CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University researcher Brian Flay has received a grant for $3 million over four years from the Institute for Education Science of the U.S. Department of Education to continue his evaluation of the Positive Action program, a character education program.

A prior grant tested the program with children in the third through fifth grades, and the new grant will allow Flay to continue the study through middle school. Flay and colleagues at the University of Illinois are conducting the new study in inner-city schools in Chicago.

The Positive Action program was developed by Flay’s wife, Carol Gerber Allred. For 25 years, the program has been teaching positive thoughts, feelings and actions for the physical, intellectual, social and emotional development of students. Allred said Positive Action teaches children a full range of positive behaviors to help students become effective achievers.

Flay, a professor of public health at OSU, evaluated the academic progress and behavior in elementary schools using the program, compared to similar schools not using it. His findings were that Positive Action had a verifiable improvement in standardized test scores for reading, writing and math, as well as reductions in violence, disciplinary referrals, absenteeism, suspensions, retentions and drug, alcohol and tobacco use.

In part because of Flay’s studies, the Positive Action program received top marks by the U.S. Department of Education What Works Clearinghouse (WWC). The report evaluated the effectiveness of 41 character education programs across the country and Positive Action received the highest marks.

Positive Action has offices in Corvallis, Ore. and Twin Falls, Idaho.

Flay said the new grant will help him to research the effectiveness of Positive Action in older students to see if the results hold.

Flay is also the director of the youth core for the new Hallie Ford Center for Healthy Children and Families at OSU. The Hallie Ford Center, which was made possible by a gift of $8 million gift by philanthropist Hallie Ford before she died, is part of OSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.


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Brian Flay,