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Schools and Districts: Description and Links

Brief Overview

In the past, school-wide discipline has focused mainly on reacting to specific student misbehavior by implementing punishment-based strategies including reprimands, loss of privileges, office referrals, suspensions, and expulsions. Research has shown that the implementation of punishment, especially when it is used inconsistently and in the absence of other positive strategies, is ineffective and can lead to increases in problem behaviors such as vandalism. School-wide positive behavior support provides an alternative approach to punishment that focuses on the prevention of problem behavior by teaching and reinforcing student social skills.

Features of school-wide positive behavior support (SWPBS) include:

  • Implementation efforts addressing both social and academic behavior,
  • An emphasis on the prevention of problem behavior,
  • A three-tiered continuum of behavior support practices that increase in intensity based on student needs,
  • Team-based problem-solving across the school building, and
  • Use of data for decision-making.

In schools, primary prevention strategies are implemented across school settings and for all students within the building. The goal is to create a positive social culture in which pro-social behaviors are explicitly taught and reinforced, and all adults respond to the occurrence of problem behavior in a consistent manner. Secondary prevention is intended to support students who have learning and/or life histories that put them at risk of engaging in more serious problem behavior. Strategies for secondary prevention address a child's needs before more intensive individualized supports are necessary. A smaller number of students require more individualized and intensive plans than primary and secondary prevention practices provide. At the tertiary prevention level, individualized and comprehensive plans address the unique needs of children who engage in serious problem behaviors.

Planning teams, an essential part of the success of SWPBS efforts, consist of representatives from all areas of the school and community (e.g., general education, special education, administration, special services, family members, mental health, etc.). The role of the planning team is to bring information to the entire faculty that, over time, will become part of an action plan for implementing SWPBS. The action plan is developed based upon a self-assessment of the school's strengths and needs. Data gathered during a self-assessment often include faculty, student, and community feedback, office referral data, suspension and expulsion data, direct observation data of students, along with measures of SWPBS implementation, academic outcomes, school safety, and climate measures. These data help schools make effective decisions and build on existing school strengths. SWPBS is a multi-year commitment that becomes a natural part of the school improvement process.

District-wide Planning in School-wide Positive Behavior Support

District-level support is an important factor necessary for ensuring sustainable and durable SWPBS. A district-level planning process helps establish a common vision, language, and experience across schools. SWPBS implementation efforts are organized in ways that allow districts and states to efficiently use resource and expand technical assistance efforts across a larger number of schools. Although the membership of district leadership teams vary, examples of district-wide team members include:

  • District Administration
  • School Administration
  • District PBS Trainers
  • Instruction and Curriculum
  • Safe and Drug Free Schools
  • Special Education
  • School Psychology and Counseling
  • Title or Other Related Initiatives
  • Student Health
  • Parents and Family Members
  • Students
  • School-wide Discipline
  • Dropout Prevention
  • Character Education
  • Alternative Program Personnel
  • Data or Information Management
  • Multiculturalism and Affirmative Action
  • Mental Health Representation
  • Children and Family Services Representation
  • Business and Community Organization leaders
  • University or College Professionals

The figure below shows the tasks and activities involved in a leadership team process at both the district and state level.

The district level planning team conducts a self-assessment that will result in an action-plan for implementation of SWPBS across buildings starting with a smaller number of local demonstration schools. The leadership team establishes training capacity across the district so that, over time, staff development systems have the internal capacity to guide SWPBS. The training system is adapted as more schools within the district become interested in implementing SWPBS.

Coaches are recruited in each school to assist in facilitating the school planning processes. These coaches create a communication link between the district-level planning team and each school implementing SWPBS. The role of the coach is to facilitate school team meetings, ensure data are summarized, support team activities, and meet monthly with a district SWPBS coordinator.

The role of the district coordinator is to facilitate district leadership team meetings, support each of the schools, ensure data are summarized, and coordinate training efforts within the district. The district team works together to establish measurable outcomes and to identify methods for evaluating progress toward these measurable outcomes. The evaluation data collected are used by the district team to problem-solve, make modifications to training and technical assistance efforts, and improve SWPBS outcomes. To be successful, SWPBS implementation must have (a) adequate and sustained funding support; (b) regular, wide, and meaningful visibility; and (c) relevant and effective political support.

For School Administrators

What Every Administrator Should Know About School-wide Positive Behavior Supports | http://www.mslbd.org/Admin_Conference/Lewis%2010-5-06.pdf | A brief summary of school-wide positive behavior support and what administrators should know about the implementation process before getting started.

Is School-wide Positive Behavior Support an Evidence-based Practice? | http://www.apbs.org/files/101007evidencebase4pbs.pdf | This document provides information about the research supporting school-wide positive behavior support.

