Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

Tertiary-Tier PBIS in Alternative, Residential and Correctional School Settings: Considering Intensity in the Delivery of Evidence-Based Practice

Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

Tertiary-Tier PBIS in Alternative, Residential and Correctional School Settings: Considering Intensity in the Delivery of Evidence-Based Practice

Article excerpt

Positive behavior interventions and supports (PBIS) is an evidence-based multi-tiered system for addressing discipline problems in schools (e.g., Bradshaw, Mitchell, & Leaf, 2010; Horner et al., 2009; Sugai & Horner, 2006). The first two tiers of PBIS are focused on school-/facility-wide and small group interventions, the third tier is concerned with individualized assessment and intervention, typically involving functional behavior assessment and team-based function-based intervention (Sugai et al., 2000). While the research on effective PBIS across tiers is well-established, the bulk of that research is with typical schools, at the elementary age level, and focused at the tier I (e.g., Sailor, Stowe, Turnbull, Klienhammer, & Tramill, 2007; Simonsen, Sugai, & Negron, 2008). Less attention has been paid to how settings such as alternative, residential, and correctional schools/facilities may necessitate alterations in systems, practices, and procedures--especially as they relate to individual student interventions.

These alternative education (AE) settings are most unique by nature of their population; they are made up exclusively of children and youth who in the typical environment would be considered to be the most challenging and identified as requiring the highest level of intervention. However, evidence shows that the breakdown of students identified in each of the tiers does not significantly differ across different settings (Nelson, Sprague, & Martin, 2007). That is, the majority of students in both typical schools and AE settings are largely successful with the expectations (Nelson et al., 2007). Of course, the complexity of structure and coordination among systems is necessarily much greater in settings with more challenging populations. By that same token, while functional behavior assessment and function-based intervention planning (FBP) are characteristic of intervention at tier III (Sugai et al., 2000), the simplified FBP procedures commonly presented in the literature (e.g., Loman & Borgmeier, 2010; Scott, Anderson, & Spaulding, 2008; Scott & Kamps, 2007) will likely be insufficient in AE settings. That is, the complexity of structure and practice related to FBP will necessarily be greater in settings where student misbehavior is likely to be more serious in terms of both topography and intensity (Turton, 2009).

This paper presents considerations for implementing effective tier III interventions in AE settings. Consideration of the necessary and sufficient systems and procedures requires first an analysis of the unique features commonly associated with these settings.

Unique Features of Alternative, Residential, and Correctional School Settings

AE settings present various characteristics such as a focus on punitive consequences (NAACP, 2005) that are not conducive to the academic and social/behavioral success of students--especially those with disabilities. In particular, characteristics such as a focus on instruction with intervention and an established collaboration structure that allow for the effective implementation of PBIS in typical school settings may be lacking across the range of AE settings (NAACP, 2005). This is especially concerning considering that estimates indicate that 50 to 80% of the students in these settings have learning disabilities (Quinn, Rutherford, Leone, Osher, & Poirer, 2005), compared to a 4.2% prevalence among the general student population in typical school settings (Friend & Bursuck, 2012).

In addition to a range of disabilities, students removed from typical school settings are more likely to have been victims of abuse and have intensive mental health needs. It is estimated that between 40 and 73% of girls in the juvenile corrections system have been physically abused, compared with 26% in the general population (Girls, Inc., 2002). In fact, past studies of youth in the juvenile justice system have estimated the prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder at 41%, a history of child abuse at between 25-31%, and anxiety disorders at between 6 and 41% (Nelson, Rutherford, & Wolford, 1996). …

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