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Background: School safety and quality affect student learning and success. This study examined the effects of a comprehensive elementary school-wide social-emotional and character education program, Positive Action, on teacher, parent, and student perceptions of school safety and quality utilizing a matched-pair, cluster-randomized, controlled design. The Positive Action Hawai'i trial included 20 racially/ethnically diverse schools and was conducted from 2002-2003 through 2005-2006. Methods: School-level archival data, collected by the Hawai'i Department of Education, were used to examine program effects at 1-year post-trial. Teacher, parent, and student data were analyzed to examine indicators of school quality such as student safety and well-being, involvement, and satisfaction, as well as overall school quality. Matched-paired "t"-tests were used for the primary analysis, and sensitivity analyses included permutation tests and random-intercept growth curve models. Results: Analyses comparing change from baseline to 1-year post-trial revealed that intervention schools demonstrated significantly improved school quality compared to control schools, with 21%, 13%, and 16% better overall school quality scores as reported by teachers, parents, and students, respectively. Teacher, parent, and student reports on individual school-quality indicators showed improvement in student safety and well-being, involvement, satisfaction, quality student support, focused and sustained action, standards-based learning, professionalism and system capacity, and coordinated team work. Teacher reports also showed an improvement in the responsiveness of the system. Conclusions: School quality was substantially improved, providing evidence that a school-wide social-emotional and character education program can enhance school quality and facilitate whole-school change. (Contains 4 tables and 1 figure.)
Background: School-based social-emotional and character development (SECD) programs can influence not only SECD but also academic-related outcomes. This study evaluated the impact of one SECD program, Positive Action (PA), on educational outcomes among low-income, urban youth. Methods: The longitudinal study used a matched-pair, cluster-randomized controlled design. Student-reported disaffection with learning and academic grades, and teacher ratings of academic ability and motivation were assessed for a cohort followed from grades 3 to 8. Aggregate school records were used to assess standardized test performance (for entire school, cohort, and demographic subgroups) and absenteeism (entire school). Multilevel growth-curve analyses tested program effects. Results: PA significantly improved growth in academic motivation and mitigated disaffection with learning. There was a positive impact of PA on absenteeism and marginally significant impact on math performance of all students. There were favorable program effects on reading for African American boys and cohort students transitioning between grades 7 and 8, and on math for girls and low-income students. Conclusions: A school-based SECD program was found to influence academic outcomes among students living in low-income, urban communities. Future research should examine mechanisms by which changes in SECD influence changes in academic outcomes.