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Attendance grades studied


Positive Action – Attendance

Essa Rating
No. Studies
No. Students
Average Effect Size

Program Description

Positive Action is a whole-school reform strategy designed to improve social-emotional, attendance, and achievement outcomes by building school climate, self-control, goal-setting, problem-solving, persistence, and other skills. Students learn these skills through structured discussions and activities, games, and role plays. Teachers receive detailed manuals and materials to support 140 15-20 minute lessons per year )(4 days per week). Parents also receive handbooks that parallel the school lessons.

Program Outcomes

Two studies found lower rates of absenteeism in Positive Action schools than in control schools. Snyder et al. (2010), a four-year longitudinal randomized evaluation, compared 10 schools in Hawaii using the program to 10 similar schools that did not receive the program. Positive Action schools had significantly lower absenteeism (ES=+0.19), as well as positive outcomes compared to controls in math and reading. Bavarian et al. (2013) conducted a 6-year randomized study in Chicago that also found a significant effect of Positive Action on reducing absenteeism (ES=+0.25). Both studies showed significant impacts on absenteeism at the school level, with the weighted average effect sizes of +0.20. Positive Action qualified for the ESSA “Strong” category.

Staffing Requirements

No additional staff required

Professional Development/Training

Administrators, faculty and support staff receive at least 3 to 5 hours orientation training in the first year and 2-4 hour sessions for each successive year. Technical support is available with a program consultant as needed. Mid-year, End-of-Year trainings and  Train-the-Trainers options are also available.


None required