Positive intervention strategy improves student behavior
A program known as School-Wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (SWPBIS) has been shown as beneficial to significantly reducing aggressive behavior and discipline problems in children. SWPBIS is supported by the US Department of Education and the Office of Special Education Programs.
School-Wide PBIS is a prevention strategy that aims to alter student behavior by setting universal – but positively stated – expectations for student behavior. It is not a curriculum or practice, but a decision-making framework that guides selection, integration, and implementation of the best evidence-based academic and behavioral practices for improving outcomes for all students.
These types of programs are used in more than 16,000 schools across the United States.
Johns Hopkins researchers, including Catherine P. Bradshaw PhD Med, an associate professor in the Bloomberg School of Public Health, analyzed data from a representative sample of more than 12,000 elementary school children from 37 schools. Approximately half of the students received free or reduced-priced meals and nearly 13% received special education services. The researchers analyzed the teachers’ ratings of behavior and concentration problems, social-emotional functioning, pro-social behavior, office discipline referrals, and suspension over 4 school years.
Children in SWPBIS schools were 33% less likely to receive an office discipline referral than those in comparison schools. Overall, the children were also less likely to have concentration problems or other problem behaviors. The effects of SWPBIS were greatest when the children were introduced to the program early, beginning in kindergarten.
In general, SWPBIS emphasizes the development of interventions and supports to make decisions and solve problems. Prosocial skills – behaviors intended to benefit another person – are taught and encouraged with the hopes of children being less reactive and aversive, and more engaging and productive. Examples include learning impulse control and self-calming skills, and recognizing the feelings of others (learning empathy).
SWPBIS programs differ from past discipline programs that focused mainly on reacting to student misbehavior by implementing punishment-based strategies such as reprimands and suspensions. Teaching a positive approach to behavior is more pro-active than reactive, notes experts, and establishes a climate within the school in which appropriate behavior is the norm.
To learn more about Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, visit www.PBIS.org.
Sources: “Effects of School-Wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports on Child Behavior Problems” by Catherine Bradshaw, PhD, MEd; Tracy E. Waasdorp, PhD, MEd; and Philip J. Leaf, PhD. Published in the journal Pediatrics on October 15, 2012 (eFirst).
OSEP Technical Assistance Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports