Positive Action

Positive Action is based on the intuitive philosophy that we feel good about ourselves when we do positive actions. The Thoughts-Actions-Feelings Circle (TAF) illustrates how this works in life: our thoughts lead to actions and those actions lead to feelings about ourselves which in turn lead to more thoughts. When this cycle is negative, students do not want to learn. When this cycle is positive, students want to learn. The essence of the program is to emphasize those actions that promote a healthy and positive cycle. The Positive Action program works through these concepts in a systematic way. Positive Action is a complete curriculum from Pre-K through high school that provides academic, physical, social, and emotional guidance in a safe, supportive environment, as well as promoting partnerships between school, home, and community.

This program is approved for WV Expanded School Mental Health.

Last reviewed: 2023

Intended Outcomes:

  • Reduce behaviors that require disciplinary actions
  • Reduce bullying behaviors and violence
  • Reduce likelihood of being suspended or dropping out of school
  • Reduce substance use (tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs)
  • Reduce anxiety and depression
  • Reduce likelihood to solve problems aggressively
  • Reduce likelihood to cause damage to school property
  • Improve self-control
  • Improve social problem solving
  • Improve academics (math, reading, science)

Continuum of Care:
Universal Prevention

Topic Areas:
Anxiety, Behavioral Health/Mental Health, Depression, Disruptive Behaviors, Intellectual Disabilities, Physical Health, Substance Use, Suicide

Childhood (4-12), Teen/Adolescent (13-18)

Geographic Locations:
Rural, Urban

Delivery Settings:

Cultural Considerations:
A balanced amount of the research involved diverse populations

This program is for children and adolescents in Pre-K through 12th grade

Classroom teachers or community volunteers facilitate this program.


Is Training Required?
Yes, see developer info

Who can provide the required training?
Please see the following link for more information on training: https://www.positiveaction.net/program-training

Program Costs (materials, training, etc.):
Yes, refer to program website

Program/Practice Website:

Relevant Published, Peer-Reviewed Research:

Bavarian, N., Lewis, K. M., DuBois, D. L., Acock, A., Vuchinich, S., Silverthorn, N., Snyder, F. J., Day, J., Ji, P., & Flay, B. R. (2013). Using social-emotional and character development to improve academic outcomes: A matched-pair, cluster-randomized controlled trial in low-income, Urban Schools. Journal of School Health, 83(11), 771–779. https://doi.org/10.1111/josh.12093

Bavarian, N., Lewis, K. M., Acock, A., DuBois, D. L., Yan, Z., Vuchinich, S., Silverthorn, N., Day, J., & Flay, B. R. (2016). Effects of a school-based social–emotional and character development program on Health Behaviors: A matched-pair, cluster-randomized controlled trial. The Journal of Primary Prevention, 37(1), 87–105. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10935-016-0417-8

Beets, M. W., Flay, B. R., Vuchinich, S., Snyder, F. J., Acock, A., Li, K.-K., Burns, K., Washburn, I. J., & Durlak, J. (2009). Use of a social and character development program to prevent substance use, violent behaviors, and sexual activity among elementary-school students in Hawaii. American Journal of Public Health, 99(8), 1438–1445. https://doi.org/10.2105/ajph.2008.142919

Lewis, K. M., DuBois, D. L., Bavarian, N., Acock, A., Silverthorn, N., Day, J., Ji, P., Vuchinich, S., & Flay, B. R. (2013). Effects of positive action on the Emotional Health of urban youth: A cluster-randomized trial. Journal of Adolescent Health, 53(6), 706–711. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2013.06.012

Lewis, K. M., Bavarian, N., Snyder, F. J., Acock, A., Day, J., DuBois, D. L., Schure, M. B., Silverthorn, N., Vuchinich, S., & Flay, B. R. (2012). Direct and Mediated Effects of a Social-Emotional and Character Development Program on Adolescent Substance Use. The International Journal of Emotional Education, 4. https://doi.org/https://d1fbsi2gqyrpr4.cloudfront.net/main/v0.0.32/assets/pdf-files/articles/eme2012.pdf

Lewis, K., Schure, M., Bavarian, N., DuBois, D. L., Day, J., Ji, P., Silverthorn, N., Acock, A., Vuchinich, S., & Flay, B. R. (2013). Problem Behavior and Urban, Low-Income Youth: A Randomized Controlled Trial of Positive Action in Chicago. The American Journal of Preventative Medicine, 44(6). https://doi.org/https://d1fbsi2gqyrpr4.cloudfront.net/main/v0.0.32/assets/pdf-files/articles/pm2013.pdf

Schmitt, S. A., Flay, B. R., & Lewis, K. (2014). A pilot evaluation of thepositive actionprekindergarten lessons. Early Child Development and Care, 184(12), 1978–1991. https://doi.org/10.1080/03004430.2014.903942

Snyder, F., Flay, B., Vuchinich, S., Acock, A., Washburn, I., Beets, M., & Li, K.-K. (2009). Impact of a social-emotional and character development program on school-level indicators of academic achievement, absenteeism, and disciplinary outcomes: A matched-pair, cluster-randomized, controlled trial. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 3(1), 26–55. https://doi.org/10.1080/19345740903353436

Snyder, F. J., Vuchinich, S., Acock, A., Washburn, I. J., & Flay, B. R. (2011). Improving elementary school quality through the use of a social-emotional and character development program: A matched-pair, cluster-randomized, controlled trial in hawai'i. Journal of School Health, 82(1), 11–20. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1746-1561.2011.00662.x

Snyder, F. J., Acock, A. C., Vuchinich, S., Beets, M. W., Washburn, I. J., & Flay, B. R. (2013). Preventing negative behaviors among elementary-school students through enhancing students' social-emotional and character development. American Journal of Health Promotion, 28(1), 50–58. https://doi.org/10.4278/ajhp.120419-quan-207.2

Washburn, I. J., Acock, A., Vuchinich, S., Snyder, F., Li, K.-K., Ji, P., Day, J., DuBois, D., & Flay, B. R. (2011). Effects of a social-emotional and character development program on the trajectory of behaviors associated with social-emotional and character development: Findings from three randomized trials. Prevention Science, 12(3), 314–323. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11121-011-0230-9

Additional Sources:


Supported By Research

WV Rating:
Supported by Research
»WV Ratings Info

Rationale for Rating:

Multiple Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs) have been conducted on Positive Action (PA). The majority of research showed generally positive outcomes for PA. Additional research focused on populations similar to those in West Virginia would be beneficial.

Contraindications or Concerns:
None identified

Other Registries/Ratings

The California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare:
Promising Research Evidence

Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development:

Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness:

Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Model Programs Guide:
Not On Registry

Washington State Institute for Public Policy:
Found on the registry. See link for more information.

Washington State Institute for Public Policy Registry Link: