Governor Steve Bullock today announced Montana received $2.1 million in federal grant dollars to support the PAX Good Behavior Game in schools across the state.
“In confronting youth suicide, substance abuse and peer pressure, we need to do everything we can to help our kids become more resilient,” Governor Bullock said. “The Good Behavior Game is evidence-based and has shown great promise in Montana. This is an excellent opportunity to provide a valuable tool to even more of our students and teachers in classrooms.”
Sheila Hogan, director of the Department of Public Health and Human Services, said the Good Behavior Game provides teachers with research-based strategies focused on creating a classroom climate that facilitates productivity, teamwork, and encourages development of resiliency that will continue over the course of a student’s lifetime.
With additional funding, more schools and communities will be able to utilize the program.
“We anticipate this funding will provide the opportunity for at least 35 more schools across the state to implement this program in their classrooms,” Director Hogan said.
Through HB 118 funding from the 2017 Legislature and various other funding sources, hundreds of teachers and thousands of students in 47 Montana schools have already been trained on the Good Behavior Game over the past several years. The program is designed for K-5 classrooms.
Schools currently using the program are in Absarokee, Belgrade, Billings, Bozeman, Browning, Canyon Creek, Clancy, Cut Bank, Dillon, East Helena, Fromberg, Gardiner, Heart Butte, Helena, Joliet, Lakeside, Livingston, Manhattan, Missoula, Shepherd, Twin Bridges, Wibaux, and Wilsall. Several school districts offer the program in multiple schools.
Missoula County Public Schools implemented the Good Behavior Game in 2018 and have experienced noticeable improvements.
“The teachers I work with who are utilizing this program share how it has increased student self-regulation and improved classroom culture,” said Carol Ewen, School Wellness Coordinator for Missoula County Public Schools. “This funding is great news for Montana.”
The deadline to apply for this new funding is June 28, 2019. Interested public or private schools or community coalitions can submit a grant proposal online here: http://vendorresources.mt.gov/
Funds will be used for training school personnel delivered by the PAXIS Institute, the organization that developed the program. PAXIS will also offer community strategic planning and development training to educate communities about the program and assist with sustainability plans. School personnel will receive in-person training as well as additional resources including stipends for classroom supplies and ongoing personal support, mentoring, and coaching. Grant funding will also pay for continued program evaluation performed by the University of Montana.
The Center for Children, Families, and Workforce Development (Center) at the University of Montana is evaluating schools already using the program with suicide prevention funding allocated during the 2017 legislative session. The Center will continue follow-up research to determine effectiveness of the program as more schools are funded. Part of the evaluation plan is collecting student behavioral data as well as pre-and post-test surveys where teachers measure behavioral, skill, and attitude gains from the beginning of the school year to the end.
The Center’s Ryan Tolleson Knee, PhD, said the data indicates PAX is a positive tool for managing children’s classroom behavior in grades K-5.
“It will be critical to follow these children over time to determine if Montana’s PAX program is consistent with national studies and participants are able to acquire the skills needed to prevent problems associated with mental illness, substance abuse, and suicidal thinking,” Tolleson Knee said.