Positive Behavior Intervention Support in Schools to Improve Student


Many parents entrust their children in school for academic achievement and the building of good character. When students perform poorly or misbehave, most parents and guardians question the school authority the students conduct and poor performance since the children spend more time at school to learn suitable manner and knowledge. Students struggling with misbehavior can affect the character and performance of others, such as causing distractions during class and bullying others. Thus, Students struggling with misbehavior must undergo punishment or intervention to prevent indiscipline. All academic institutions are looking for practical strategies for ensuring effective learning and positive academic outcomes among all students. Teachers have always used traditional disciplining students, such as detention or performing extra duties. However, these techniques do not improve students’ character and academic performance because they do not add any particular value to their lives. Introducing positive intervention measures guarantee more character development and academic achievement than traditional methods of punishment.

Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS) programs are among the current positive intervention strategies schools are applying for positive outcomes academically and in character development. The approach has a set of principles and intervention programs that guide students towards good behavior according to a student’s level of indiscipline. This paper discusses the concept of the PBIS program and its effectiveness in promoting good behavior, academic achievement, and a favorable climate in schools in the United States.

History of PBIS Program

The idea of PBIS has been studied and implemented since the 1960s. The theory integrates various behavioral principles that have been developed over time to establish a stable approach of intervening students’ behaviors and academic achievement in schools. In early 1980, a group of academic researchers from the University of Oregon started implementing and demonstrating practices that could help intervene students with indiscipline disorders (Leitch, 2017). At the time, there was a deep concern for students with misbehaving disorders, which demanded urgent addressing and solutions to develop better characters.

The main focus was establishing an approach that prevents indiscipline among students and promotes academic achievement through empowering teachers’ skills such as social instruction and professional development. In 1990, the Oregon research team presented their idea following a legislative act for individuals with disabilities demanding evidence-based practice that could prevent and curb misbehavior in children (Noltemeyer et al., 2017). The PBIS idea won the competition for the best practice, which led to the development of the PBIS center. The center comprised researchers and implementers from various universities such as Oregon, May Institute, and Sheppard Pratt Health systems, who came together to establish intervention measures for behavior disorder. Since then, the program has been in practice, and by 2000, it had covered five cycles of effective practice in more than 10 000 schools (Freeman et al., 2017). PBIS now provides technical assistance and professional development towards good character and positive outcomes academically. Schools use the program to ensure good behavior and safety in the school environment since it focuses on preventing children from developing lousy conduct rather than punishing them after the act.

The Concept of PBIS

The Basic Principles of the Program

PBIS works on seven principles and three intervention tires, which provide guidelines for effective behavior prevention. The first principle is effectively teaching all children on concepts of manners. According to the PBIS center, all children have good character and need assistance maintaining and developing good manners (Petrasek et al., 2021). Therefore, the program takes the initiative of training the students to have good manners through a system that provides practical guidelines for character development. The second principle is an early intervention that involves instilling good conduct in students before developing a terrible character. Early intervention helps curb misbehavior in the early stages preventing further escalation among high-risk students (Noltemeyer et al., 2017). The program achieves this principle through continuous monitoring and supporting students with a high risk of misbehaving.

Thirdly, the program works on a multi-tier system that supports students’ needs according to the level of indiscipline. The system works on the belief that successful intervention must involve intervention according to different intensity and nature of the misconduct (Leitch, 2017). The fourth principle insists on working with evidence-based practices, ensuring all students benefit from the intervention program. All practices and steps have been scientifically proven to avoid loopholes that may lead to ineffectiveness in developing good character and positive academic outcomes (Petrasek et al., 2021). Since students need to improve academically and behavior-wise through the program, the fifth principle involves monitoring student progress at each intervention level. The program conducts assessments on every slight change and recommends the following steps until a student achieves the expected outcomes. In the process of early intervention and monitoring, the sixth principle involves effective decision-making on the students’ progress. The decisions are made using a compilation of a students’ data on behavior and academic achievement obtained from the school. Therefore, a student’s data must be available for effective decision-making on intervention practices and recommendations.

Finally, PBIS assesses students in three behavioral categories. The first category involves screening daily data per month, which compares the number of disciplinary referrals a student attended. The second assessment looks at the location, type of misconduct, and the time it occurred. The third assessment focuses on monitoring student progress to see the program’s effectiveness. At the end of the third assessment, the PBIS team can determine the program’s effectiveness through observable changes in behavior, which also reflects in academics.

The Multi-Tier System

The program applies the above principles in a multi-tier system that includes three tiers of intervention that help provide support according to a student’s level of misbehavior. Each tier consists of specific features and a system of intervention that suits students’ needs at a particular level. The first tier involves all universal training and prevention of misconduct among all students. The first level aims at early intervention to prevent future indiscipline cases. It forms a foundation for developing good manners and academic achievement through training on the basics of good characters, such as respect (Griffiths et al., 2019). Behavioral training at this level includes discouraging misbehavior during assemblies and morning announcements. Students can also listen to relaxing music before a class which helps reduce anxiety and improve attention in class (Keller-Bell & Short, 2019). Promoting good conduct also involves encouraging a student’s good character and academic achievement by giving rewards, tokens, and words of praise

In the second tier, PBIS targets students still struggling with behavior disorders. If early intervention is ineffective, students go through the second tier, which involves evidence-based practices that promote good character. The practices include basic instruction on social thinking, association, and literacy skills. After going through the second tier, students who face disciplinary challenges require additional support. Thus, they move to the third tier, which involves intense behavioral support from the PBIS team and team leaders. Unlike the first and second-tier where instructions occur in groups, the third tire is exceptional and handles students’ needs individually.

