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Program Profile: School-wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (SWPBIS)

Evidence Rating: Effective - More than one study Effective - More than one study

Date: This profile was posted on February 23, 2015

Program Summary

A universal, school-wide prevention strategy aimed at reducing behavior problems that lead to office discipline referrals and suspensions, and change perceptions of school safety. The program is rated Effective. Students in the SWPBIS schools received significantly fewer school suspensions than students in schools that did not receive SWPBIS training. Perceptions of safety improved in the schools that implemented SWPBIS, but declined in the schools that did not implement SWPBIS.

Program Description

Program Goals
The School-wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (SWPBIS) is a universal, school-wide prevention program that aims to establish a social culture within schools in which students expect and support appropriate behavior from one another— and thereby create school environments that are socially predictable, consistent, safe, and positive. The primary goals of SWPBIS are to reduce problem behaviors within schools that lead to office discipline referrals and suspensions, and to change perceptions of school safety.

Target Population
SWPBIS is a universal approach that is geared toward all students within an elementary (K–5) school population.

Program Components
The SWPBIS model utilizes behavioral, social learning, and organizational behavioral principles in school settings.  Implementation of SWPBIS involves the following seven key elements:

1. At the onset of the process, a school forms a team that includes 6–10 staff members and an administrator. The team then attends annual training events provided by skilled trainers, establishes an action plan and materials for implementation, trains school staff members, and meets twice each month to discuss school-wide behavior management systems and procedures.

2. An external behavioral support coach provides consultation and technical assistance at the school.

3. Expectations for student behavior are defined in positive, easy-to-remember language and posted in classrooms and around the school. For example, “Be responsible, be safe, be respectful.”

4. Expectations for behavior are taught to all students, using lesson plans developed by the school staff. Usually, these lessons are taught at the beginning of the school year, and once each month during the remainder of the year. Some lessons may be taught outside the classroom to allow students to practice the appropriate ways to behave in the cafeteria, in the hallway, and on the bus.

5. A system is developed and used consistently throughout the school to reward students who behave appropriately. For example, some schools use “high-fives” to reinforce positive behaviors.

6. Behavioral violations are dealt with in a consistent manner across all classrooms. Everyone in the school knows what types of behaviors are dealt with in the classroom and which lead to office discipline referrals.

7. Office discipline referral data is collected in a consistent manner, and the entire staff is trained on procedures for documenting discipline problems.

Key Personnel
A team of 6–10 staff members and an administrator are required to form a SWPBIS team in the school. Ultimately, every staff member should be trained in the process, whether by skilled trainers or staff members on the SWPBIS team who attended the initial training.

Other Information
SWPBIS also includes targeted (Tier II) support for small groups or individuals exhibiting problem behavior, and tertiary (Tier III) support for students presenting more complex patterns of behavior.  However, the effectiveness of Tier II and Tier III supports are not incorporated in the studies in this review.

Evaluation Outcomes

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Study 1
School Suspensions
Bradshaw, Mitchell, and Leaf (2010) found that SWPBIS had a small to medium effect on school suspensions (d=.27). The percentage of students receiving school suspensions significantly declined over the course of the study for the School-wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (SWPBIS) schools, but not for the comparison schools that did not receive SWPBIS training. 

Study 2
Perceived School Safety
Horner and colleagues (2009) found that SWPBIS had a significantly large effect on perceptions of school safety (d=-.86), in that perceptions of safety improved in the schools that implemented SWPBIS, but declined in the schools that did not implement SWPBIS.

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Evaluation Methodology

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Study 1
Bradshaw, Mitchell, and Leaf (2010) conducted a longitudinal-group, randomized-effectiveness study of School-wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (SWPBIS) using 37 public elementary schools from suburban (48 percent); urban fringe (41 percent); and rural districts in Maryland, of which 49 percent received Title I support. Between 2 and 13 schools participated from each of five districts that varied by size. After the schools were matched on demographic factors, 21 were randomized to receive SWPBIS, and 16 were assigned as comparison schools that did not receive SWPBIS. Thirty-seven schools participated in the project over 2 consecutive years.

The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) provided school-level suspension rates for the baseline year through year 4 of the study. The percentage of students suspended was calculated by dividing the total number of suspension events for a given school year by the student enrollment for that year, multiplied by 100. The researchers used the Wilcoxon signed-rank test, in which a Z score was computed separately for the two conditions, to determine whether there was a significant reduction in suspension rates for the SWPBIS and comparison schools between the baseline year and year 4 of the study. Data on Office Discipline Referrals (ODR) was collected using the Internet-based School-Wide Information System; however, outcomes on ODR are not included here because ODR data was collected only from the SWPBIS schools and not from the comparison schools. 

