PBISPBIS Everything you need to know.

Smiling middle schooler holding their school bag

What is PBIS?

PBIS stands for positive behavioral interventions and supports or systems. It is an evidence-based, three-tiered framework that focuses on identifying, acknowledging, and encouraging positive student behaviors, rather than punishing students for negative behaviors. PBIS fosters a learning environment where educators are actually teaching and reinforcing positive behaviors, instead of just punishing students for misbehaving.

Students can only meet behavioral expectations when they know what the expectations are, and positive behavioral interventions and supports recognizes that.

It’s not uncommon for students to struggle with behavior while at school, especially when they’re unsure of what’s expected of them. If educators only respond by punishing them, students won’t develop the social-emotional skills they need to make positive changes in the future.

By identifying and supporting desired behaviors, this framework helps educators and school administrators in supporting students and improving school climate.

How does PBIS work?

At its heart, PBIS works to give students specific behaviors that help create a positive school climate. It is a framework rather than a curriculum, and can be tailored to fit the needs and expectations of individual schools or districts.

Some guiding principles include:

  • Students can learn behavioral expectations for different situations
  • Students learn expected behaviors for school settings through explicit instruction and opportunities to practice and get feedback
  • Early intervention can prevent more serious behavior problems
  • Every student is different, so schools need to offer varying types of behavior support
  • The way schools teach behavior should be based on research and science
  • Tracking a student’s behavioral progress is key
  • Schools gather and use data to make decisions about behavior interventions
  • School staff are consistent in how they encourage expected behavior and how they discourage infractions

The PBIS framework is based on four major elements:

Systems to support accurate, durable implementation of practices and the effective use of data to achieve optimal outcomes

Data to select, monitor and evaluate outcomes, practices, and systems across all three tiers of PBIS

Practices like interventions and strategies that are backed by research to target the outcomes school would like to see

Outcomes schools achieve through the data, systems, and practices they put in place

With PBIS it’s possible for schools to achieve decreased office discipline referrals, and improved student behavior and teacher outcomes.

PBIS: Three tiers of behavior support

PBIS is based on three tiers of behavior support, and each tier is targeted to a specific group of students within a school. Because of its multi-tiered framework, it is considered to be an example of a multi-tiered system of support (MTSS).

Tier 1: Universal prevention (support for all)

Tier 1 is very important, because it sets the foundation for all the other levels of support within a school. This is where behavior expectations are defined by a school and taught to students. Tier 1 is aimed at the student body as a whole.

Tier 2: Targeted prevention (support for some)

Tier 2 is for the students who need some extra support. The most important aspect of this tier is identifying the students who really need Tier 2 support. Often, schools will provide Tier 2 behavior support to a group of students with similar targeted behavior needs.

Tier 3: Intensive, individualized prevention (support for a few)

Tier 3 is the most intensive level of behavior support. This tier is designed for students who display very disruptive and dangerous behaviors. This level of student behavior support usually relies on formal assessments to determine student needs and to develop a personalized support plan.

PBIS: Key components for every tier

While every PBIS tier has its own set of systems and practices, certain components appear at each level. Each of these need to be present for positive behavioral interventions and supports to be implemented with fidelity.

  • Practices are evidence based to be effective in similar contexts with similar populations
  • Practices are organized along a tiered continuum, starting with strong universal behavior supports and followed by more intensified interventions that match the needs of students
  • Resources are allocated to ensure systems and practices are implemented consistently and with fidelity

PBIS and rewards

Many educators and experts believe in the impact positive behavioral interventions have when it comes to changing the way schools handle discipline. However, some worry rewarding students for positive behavior makes them focus more on the reward, and less on the actual behavior.

It is important to remember that using an acknowledgement system like rewards is not the same as bribing a student. PBIS does not use bribes — it acknowledges and rewards positive behavior after it happens. Students earn this acknowledgement, they are not being paid off for good behavior.

Positive behavior interventions and supports is an example of a multi-tiered system of support

Why is PBIS important?

It’s important because it helps educators support all students, but it also helps them identify the individual students who are more in need of personalized behavioral interventions and supports. PBIS offers a set of tools and strategies for schools to create a safe and fair educational experience for everyone.

Most students will probably ‘act out’ at some point, but some students struggle with more serious and frequent behavioral issues for a variety of reasons.

When schools successfully implement PBIS, they’re actively promoting a more positive school climate, and safer, more inclusive learning environments. It is a framework that works for all students — including those who are most at-risk. Research has also shown that PBIS can help administrators and teachers prevent bullying.

Middle schooler in a winter hat and jacket smiling while standing in a school hallway

What is schoolwide PBIS?

Schoolwide PBIS is based on the same principles and framework as positive behavioral interventions and supports, but goes beyond the walls of a single classroom and is rolled out within an entire school. It helps educators and school administrators create safe and positive learning environments, while also improving the social-emotional outcomes for students.

Why implement a schoolwide PBIS program?

While positive behavioral intervention and supports is definitely a great tool to help teachers manage student behavior within their classroom, the ideal way to implement it is within the entire school. So if a student is outside at recess, in the cafeteria, or walking in the hall, they have clear expectations of how they should behave during those times. This also helps to ensure that school staff have a common language to help them reinforce behavior expectations in a way that is consistent and effective.

Schoolwide PBIS has the power to shift the focus of school discipline from strictly punitive measures to positive and encouraging interactions between students and staff. Those positive interactions lead to stronger and more respectful relationships between students and school staff, and the end result is a more thriving school culture that meets the unique needs of students.

What is Virtual PBIS?

Think of Virtual PBIS as a digital framework that incorporates the same fundamental approach and best practices of traditional PBIS so it can work effectively in distance learning or a face-to-face setting.

Virtual PBIS is more than a short-term solution. It’s sustainable, extremely motivating, consistent and data driven. It’s also fun and engaging!

Read more about it!
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