For School Personnel

How To Get PBS Into Your School | http://www.pbis.org/Common/Cms/Files/Newsletter/Volume4%20Issue1.pdf | Helpful hints for getting started implementing school-wide positive behavior support.

Impact: Feature Issue on Fostering Success in School and Beyond for Students with Emotional/Behavioral Disorders | http://ici.umn.edu/products/impact/182/default.html

Horner, R., Sugai, G., & Vincent, C. (2008). School-wide Positive Behavior Support: Investing in Student Success | http://ici.umn.edu/products/impact/182/over2.html | An excellent introduction to school-wide positive behavior support.

Tertiary Prevention: PBS Practices From the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center

PBS Practices are brief fact sheets that describe effective practices in Positive Behavior Support. Each Practice includes a rationale, overview, examples, issues and needs, and frequently-asked questions on a designated topic. The purpose of the series on PBS Practices is to provide information about important elements of positive behavior support. PBS Practices are not specific recommendations for implementation, and they should always be considered within the larger context of planning, assessment and comprehensive support.

  • Methods of Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) PDF
  • Collaborative Teaming in PBS PDF
  • Proactive Support Strategies PDF
  • Positive Consequence Strategies PDF
  • Teaching Replacement Skills PDF
  • Systems Change in Positive Behavior Support PDF
  • Competing Behavior Model PDF
  • Group Action Planning and PBS PDF
  • Addressing Cultural and Economic Diversity in PBS PDF

Examples of PBS Plans at the Tertiary Prevention Level

Alex: http://www.kipbs.org/new_kipbs/basicInfo/AlexStory.html

Selena: http://www.kipbs.org/new_kipbs/basicInfo/SelenaStory.html

Sabrina: http://www.kipbs.org/new_kipbs/basicInfo/SabrinaStory.html

Brian: http://www.kipbs.org/new_kipbs/familyInfo/TBI/Brian.html

Mark & Katie: http://www.kipbs.org/new_kipbs/familyInfo/TBI/Mark_Katie.html

Aaron’s Story: http://www.apbs.org/Aaron.htm

Hannah’s PBS plan: http://www.apbs.org/Hannah.aspx

Britney’s PBS plan: http://www.apbs.org/BritneyStory.htm

Research-based Case Study Summaries

The following vignettes come from peer-reviewed research articles or chapters found in the literature related to providing behavior interventions for individuals with challenging behavior. These summaries are intended to provide ideas for validated intervention strategies that are implemented in the field. While these vignettes are helpful in learning more about positive behavior support and behavior intervention strategies, they are only intended to be examples. All PBS plans should start with person-centered planning and functional behavioral assessment. The functional behavioral assessment is used to identify interventions that are based on the function maintaining the behavior and that are individualized for the person receiving support. Please gather valuable information from these vignettes, while being cautious not to over-generalize to all children who engage in challenging behavior.

Intervention Case Study: Primary Prevention

Taylor-Greene, S., Brown, D., Nelson, L., Longton, J., Gassman, T., Cohen, J., Swartz, J., Horner, R.H., Sugai, G., & Hall, S. (1997). School-wide behavioral support: Starting the year off right. Journal of Behavioral Education, 7, 99-112.

Intervention Case Study: Primary Prevention

Todd, A., Haugen, L., Anderson, K., & Spriggs, M. (2002). Teaching recess: Low cost efforts producing effective results. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 4, 46-53.

Intervention Case Study: Tertiary Prevention

Horner, R.H., Albin, R.W., Sprague, J.R., & Todd, A.W. (2000). Positive behavior support. In M. E. Snell & F. Brown (Eds.), Instruction of students with severe disabilities (5th ed.) (pp. 207-243). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill.

Intervention Case Study: Tertiary Prevention

Todd, A. W., Horner, R. H., & Sugai, G. (1999). Self-monitoring and self-recruited praise: Effects on problem behavior, academic engagement, and work completion in a typical classroom. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 1(2), 66-76.

Intervention Case Study

Dunlap, G. and Fox, Lise (1999). A demonstration of behavioral support for young children with autism. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 1, 77-87.

Intervention Case Study

McGee, G. & Daly, T. (1999). Prevention of problem behavior in preschool children. In A.C. Repp and R.H. Horner (Eds.), Functional analysis of problem behavior: From effective assessment to effective support (pp. 171-195). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Intervention Case Study

Todd, A., Horner, R., Vanater, S., & Schneider, C. (1997). Working together to make change: An example of positive behavioral support for a student with traumatic brain injury. Education and Treatment of Children, 20, 425-440.

Additional Case-study Summaries from Research:

PBS Glossary: http://apbs.org/new_apbs/files/glossary.pdf

SWPBS References: http://apbs.org/new_apbs/schools-and-districts-references.html

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