My experience in education has made me a true believer in the good things that can come from a fully implemented Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) practice. I worked with students who went from ditching daily to being eligible for graduation because they found a person on campus who saw their abilities and recognized them for their efforts until they grew toward success. When looking for a solution to behavior problems and disproportionality on campus, PBIS is typically at the top of the search list. Many educators hesitate to invest in PBIS, though, because they have heard it is just “points and parties.” But a PBIS system, when implemented with fidelity, is so much more than acknowledgments and celebrations. And it is not a replacement for campus discipline procedures! Rather, PBIS is the behavior and attendance branch of a Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS). Just like MTSS, PBIS is a three-tiered, evidence-based framework that enables the success of all students while improving social-emotional competence, academic success, and overall school climate. This blog will share the why and the how behind creating a campus-based PBIS practice with integrity.
We know that students need support now more than ever as we work to build back skills and buy-in from students and teachers. Research shows a huge connection between behavior and student outcomes, like engagement and achievement. Even though students with extreme problem behavior represent only 20% of school enrollment, they account for more than 50% of all behavioral incidents. Creating a positive school climate where students are intentionally supported and recognized for their positive behaviors decreases the need for punitive discipline practices like suspension and expulsion. Students are five times more likely to drop out, six times more likely to repeat a grade, and three times more likely to have contact with the juvenile justice system if suspended just once. (McIntosh et al., 2021).
When PBIS systems, data, and practices are in place, experimental research often shows (McIntosh et al., 2021; Waasdorp et al., 2012):
The following indicators are based on the Benchmarks of Quality and the features built into the School-Wide PBIS Tiered Fidelity Inventory. These free resources are available from www.PBIS.org to help you get started!
As a consultant working with schools across the country, often the first thing we discuss is forming a great team to lead the work. We want to include enough members to have a representative subset of the school. An effective team includes members with access to the right data, insight into student patterns, and authority to implement change in their context. For example, an administrator can add items to their walkthroughs to collect data on positive interactions or the use of the acknowledgment tool. A school counselor or social worker can share their expertise in behavior patterns and functions of behavior. A behavior clerk, attendance clerk, or student intervention team coordinator can access data and share knowledge of ongoing patterns on campus. The team should meet regularly and have a written action plan.
Many teams forget to include parents and students when appropriate. A staff member who also has a child in the school can be easily included to provide a parent’s perspective. Student representation can help inform the PBIS Team and help with buy-in from the student body. Some of the best PBIS initiatives are led by students!
Staff needs to be involved in the process to create shared ownership of the positive behavior plan. This can help to create powerful and lasting change:
Being proactive in discipline efforts can mean the difference between a student graduating or dropping out of high school. All stakeholders need a set of clearly written procedures for handling major or minor discipline and training in de-escalating behavior incidents. This typically looks like a flow chart that details the intervention options when misbehavior is displayed. Once a site has a flowchart in place that is regularly used, data can more reliably be tracked, shared, and assessed for patterns.
Graphed visuals in a user-friendly interface are best for this practice. Finding a platform that helps with this work is a game-changer. The Branching Minds platform allows PBIS teams to see behavioral data with ease in order to make timely, relevant decisions.
Even with the best intentions, it is difficult for most people to provide a higher level of attention to positive behavior than to negative behavior. Having a system with points, rewards, or parties helps remind the staff to look for good behavior and reinforce it.
A proper acknowledgment system consists of the following:
The following indicators of effective Tier 1 implementation will set your campus up for success with Tier 2 and Tier 3 behavior interventions. If you answer "no" to any of these questions, it is suggested that you hone your Tier 1 practice to support all of your students better, but especially those with challenging behavior. Students struggling with behavior need clear expectations, regular re-teaching, and immediate, frequent feedback, especially when they are exhibiting positive behavior! Your targeted and intensive behavior supports will be far more effective if Tier 1 practices are solid.
For more information, see The Branching Minds Tier 2 Behavior Intervention Guide
|FREE RESOURCE:||Positive Behavior Referral Template|
A PBIS system, when implemented with fidelity, is much more than acknowledgments and celebrations. PBIS is a research and evidence-based practice that allows a campus to implement the behavior and attendance branch of MTSS, including school-wide positive behavior practices and interventions for students who need more support with challenging behavior. PBIS enables the success of all students while improving social-emotional competence, academic success, and overall school climate. It improves the school-wide climate and culture for all stakeholders, including staff. The best measure of successful PBIS implementation isn't a big party or a well-stocked store of treats and gadgets. Instead, the best measure of PBIS implementation is that all stakeholders, including students, staff, and parents, report that behavior expectations are clear, behavior needs are supported, and the school is a welcoming, positive place to learn.
The Branching Minds platform allows PBIS teams to see behavioral data with ease in order to make timely, relevant decisions. The Branching Minds platform shows the integration of behavior in the MTSS framework, better supporting the whole child. Request a demo today!
Related resources you may find helpful:
|ON-DEMAND WEBINAR: Using Proactive and Preventive Behavioral Strategies in MTSS|
|Improving School Climate to Support Academic and SEL Development|
|ON-DEMAND WEBINAR: Best Practices for Behavior Progress Monitoring in MTSS|
|6 Steps To Using Data To Develop Classwide SEL & Behavior Strategies|
Interested in Learning How an MTSS Platform Can Support Your Behavior Staff?
The Branching Minds RTI/MTSS tool allows for the tracking of academic, SEL, and behavioral data to better identify students who are lacking specific skills hindering their success. With the use of the BRM platform, behavior staff and leaders can more effectively support staff and students in creating an inclusive environment. Visibility and progress monitoring becomes simpler. Hundreds of free evidence-based strategies, activities, and resources can be found in the BRM library. This allows behavior staff to focus on placement, progress monitoring, and celebrating the success of students who meet their academic, behavior, or social-emotional growth goals. Learn more about how Branching Minds can support your district with behavior.
Algozzine, B., Barrett, S., Eber, L., George, H., Horner, R., Lewis, T., Putnam, B., Swain-Bradway, J., McIntosh, K., & Sugai, G (2019). School-wide PBIS Tiered Fidelity Inventory. OSEP Technical Assistance Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports. www.pbis.org.Kincaid, D., Childs, K., & George, H. (2010). Tier 1 Benchmarks of Quality (Revised). https://www.livebinders.com/play/play?id=2127037
Morgan Goering is an MTSS Education Consultant for Branching Minds. As a former middle school math teacher, climate and culture coach, and assistant director of student support services, she has over 10 years of experience working with students, teachers, staff members, and administrators. Her passion for PBIS and MTSS implementation have allowed her to support the creation of student support systems in various schools across the country. She holds a Bachelor’s in Mathematics, a Master’s degree in Instruction and Curriculum Development, and a Specialist Degree and Licensure in K-12 Principal Leadership. Her desire to be a lifelong learner is evident as she pursues her Doctorate in Teaching and Learning. She is a passionate educator seeking a platform for creating positive change in education.