Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS)

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS)

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What is PBIS?

Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports (PBIS) is defined as, “a framework or approach comprised of intervention practices and organizational systems for establishing the social culture, learning and teaching environment, and individual behavior supports needed to achieve academic and social success for all students” (Sugai et al., 2010, p. 13).

PBIS, is a broad range of systemic and individualized strategies for achieving important social and learning outcomes in school communities while preventing problem behavior. The key attributes of PBIS include preventive activities, data-based decision-making, and a problem-solving orientation (Horner, 2000; Lewis & Sugai, 1999; Sugai et.al., 2000; Weigle, 1997) 

Schools implementing PBIS:
  • Use a continuum of evidence-based practices to support student needs
  • Engage students, families, and community members to co-create culturally responsive practices
  • Regularly check the effectiveness of their practices
  • Rely on teams to guide implementation
  • Use data to identify strengths, uncover needs, and monitor student progress
  • Implement universal screening
  • Develop content expertise through coaching and on-going professional development

PBIS emphasizes four foundational and interrelated elements: 
  • locally meaningful and culturally relevant outcomes, 
  • empirically supported practices
  • systems that effectively support implementation, 
  • and data to monitor effective and equitable implementation, as well as to guide team decision-making.
PBIS Consultants:

Why Implement PBIS?

  • Reduction in challenging behavior 
  • Increased academic performance 
  • Improved perception of safety 
  • Reduction in bullying behaviors 
  • Increased administrator time for instructional leadership 
  • Reduction in staff turnover 
  • Increased perception of teacher efficacy 
  • Improved s social-emotional competence 
  • Increased positive school climate and culture       (Horner, 2013) 

Essential Components of PBIS

Schools establish 3-5 (or 2-3 for early childhood) behavior expectations aligned with their mission, guiding staff and students across all settings.

Schools systematically and explicitly teach the school-wide expectations for behavior in all areas of the school, providing ample opportunities for students and staff to practice and receive feedback on the expected behaviors.

Consistent striving for a 5 to 1 ratio in acknowledging expected behaviors and correcting challenging behaviors is provided through: 
  • active supervision 
  • proactive scheduling 
  • logical consequences and reteaching
  • clear procedures for responding to behaviors 
  • supportive environments designed to eliminate behavior triggers
Districtwide and schoolwide systems are created to enable accurate and sustained implementation of practices.
  • Teams use data to make decisions as they focus on developing an infrastructure in schools that provides effective academic and behavioral multi-tiered systems of support for all students.
  • Progress monitoring completed for fidelity and target outcomes.

By fostering administrative commitment and involvement, schools and districts employ team-based structures to cultivate positive relationships among all stakeholders, ensuring the consistent adoption of culturally responsive practices.

Overview of PBIS Tiers: Continuum of Support

Tier 1: Universal 

Tier 1 systems form the foundation for all other tiers, serving as the basis upon which schools can build their systems. The implementation of school-wide systems through Tier 1 practices ensures the well-being of students and staff and enables schools to promptly identify students who require additional support. Positive social, emotional, and behavioral (SEB) skills are taught, modeled, and recognized in Tier 1, which supports everyone across all settings and aims to deliver regular, proactive support while preventing unwanted behaviors. To achieve optimal results, teams, data, consistent policies, professional development, and evaluation are all critical components of these practices.

The core principles guiding Tier 1 PBIS include:
  • Effectively teach appropriate SEB skills to all students
  • Intervene early before unwanted behaviors escalate
  • Use research-based, scientifically validated interventions whenever possible
  • Monitor student progress
  • Use data to make decisions
Tier 2: Targeted

Tier 2 practices and systems offer targeted support to students who require more assistance than what Tier 1 supports provide. The focus is on helping students who are at risk of developing serious problem behavior before it begins. The support at this level is more focused than Tier 1 but less intensive than Tier 3.

Group interventions with ten or more students are commonly used in Tier 2 supports, and specific interventions include social skills groups, self-management, and academic assistance. These targeted interventions, which are implemented by regular school personnel, have been found to have positive effects for up to 67% of referred students.

Tier 2 practices are built upon the foundation of strong Tier 1 support. By implementing school-wide systems, schools can identify which students require additional assistance and offer them the necessary support to help them succeed.

Tier 3: Intensive, Individualized

The PBIS framework offers an effective approach to addressing dangerous and highly disruptive behaviors that impede learning and isolate students from social settings. This framework not only supports school-wide and targeted interventions but also offers solutions to these complex behaviors.

In most schools, a small percentage of students (1-5%) do not respond to Tier 1 and Tier 2 supports. For these students, Tier 3 provides more intensive, individualized support to enhance their academic and behavioral outcomes. Tier 3 strategies are beneficial for students with developmental disabilities, autism, emotional and behavioral disorders, as well as those without any diagnostic label. Tier 3 practices build on the strong foundation established by Tier 1 and Tier 2 supports. By implementing these two tiers, schools can establish individualized teams to provide students with the intense support they require.

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