Academic journal article Educational Research Quarterly

The Pennsylvania Positive Behavior Support Network: Describing Our Scale-Up

Academic journal article Educational Research Quarterly

The Pennsylvania Positive Behavior Support Network: Describing Our Scale-Up

Article excerpt

School-Wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (SWPBIS) has enjoyed a relatively recent, yet rich, history of wide-scale adoption across the United States as a school reform initiative in which barriers to student learning are removed or mitigated through tiered layers of prevention and intervention (Walker et al, 1996). While the visible characteristics of SWPBIS will differ across schools based on their local preferences, demographics, and prioritized goals, commonalities exist across all SWPBIS schools. These include establishment of a few positively-stated expectations; operationalized rules and routines for every school setting; explicit instruction of rules and routines delivered to all students in the natural settings; increased supervision in nonclassroom settings (e.g., hallways, stairwells); purposeful and frequent reinforcement of prosocial behaviors with a token economy system; a sensible disciplinary code of conduct that is consistently applied; tri-annual screenings of all students to assess and intervene upon risks for psychological, behavioral, emotional, or social distress; and leadership from a core team (Sugai & Homer, 2009).

For some students, however, the prevention supports offered by SWPBIS model are not sufficient to remove barriers to learning. These students, consequently, need more intensive preventive and reactive supports and services to be successful in school (Dunlap, Sailor, Horner, & Sugai, 2009). Such strategic supports are categorized as tier 2 interventions and are typically provided to approximately 10-15% of students in a building. A small percentage of students (i.e., 28%) require intensive, individualized interventions layered on top of the existing tier 1 and tier 2 supports (Walker & Gresham, 2014). This tertiary level of intervention (i.e., tier 3 intervention) is individualized and often includes provision of supports and services to the student's family so that the student's mental health and behavioral improvements are supported in all ecologies (Eber, Sugai, Smith, & Scott, 2002).

The empirical support linking high-fidelity implementation of SWPBIS to many outcomes is compelling. Studies indicate a strong association between high fidelity SWPBIS and decreases in disruptive, dangerous, and antisocial behavior (e.g., Bradshaw, Mitchell, & Leaf, 2010; McCurdy, Mannella, & Eldridge, 2003) and reductions in exclusionary practices, such as out-of-school suspensions (Muscott, Mann, & LeBrun, 2008). Staff employed in SWPBIS schools report more time delivering instruction (Scott & Barrett, 2004), increases in teachers' perceptions of self-efficacy (Ross & Horner, 2007), and improved school climate, organizational health, and connection between staff and students (Bradshaw, Koth, Thornton, & Leaf, 2009). Most encouraging is the evidence associating SWPBIS with improved academic outcomes in reading and math (e.g., Bradshaw et al., 2010; Horner et al., 2009; McIntosh, Bennett, & Price, 2011; Simonsen et al., 2012). As a product of this growing evidentiary support, large-scale implementation of SWPBIS has gained momentum in recent years.

Pennsylvania is approaching the end of its first decade of large-scale SWPBIS adoption, and a need to critically evaluate our progress thus far is evident. Algozzine et al. (2010) codified the standard evaluative framework for largescale implementation of SWPBIS which includes evaluation across five broad domains: Context; Input; Fidelity; Impact; and Replication, Sustainability, and Improvement. The Context domain is a summary of the goals of SWPBIS implementation and documentation of the training and supports provided to schools. The second domain, Input, is a review of professional training activities and materials, training attendee satisfaction, and the depth, breadth and quality of onsite technical assistance. Fidelity is the third program evaluation domain and refers to the extent to which the SWPBIS framework was implemented as intended. …

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