Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Aligning Comprehensive School Counseling Programs and Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports to Maximize School Counselors' Efforts

Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Aligning Comprehensive School Counseling Programs and Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports to Maximize School Counselors' Efforts

Article excerpt

Too many schools are still struggling to create the nurturing, positive, and safe environments that we know are needed to boost student achievement and success. No student or adult should feel unsafe or unable to focus in school, yet this is too often a reality" (U.S. Department of Education, 2014, p. i). The U.S. Department of Education (2014) recommends that schools implement evidence-based strategies to promote safe schools, including the use of tiered supports differentiating students' needs and interventions. School-wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) are recommended as a tiered support and school counselors are one school-based staff group that is key in PBIS implementation. Several scholars describe the school counselor's role in PBIS (e.g., Cressey, Whitcomb, McGilvray-Rivet, Morrison, & Shander-Reynolds, 2014; Donohue, 2014; Goodman-Scott, 2014; Shepard, Shahidullah, & Carlson, 2013) and the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) recommends school counselors implement a comprehensive school counseling program in conjunction with PBIS (ASCA, 2014b). However, no clear, practical framework exists that aligns comprehensive school counseling programs, such as the ASCA National Model, with PBIS. In this article, the authors describe PBIS and comprehensive school counseling programs, their alignment, strategies for school counselors to implement PBIS strategies within their comprehensive program, and school counselor implications and recommendations.



PBIS is a three-tiered continuum of preventative, culturally responsive, evidence-based, data-driven interventions based on applied behavior analysis principles with the aim of creating a positive school climate, teaching measurable and appropriate behavior to all students and staff, reinforcing desired behaviors, and viewing the school as a system (Technical Assistance Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, U.S. Department of Education's Office of Special Education Programs [OSEP Center on PBIS], 2010; PBIS, 2015b; Sugai & Horner, 2006). The threetiered continuum of support includes primary, secondary, and tertiary levels of prevention, the use of evidencebased practices, and implementation in all school levels to promote a positive school climate and address behaviors such as student discipline and bullying (PBIS, 2015b; Bradshaw, 2013). PBIS is widely implemented in the U.S. in nearly 22,000 schools in all 50 states, and many states have statewide PBIS leadership teams (H. Choi, personal communication, December 15, 2014). PBIS is an explicit part of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (PBIS, 2015a), named in the 2004 amendment as the singular recommended approach to address negative behavior while promoting positive school culture (Sugai & Horner, 2009). The term "multi-tiered systems of support" is often used as an overarching descriptor of PBIS and Response to Intervention, as both include a three-tiered continuum of support (ASCA, 2014b; Sugai & Horner, 2009). The authors use the term PBIS to include similar terms that are often used interchangeably in the literature, such as positive behavior supports and school-wide positive behavior support.

Positive Outcomes

PBIS implementation relates to myriad student and school benefits. Researchers utilized a group randomized controlled effectiveness design in 37 elementary schools (21 treatment and 16 control; N = 12,344 students) over 4 years, comparing schools implementing PBIS to those not (Bradshaw, Waasdorp & Leaf, 2012; Waasdorp, Bradshaw, & Leaf, 2012). Students in the PBIS schools displayed lower levels of aggression and disruption, higher levels of attending, pro-social behavior, and emotional regulation, and were 33% less likely to receive office discipline referrals (ODRs); PBIS implementation positively impacted school climate (e.g., fewer incidences of teacher perceived bullying and peer rejection). …

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