Positive Action is a whole-school reform strategy designed to improve social-emotional 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 3 to 4 hours of training in the first year, and then 1-2 hour booster sessions thereafter. They receive detailed manuals and materials to support 140 15-20 minute lessons per year. Parents also receive manuals that parallel the school lessons.
A four-year longitudinal randomized evaluation of Positive Action compared 10 schools in Hawaii using the program to 10 similar schools that did not receive the program. Hawaii state tests found positive outcomes compared to controls in math and reading. In reading, the effect size was +0.27, a statistically significant difference that qualifies Positive Action for the ESSA “Strong” category. A second 6-year randomized study in Chicago found a non-significant effect size of +0.10, and the weighted average was +0.21.