Leadership Team

PBIS has leadership teams according to the demands of each tier. In the first tier, the leadership team comprises a support team that practices school-wide duties. The duties include accessing and monitoring student data, ensuring all students access and benefit from the program’s resources, and evaluating the extent of the program’s effectiveness (Leitch, 2017). Leaders also orient the school’s staffs about PBIS, its activities, and principles that create positive outcomes in students. The leaders also teach staff ways of promoting good behavior in the first tier, such as giving rewards and praise. Each team leader has a particular role, such as data collection and monitoring, and meets monthly to report the various activities and progress (Keller-Bell & Short, 2019). The program’s leaders combine effort and skill with the school staff to ensure the program’s effectiveness.

Effectiveness of PBIS in Student Behavior and Performance

Pbis program has proven effective in schools with high rates of behavior disorder among the students. Schools get disciplinary intervention support through the technical assistance Center (TA), funded by the federal government’s department of education and special needs program (Leitch, 2017). According to (McDaniel et al., 2018), the schools have experienced fewer disciplinary referrals suspension and expulsion cases among students since 2000. More than 20,000 schools in the United States have adopted PBIS programs to prevent student misbehavior (Freeman et al., 2017). Almost 10% of schools in the United States have trained for PBIS and applying the strategy through the TA (Freeman et al., 2017). The statistics clearly indicate that more schools are willing to apply the approach to curb indiscipline since it has proven its effectiveness in other schools.

Implementing PBIS in Schools

The primary practices of PBIS in schools nowadays include promoting acceptable behavior according to the school and community’s expectations. Secondly, the program works with rewarding well-behaved students, administering punishments that develop character and academics and monitoring students’ behavioral progress. The program begins with the first tier, which is universal and school-wide to accommodate all students’ needs (Griffiths et al., 2019). The first tier includes teaching all students good conduct at all times. The level involves rewards, tokens, and praising words to students meeting the academic and behavioral expectations of the school and community. Students who do not comply proceed to the second tier to get additional support. The second tier involves much contact with peer support or adults who encourage good manners. Most students develop good character during the first tier, while the rest get better during or after the second tier (Keller-Bell & Short, 2019). Students who persist in bad conduct move to the final tier, which offers behavioral support on an individual level. More adults get involved in the student character in the third tier to ensure adequate recovery and positive outcomes.

Establishing PBIS Team in Schools

Establishing a PBIS framework in school requires commitment and persistence among the team leaders. The program is a long-term activity that benefits staff and students and must have support and partnership from various areas concerned with the student’s welfare. Team members comprise an administration representative, concerned teachers, departmental representative, parent representative, and behavioral expert (Leitch, 2017). Depending on the school set-up, the administrative representative can be the principal or dean, and parent representatives can be more than one. Other schools include community members and educational departments such as the district education officer. Each group member has a defined role that aims to drive forward the initiative and ensure students’ positive outcomes academically and behaviorally.

A team leader is appointed to facilitate group activities such as coordinating meetings, informing group members on the group’s agenda, and serving as the center point of all members’ consultation. The administrator is responsible for staffing, approving budgets, coordinating feedback, and scheduling meetings (Leitch, 2017). The team also includes a timekeeper and records manager whose role is keeping time and tracking records during meetings. One person can do the duties or split to accommodate all members. Another position is a data specialist who offers technical support and reports on the program’s progress, which helps assess the framework’s effectiveness at each tier. Finally, a behavioral specialist provides professional counsel on the effectiveness of the PBIS program generally and at an individual level. The advice helps guide team members on the following steps to benefit all students and produce positive outcomes. The team establishes goals and objectives and work diligently towards achieving the expected outcomes (Kittelman et al., 2019). The schools PBIS team works with the leadership team to monitor progress, adjust the intervention methods, and recommend next steps that ensure the program’s effectiveness.

Student Outcomes through the PBIS Program

The first tier is the most effective intervention approach because of the extensive coverage and training among students and teachers (Kittelman et al., 2019). The first-tier purpose of early intervention is also more practical than traditional discipline in curbing indiscipline because students are yet to learn lousy behavior, which might corrupt the mind and pose challenges in trying to change their bad character. Studies show that the efforts tier effectively prevents indiscipline in school with students having high emotional disturbances (Griffiths et al., 2019). The program was implemented involving students, the community, the administration, and a psychologist, where positive changes occurred during and after tier one. The intervention promoted discipline, and the school experienced fewer incidences of disciplinary referrals.

Similarly, another study to show the effectiveness of PBIS programs in academic achievement indicated that elementary children developed more skills in reading and solving mathematical problems (Pas et al., 2019). The students’ academic improvement results from calmness and obedience during class. In high school and middle school, the schools reported fewer cases of absenteeism, bullying, and classroom distraction due to indiscipline (Gase et al., 2017). Teachers, students, and the community reported the program’s practicality as socially and academically significant to students’ needs.


The PBIS program has significant benefits to students and teachers socially and academically. Reduction in disciplinary cases such as suspension, detention, and referrals create a better educational climate because of fewer distractions. Few discipline cases also save the teachers and administrations time by converting the time spent on discipline into teaching. The program is effective because it integrates various behavioral principles that have been developed over time to establish a stable approach to intervening in students’ character and academic achievement in schools. Over 20000 schools embrace the program and training on implementing the framework, particularly the first tier, because it has proven the most effective approach. The schools that have effectively implemented the program report positive outcomes in behavior and students’ improvement in academics. Indicators of the program effectiveness include fewer disciplinary cases, positive acknowledgments of PBIS support by the community, teachers and students, and more schools training and implementing the program.


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