School-based and Community-wide Program Descriptions

This is a list of evidence-based programs for schools and communities. These programs are all designed to help children and youth succeed by strengthening youths’ resilience and positive skills, and through creating a nurturing environment in the school and/or community that supports positive behavior. In general, the programs aim to improve youths’ success in school and with friends, and to reduce problematic behaviors such as aggression, defiance, substance use, and delinquency. The list of programs is divided into programs that build a positive school climate, substance abuse prevention curricula in schools, and community-wide prevention approaches.

Programs to build a positive school climate

Positive Behavior Support (PBS) helps school staff build a system of supports for positive behaviors. Through PBS, school staff define and teach clear rules, reinforce students for following the rules, provide clear and consistent consequences for those who do not, and provide additional interventions to support the positive behavior of students with behavioral problems. PBS dramatically reduces discipline problems and increases students’ sense of safety and wellbeing. Approximately 4,300 schools nationwide (470 in Oregon) currently use PBS. In a 2001 evaluation of the program (Metzler, Biglan, Rusby, & Sprague, 2001), the authors found effects on increased positive reinforcement for appropriate social behavior and decreased aggressive social behavior among students. Discipline referrals significantly decreased for seventh-grade students; there was less harassment among males. Student perception of school safety also improved. Information from the Center for Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports is available at

Metzler, C.W., Biglan, A., Rusby, J.C., & Sprague, J.R. (2001). Evaluation of a comprehensive behavior management program to improve school-wide positive behavior support. Education and Treatment of Children, 24, 448-479.

The Good Behavior Game is a classroom behavior management strategy designed to reduce aggressive, disruptive classroom behavior in early elementary school. Teams of children are positively reinforced for appropriate behavior in this structured classroom game. Teachers have utilized this program with general populations of early elementary school children across the United States for over 20 years. A recent study found positive effects, including reduced criminality, smoking, and substance abuse, among 19 – 21 year olds who had participated in the Good Behavior Game while in first and second grades, compared to a randomized control group (Kellam et al., 2008). There is no single program website for the Good Behavior Game, but information and resources about the Game can be found at and at

Kellam, S.G., Brown, C.H., Poduska, J.M., Ialongo, N.S., Wang, W., Toyinbo, P. et al. (2008). Effects of a universal classroom behavior management program in first and second grades on young adult behavioral, psychiatric, and social outcomes. Drug & Alcohol Dependence, 95(1), S5-S28.

Positive Action (PA) is an evidence-based program for elementary, middle and high schools and Kindergarten through high school students to improve classroom behavior management, school climate and student academic achievement, behavior, and character. The curriculum/program educates teachers, students, and parents about recognizing positive behaviors and how engaging in positive behaviors leads to feeling good about oneself and leads to further positive behavior. Randomized trials in Hawaii and Chicago schools found impressive reductions in negative behaviors and absenteeism, and improvements in positive behaviors and academic achievement. A study on the long-term effects of the PA program in elementary schools found improved student behavior, school involvement, and academic achievement among schools that received PA, compared to schools that did not receive the program. PA is one of only a few programs that show effects on both academics and behavior. (see The program website is

Beets, M. W., Flay, B. R., Vuchinich, S., Acock, A.C., Li, K-K. & Allred, C. (2008) School climate and teachers’ beliefs and attitudes associated with implementation of the Positive Action program:  A Diffusion of Innovations Model. Prevention Science, 9, 264-275.

Flay, B.R. & Allred, C.G. (2003). Long-term effects of the Positive Action program. American Journal of Health Behavior, 27, S6-s21

Snyder, F., Vuchinich, S., Acock, A. C., Beets, M. W., Kin-Kit, L., Burns, K., Washburn, I., & Flay, B.R. (in press - Jan 2010). Impact of a social-emotional and character education 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.

Substance abuse prevention curricula

Life Skills Training (LST) is an evidence-based substance abuse curriculum for use in schools that helps to reduce the risks of alcohol, tobacco, and drug use and violence by targeting the factors that often bring about initiation into substance use or violent behavior. LST is designed to give both early and older adolescents the confidence and skills needed to handle challenging situations that can lead to involvement in high-risk behavior. The program promotes healthy alternatives to high-risk behavior by: teaching skills needed to resist negative peer pressure and to understand the consequences of substance use; helping students gain self-confidence; and helping them cope effectively with anxiety. In a recent study, LST showed significant, positive differences at 12th grade on initiation of substance use, as well as in changes in substance use over time when compared with a control group (Spoth, Randall, Trudeau, Shin, & Redmond, 2008). For more information, visit the LST website at

Spoth, R. L., Randall, G., Trudeau, L., Shin, C., Redmond, C. (2008). Substance use outcomes 5-1/2 years past baseline for partnership-based, family school preventive interventions. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 96, 57-68.

Aban Aya is Ghanaian for “protection and self-determination.” The Aban Aya Youth Project (AAYP) is a program designed to reduce levels of risky behavior among African-American children in fifth through eighth grades. A scientific study of the program compared the Aban Aya school-based curriculum, the curriculum plus a larger-scope school and community intervention, and a health-oriented intervention (control). Boys in the school/community intervention showed significant positive impacts on self-reported violence, provoking behavior, school delinquency, substance use, sexual activity, and condom use. Similar but smaller impacts were found for boys in the curriculum-only schools. More comprehensive information about Aban Aya is on the program website:

Flay, B. R., Graumlich, S, Segawa, E., Burns, J. L., Holliday, M. Y. (2004). Effects of 2 prevention programs on high-risk behaviors among African American Youth. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 158(4), 377-384.

Project Toward No Tobacco Use (TNT) is a school-based prevention curriculum designed to reduce the proportion of youth who smoke, drink alcohol, or use illicit drugs. In the TNT program, students learn how to deal with peer pressure, gain an understanding and awareness of social influence misperceptions (e.g., from peers, advertisements, movies), and learn about the physical consequences of smoking. The program focuses on seventh- and eighth-grade students, starting with a 10-day program in the seventh grade and followed by two booster programs the following year. In a follow-up study, Dent et al. (1995) found the program reduced the proportion of youth who smoke, drank alcohol, or used illicit drugs two years after the program ended. Full information about the program can be found on the program website:

Dent, C.W., Sussman, S., Stacy, A.W., Craig, S., Burton, D., & Flay, B.R. (1995). Two-year behavior outcomes of Project Towards No Tobacco Use. Journal of Clinical and Consulting Psychology, 63, 676-677.

Community-wide prevention approaches

Project Project STAR (Students Taught Awareness and Resistance), also known as the Midwestern Prevention Project, utilizes a comprehensive community-wide approach to help reduce substance use among sixth- and seventh-grade students. The program utilizes community-wide strategies such as mass media, the school, parent education and organization, community organization and training, and local policy change regarding “gateway” drugs. One component is introduced per year, except for the mass media component, which continues throughout the intervention. In school, students practice active social learning techniques and receive homework assignments to share with their parents. Program evaluations have found reductions of up to 40% in daily smoking and marijuana use, with smaller reductions in alcohol use through grade 12. Effects on daily smoking, heavy marijuana use, and some hard drug use have been found through age 23 as well as improved parent-child communications about drug use (Pentz, Mihalic, & Grotpeter, 1998). For program information, see

Pentz, M.A., Mihalic, S.F., & Grotpeter, J.K. (1998). The Midwestern Prevention Project: Blueprints for Violence Prevention, Book One. Blueprints for Violence Prevention Series (D.S. Elliott, Series Editor). Boulder, CO: Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence, Institute of Behavioral Science, University of Colorado.