Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports in New Hampshire: Preliminary Results of a Statewide System for Implementing Schoolwide Discipline Practices

Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports in New Hampshire: Preliminary Results of a Statewide System for Implementing Schoolwide Discipline Practices

Article excerpt

Abstract

This paper presents preliminary assessment data on initial training and implementation of a statewide system of positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS) in New Hampshire. PBIS is the systematic organization of school environments and routines that enable educators to increase the capacity to adopt, use, and sustain effective behavioral practices and processes for all students. Preliminary results indicate that schools can be trained and supported in developing effective schoolwide approaches through a statewide initiative as 15 of the 28 schools (54%) in Cohort 1 achieved implementation of schoolwide discipline procedures. Broken down by level, 75% of the multi-level schools, 62% of the elementary schools, 50% of the middle schools, and none of the high schools met the criterion. Implications for policy, practice, and research are discussed.

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School discipline continues to be one of the greatest challenges in education as both educators and the public at large continue to identify problem behavior as one of the most persistent problems schools face (Nelson, 1996; Rose & Gallup, 2000). Problem behavior exists on a continuum from relatively minor rule violating behaviors such as chewing gum, wearing a hat in class, and refusing to do schoolwork to more serious ones such as fighting, bullying, harassment, and destruction of property (Kauffman, 2001; Walker et al., 1996). Despite the fact that the overall rate of school violence has leveled off since the early seventies, milder forms of problem behavior such as disrespect, disruption, and noncompliance appear to be on the rise (Colvin, Kaneenui, & Sugai, 1993; Todd, Homer, Sugai, & Sprague., 1999) and the overall state of children's mental health appears to be deteriorating (U.S. Public Health Service, 2000). In many schools across the nation, disorderly, unsafe, and disruptive environments have replaced predictable, consistent, and safe ones (Nelson & Colvin, 1996) and schools are still the likeliest places for youth to experience acts of aggression (American School Board Journal, 1999; U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, 1978; Walsh, 1999).

While problem behavior in schools is not a new phenomenon (Braaten, 1985), recent calls to improve school safety and discipline procedures have escalated, in part, as a reaction to the low-incidence, but highly visible acts of school violence such as the shootings at Columbine High School. Unfortunately, typical approaches used by schools to deter problem behavior often exacerbate the problem. Mirroring society at large, reactions to misbehavior tend to be reactive, punitive, and rarely individualized. There is little empirical evidence to support such commonplace responses, particularly when dealing with students whose behavior problems are of a longstanding nature (Gottfredson, 1997). The evidence suggests that the adoption of district- wide, zero-tolerance policies resulting in suspensions and expulsions from school do not improve student behavior or make a positive contribution to school safety (Skiba, 2002). The consensus of the field is that proactive schoolwide discipline approaches combined with individualized approaches are needed to address the wide range of problem behaviors found in schools (Council for Children with Behavioral Disorders, 2002; Gottfredson, 1997; Skiba, 2002).

The existing literature suggests that since there is no one panacea for addressing problem behavior in all its variability, effective schoolwide approaches must consist of a broad range of strategies and sustained attention to multiple systems of intervention (Greenberg, Domitrovich, & Bumbarger, 2001; Sugai & Horner, 1999; Walker et al., 1996). One such system is positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS). PBIS is the systematic organization of school environments and routines that enable educators to increase the capacity to adopt, use, and sustain effective behavioral practices and processes for all students (Sugai, 2002; Sugai & Homer, 1999). …

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