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Getting Started with Positive Behavior Support in Schools for District or State/Provincial Administrators

Here are the steps to explore whether school-wide positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS) is a good match for your schools and staff, and if so, how to move forward:

1. Find Out

2. Build Support

  • Examine your current district or state discipline data. Do the data show a need for a coordinated effort? Assess both levels of exclusionary discipline like office discipline referrals or suspensions and disparities in discipline by race/ethnicity or special education status.
  • Talk with your staff about school-wide PBIS and its benefits. Highlight the effects on school climate and student achievement. Determine whether they would be interested in supporting an initiative.
  • Talk with your parent-teacher organization and students, families, and community members. Would they be interested in partnering in an initiative?
  • Identify durable funding sources. Common sources include Title IV block grants and State Personnel Development Grants (SPDGs) from the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP).

3. Start Small but Think About the Big Picture

  • Create a team. The first step is to assemble a district or state team to support implementation in schools. The team should include you, general and special education representatives, specialists, and family and community representation.
  • Build a regular meeting schedule, with a clear agenda and meeting norms. It should report to the district or state superintendent.
  • Use the PBIS Implementation Blueprint Self-Assessment, a fidelity of implementation measure (such as the TFI, TIC, or SAS) to assess what’s already in place and next steps for implementation.
  • Although mandating PBIS implementation district or state-wide may seem tempting, it is much more effective to start with a set of pilot schools or a pilot district to become model implementers.

4. Take Next Steps

  • Implement district or state policy changes that reduce the use of exclusionary discipline and support positive school practices. See the PBIS policy guide for suggested elements.
  • Continue to assess implementation, with the PBIS Implementers Blueprint Self-Assessment, every 2 to 3 months, to see progress and find next steps.
  • Tell other administrators. Share your journey with them. If you’re doing something worthwhile, they will want to know.
  • Find resources, such as "How to Get Positive Behavior Support in Your School" to guide you.