Study 2
Horner and colleagues (2009) conducted a randomized, wait-list controlled effectiveness trial between 2002 and 2006 with groups of elementary schools in Illinois and Hawaii. Thirty schools from each state were randomly assigned to either a treatment or control/delayed group. The schools were self-nominated by school building administrators, had not previously received training in SWPBIS, and had demonstrated state capacity to provide whole-school team building in SWPBIS. Following design adjustments, the study included 33 schools in the treatment group that received SWPBIS training at Time 1 of the study, and 30 schools in the combined control/delay group that received the training a year later, at Time 2.The only statistically significant difference between the two groups was the larger enrollment in the control/delay schools than in the treatment schools. Participating schools had an average enrollment of 471 students (ranging between 131 and 969); 61 percent non-white ethnicities (ranging between 2–100 percent); and 51 percent qualifying for free or reduced lunch (ranging between 0–99 percent).

The School Safety Survey (SSS) Risk Factor Score was used to measure the level of perceived school safety in the participating schools. The survey provides a summary rating of at least five individuals serving four varying roles within schools, including an administrator, a supervisory staff member, a classified staff member, and at least one teacher. The Risk Factor Score, an index examining design of space, crowding, perceived caring, perceived sensitivity to cultural differences, student bonding in the school, the quality of student–adult interactions, and the level of adult supervision, was used to determine the extent to which the overall school culture was perceived as a safer and more socially supportive environment. The researchers computed a partial correlation coefficient (r) to estimate the effect size.

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Cost

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Information about the cost to implement School-wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (SWPBIS) can be found at http://www.pbis.org/common/cms/files/pbisresources/20120802_WhatDoesItCostToImplementSWPBIS.pdf.
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Implementation Information

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Schools interested in receiving School-Wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (SWPBIS) training may find their state contact information at https://www.pbis.org/pbis-network. Additional information for new SWPBIS teams is available at https://www.pbis.org/training/new-team.

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Evidence-Base (Studies Reviewed)

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These sources were used in the development of the program profile:

Study 1
Bradshaw, Catherine, Mary Mitchell, and Philip Leaf. 2010. “Examining the Effects of Schoolwide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports on Student Outcomes.” Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions 12(3):133-148.

Study 2
Horner, Robert, George Sugai, Keith Smolkowski, Lucille Eber, Jean Nakasato, Anne Todd, and Jody Esperanza. 2009. “A Randomized, Wait-List Controlled Effectiveness Trial Assessing School-Wide Positive Behavior Support in Elementary Schools.” Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions 11(3):133-144.
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Additional References

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These sources were used in the development of the program profile:

Bradshaw, Catherine, Christine Koth, Leslie Thornton, and Philip Leaf. 2009. “Altering School Climate through School-Wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports: Findings from a Group-Randomized Effectiveness Trial.” Prevention Science 10:100-115.

Bradshaw, Catherine, Elise Pas, Asha Goldweber, Michael Rosenberg, and Philip Leaf. 2012. "Integrating School-Wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports with Tier 2 Coaching to Student Support Teams: The PBISplus Model." Advances in School Mental Health Promotion 5(3):177-193.

Bradshaw, Catherine, Tracy Waasdorp, and Philip Leaf. 2012. “Effects of School-Wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports on Child Behavior Problems.” Pediatrics 130(5):e1136-e1145.

Office of Special Education Programs. 2014. “PBIS: Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports.” Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs.
https://www.pbis.org/

Waasdorp,Tracy, Catherine Bradshaw, and Philip Leaf. 2012. “The Impact of Schoolwide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports on Bullying and Peer Rejection.” Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine 166(2):149-156.
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Program Snapshot

Age: 5 - 11

Gender: Both

Race/Ethnicity: Black, American Indians/Alaska Native, Asian/Pacific Islander, Hispanic, White, Other

Geography: Rural, Urban

Setting (Delivery): School

Program Type: Academic Skills Enhancement, Classroom Curricula, Conflict Resolution/Interpersonal Skills, School/Classroom Environment

Current Program Status: Active

Listed by Other Directories: Model Programs Guide

Researcher:
Robert Horner
Professor/Co-Director
Educational Community Supports (ECS)–University of Oregon, Eugene
140 Lokey Education, Building 1235
Eugene OR 97403-1235
Phone: 541.346.2462
Website
Email

Researcher:
Catherine Bradshaw
Deputy Director
Johns Hopkins Center for the Prevention of Youth Violence, John Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health
415 N. Washington Street, Room 501
Baltimore MD 21231
Phone: 410.624.9102
Website
Email