District of Columbia State Improvement Grant: Finding the Keys to Student Success!

Positive Behavior Interventions & Support (PBIS)

What is PBIS?

" PBIS focuses on changing the environment while traditional approaches focus primarily on changing the person"
- LDonline

Pyramid with "Tertiary (FEW)" on top, "Secondary (SOME)" in the middle and "Primary (ALL)" on the bottomPositive behavior support is an application of a behaviorally-based systems approach to enhance the capacity of schools, families, and communities to design effective environments that improve the fit or link between research-validated practices and the environments in which teaching and learning occurs. Attention is focused on creating and sustaining primary (school-wide), secondary (classroom), and tertiary (individual) systems of support that improve lifestyle results (personal, health, social, family, work, recreation) for all children and youth by making problem behavior less effective, efficient, and relevant, and desired behavior more functional.


How is DC-SIG Implementing PBIS?

The central theme in the PBIS training is consistent with the SIG focus to reduce the number of special education referrals by:

  • Retooling and empowering teachers to address students’ behavior
  • Teaching, modeling and engaging students so that they will make greater academic strides
  • Informing and encouraging parents to become stakeholders in their children’s educations

In the first year of implementation, the SIG worked with school teams, held administrative awareness sessions and met bimonthly with its local school coaches. Pre-implementation data has been used by teams to focus on the specific needs found in their buildings. Therefore, schools have implemented key components of the PBIS process at their own individual rate. In its first year of implementation the DC SIG focused primarily on two areas:

  • Providing meaningful professional development opportunities for administrators, teachers, paraprofessional and support staff that will allow DCPS staff to implement positive behavioral supports in their schools
  • Providing coaching support for DCPS staff in the use of early interventions and research based behavioral strategies that facilitate the optimum use of instructional time, thus increasing students’ achievement

The DC-SIG PBIS team will provide supports which include:

  • Expanding school-wide PBS technical assistance to allow system and school-wide implementation
  • Examining data so school based PBIS teams may plan strategically and in turn implement behavioral supports that effect positive change in their buildings
  • Emphasizing effective education and support for students with more intense and individualized support as appropriate
  • Expanding school-wide PBIS implementation including alternative, special education centers, public charter and secondary schools
  • Increasing accessibility to the concepts, outcomes and research associated with school-wide PBS
  • Establishing a network of resource agents to build local capacity
  • Collaborating with other school systems including visiting sites that have fully implemented PBS supports.
  • Exposing teachers and administrators to evidence based practices through professional development opportunities which support the implementation of positive behavioral supports;

To accomplish these goals, the DC SIG has created partnerships with practitioners, parent advocates, teacher educators, professional association leaders, mental health providers and receives guidance from an external evaluation team.

Teams from 36 public and charter schools have been trained in using this school-wide model to address behavioral concerns, to improve teacher classroom management strategies and to increase student time on task.

Cohorts 1 and 2 receive ongoing training from Dr. George Sugai, Co-Director of the OSEP Technical Assistance Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) and Celeste Dickey from the PBIS Center at the University of Oregon. Implementation of PBIS in Division 6 schools is in collaboration with Dr. Robert March, Effective Educational Practices, LLC.

The DC-SIG also provides training for schools that are not part of the PBIS implementation which has allowed components of positive behavioral supports to be utilized by many teachers. These supports will also continue as part of the DC-SIG’s commitment to assist all District of Columbia Schools in becoming safe and orderly environments that are conducive to learning.