basic needs of their children; and by the large number of children in special programs (e.g., English as a Second Language, special education). However, despite these constraints, results indicated that with appropriate implementation Peace Works can succeed in creating a peaceable school climate.

Regarding the impact of the program on outcome variables, the following results were found:

  • Discipline referrals. Results indicated that discipline referral numbers on incidents from 1 year to the next varied widely, owing largely to mobility rates. Thus, referral results were not a valid indicator of the success of the program.
  • Aggressive behavior. In the elementary microlevel classes, there was a significant reduction in total antisocial behavior and in hostile/irritable behavior for one of the two classrooms. This finding did not extend to the whole school, however, suggesting that implementation was an issue. In the other microlevel elementary classroom, only one variable approached significance in the 1st year; however, for the 2nd year, implementation was attended to and reductions were made in students’ antisocial behavior. Notably, the control schools also experienced a decrease in hostile/irritable behavior, antisocial/aggressive behavior, and total antisocial behavior in the 1st year of the study. The evaluators suggest that this was because the control schools had some exemplary teachers who were more apt to provide appropriate discipline strategies, thus enhancing students’ development.
  • Antisocial behaviors. In the middle school classes, SSBS antisocial results indicated a significant reduction in demanding/disruptive behavior. In the same classroom, there was a reduction that approached significance in antisocial behavior in the 1st year and reached significance in the 2nd year.
  • Prosocial behaviors. Significant increases in prosocial behaviors were noted for one of the elementary treatment schools and for the treatment middle school. The control middle school also had significant improvements.
  • Parent–school affiliation. No results were collected for this outcome variable because of difficulties attributable to problems related to language barriers and time constraints leading to invalidation of the instrument.

The School Climate Survey indicated that parents, students, and teachers all thought that the school climate was relatively safe both at pretest and posttest. However, analyses of the microdata suggested that the targeted classrooms reflected a more peaceable environment after program implementation. Teachers in the microlevel classrooms indicated talking about “I language,” the need for following up with kids, and for establishing trust.

Studies of other modules within Peace Works (e.g., Fighting Fair) have shown similar, if not stronger, positive program effects across all grade levels and on diverse populations.

Risk Factors


  • Anti-social behavior and alienation/Delinquent beliefs/General delinquency involvement/Drug dealing
  • Early onset of aggression and/or violence
  • Lack of guilt and empathy
  • Life stressors
  • Victimization and exposure to violence


  • Family management problems/Poor parental supervision and/or monitoring
  • Family violence
  • Parental use of physical punishment/Harsh and/or erratic discipline practices


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

Protective Factors


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


  • Effective parenting
  • Having a stable family
  • High expectations


  • High expectations of students
  • High quality schools / Clear standards and rules
  • Opportunities for prosocial school involvement
  • Presence and involvement of caring, supportive adults
  • Rewards for prosocial school involvement
  • Strong school motivation / Positive attitude toward school


  • Prosocial opportunities for participation / Availability of neighborhood resources


  • Good relationships with peers




Barnett, Rosemary V., Alison Adler, Janice Easton, and Keri P. Howard. 2001. “An Evaluation of Peace Education Foundation’s Conflict Resolution and Peer Mediation Program.” School Business Affairs July:29–39.

Hanson, Marjorie K. 1994. “A Conflict Resolution/Student Mediation Program: Effects on Student Attitudes and Behaviors.” ERS Spectrum: Journal of School Research and Information 12:9–14.

Lacey, Candace H., and Patrice R. LeBlanc. 2001. “What We Know About Making Peace Work.” Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association. Seattle, Wash., April.

LeBlanc, Patrice R., and Candace H. Lacey. 2000. Evaluation Report on the Allegany Foundation Grant “Making Peace Work in the Miami–Dade County Public Schools.” Miami, Fla.: Peace Education Foundation.

———. 2001. Evaluation Report on the Allegany Foundation Grant “Making Peace Work in the Miami–Dade County Public Schools.” Miami, Fla.: Peace Education Foundation.

Marvel, J.; I. Moreda; and I. Cook. 1993. “Developing Conflict Resolution Skills in Students: A Study of the Fighting Fair Model.” Manuscript submitted to Peace Education Foundation, July.

Powell, Kenneth E., Lois Muir–McClain, and Lakshmi Halasyamani. 1995. “A Review of Selected School-Based Conflict Resolution and Peer Mediation Projects.” Journal of School Health 65:426–31.


Chuck Bryant
Peace Education Foundation
1900 Biscayne Blvd.
Miami, FL 33132–1025
Phone: (305) 576-5075
Fax: (305) 576-3106
Web site:

Technical Assistance Provider

Chuck Bryant
Peace Education Foundation
1900 Biscayne Blvd.
Miami, FL 33132–1025
Phone: (305) 576-5075
Fax: (305) 576-3106
Web site: