Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

Youth Outcomes Following Implementation of Universal SW-PBIS Strategies in a Texas Secure Juvenile Facility

Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

Youth Outcomes Following Implementation of Universal SW-PBIS Strategies in a Texas Secure Juvenile Facility

Article excerpt

As of 2002 over 500 schools in the United States had implemented school-wide positive behavior interventions and supports (SW-PBIS; Sugai & Horner, 2002) with now more than 18,000 schools adopting SW-PBIS by 2012 (R. Horner, personal communication, September, 2012). As these numbers indicate, SW-PBIS is receiving endorsement as a framework for creating safe and effective environments for learning. However, the primary focus of education remains on academic achievement. The intended outcome of SW-PBIS is a decrease in problem behavior so that an effective learning environment can be established (Sugai & Horner, 2009).

The effects of SW-PBIS on student behavior have been studied in various contexts and with different populations. SW-PBIS has been shown to decrease negative behaviors measured by office discipline referrals (ODRs; Metzler, Biglan, Rusby, & Sprague, 2001; Sherrod, Getch, & Ziomek-Daigle, 2009). Apart from overall reductions in ODRs, researchers have studied specific settings within schools, including the cafeteria, hallways, and playground. Evidence supporting the effectiveness of SW-PBIS in reducing problem behaviors is convincing. However, given the emphasis placed on academic achievement in state and federal education policy, can researchers make a connection between improved behavior and academic achievement?

Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports and Academic Achievement

Several researchers are gathering empirical support for the improvement of academic achievement following adoption of SW-PBIS (Bradshaw, Mitchell, & Leaf, 2010; Horner et al., 2009; Lassen, Steele, & Sailor, 2006; Luiselli, Putnam, Handler, & Feinberg, 2005; Menendez, Payne, & Mayton, 2008; Muscott, Mann, & LeBrun, 2008). These researchers present some positive findings, but not all of the evidence is consistent. Reading and mathematics achievement, as measured by standardized test scores, have been shown to increase following the implementation of SW-PBIS (Luiselli et al., 2005; Menendez et al., 2008).

In contrast to these findings of improvement, other researchers have reported mixed results. Muscott et al. (2008) found achievement gains in both math and reading in some of the 22 schools they examined. However, improvements were not found in 6 of the 22 schools in mathematics and 13 schools in reading levels. Lassen et al. (2006) found an initial decrease in reading scores after implementation of SW-PBIS, but the test scores improved significantly after the first year.

In two randomized control studies, academic achievement following SW-PBIS implementation is unclear. Bradshaw et al. (2010) found no statistical difference between schools in the treatment group (i.e., SW-PBIS schools) and comparison schools in academic achievement in reading or mathematics. Horner et al. (2009) found the difference between assessment prior to implementation (T1) and during implementation (T2) were statistically significant for the treatment group. Additionally, they observed a statistically significant difference between the treatment group and control group at T2. However, Horner et al. failed to find a statistically significant Time x Condition interaction effect.

Interpretation of Academic Outcomes

Despite differences in findings among studies, there appears to be some evidence that students' academic achievement improves during and after implementation of SW-PBIS. SW-PBIS is a framework for improving behavior, so why would it affect academic achievement? As Algozzine, Wang, and Violette (2011) attest, "It is difficult to learn when you are spending more time in discipline-related interactions than in those related to learning academic content" (p. 3). A few researchers have examined how SW-PBIS influences time spent on academic-related versus behavior-related, interactions (Muscott et al., 2008; Scott, 2001; Scott & Barrett, 2004).

As seen in the research on behavioral outcomes after implementing SW-PBIS, ODRs and suspensions decreased significantly. …

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