How Kickboard’s PBIS and SEL Professional Development Helped Reduce Student Suspensions at Baseline Academy
Suspensions and office referrals have decreased since Baseline implemented Kickboard and started planning with a Kickboard Leadership Coach.
The number of suspensions dropped from 95 during the 2016-2017 school year to only 15 during the 2017-2018 school year, showing an 82% decrease. In addition, Baseline went from having almost 35 office referrals in November 2018 to fewer than 10 in subsequent months, as a result of fewer category 2 and 3 behaviors, and the ability to proactively address students’ behavior before it escalates.
When Baseline Academy was established as a turnaround school in 2015, it meant a new principal and all new staff. There was also a lack of consistent schoolwide expectations, policies, and procedures that led to discipline issues and negatively impacted school culture. Each teacher had their own rules and expectations in their individual classrooms and the new leadership team knew they would need unified schoolwide cultural expectations if they were going to successfully turn the school around.
In preparing for their first year as a turnaround school, leaders at Baseline learned about Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), and set a plan in motion for how to collectively establish an effective schoolwide PBIS system. Pamela Freeman, now Baseline’s principal, could see that students responded positively when teachers began narrating expected behaviors, and noted that “it was refreshing for them to have people talking to them in positive tones.”
Baseline began their PBIS implementation with “Bluejay Bucks” that students could earn for positive behavior choices and spend in a school store. While this was a step in the right direction, there were still challenges. The “Bluejay Buck” system was paper-based, which prevented staff from gathering data or seeing patterns.
With Bluejay Bucks, there was no way to analyze behavior data and share promising practices, and there was no accountability measure for teachers. There was also inconsistency in teachers’ use of positive reinforcement, because of the lack of schoolwide norms on the specifics of the system. One teacher might give $1 for a behavior, whereas a different teacher may give $10 for the same behavior. Baseline also did not have a specific SMART goal around behavior. Change was starting to happen, but there was no clear vision for success.
There was also no system in place for addressing corrective behaviors at Baseline. Their district handbook explicitly laid out three categories or tiers of corrective behaviors, but Baseline did not have a schoolwide process for responding to those behaviors. There was no clearly defined RtI or MTSS behavior support system in place, so students who struggled with behavior were not getting the systematic support they needed.
Staff were bought in to the new PBIS culture shift, but were aware that there was still work to be done. There was no day-to-day data to show the impact of their shift to positivity or to show the gaps in student behavior, but there were 94 suspensions at Baseline that school year, which leaders felt was too high. Baseline’s leadership realized that they were not doing enough and needed to take more action on a schoolwide level to improve school culture.
Getting Started with Kickboard: Recording Positive & Corrective Behaviors
In the summer of 2017, Baseline’s leaders learned about Kickboard, and were excited that it could be customized to fit with the PBIS structures they already had in place. Staff started tracking both positive and corrective interactions with students in Kickboard, aligning behaviors to their PBIS behavior matrix as well as their district handbook. They focused on positive framing, working toward a schoolwide goal of 5 positive interactions for every 1 negative interaction with students.
When they implemented Kickboard, Baseline started rewarding students with points whenever they exhibited one of the “Baseline Be’s” (be safe, be kind, be respectful, be responsible). Students also earned points for showing the school’s core values, such as leadership, empowerment, and progress. They could, in turn, use these points to make purchases at the school store.
Unlike in 2016-2017, when Baseline’s paper Bluejay Buck system was inconsistently implemented from classroom to classroom, each behavior was assigned a specific numeric value on Kickboard, which also made the incentive-purchasing process easy. The effort that students were putting into their behavior improvement was resulting in tangible outcomes that they earned with their actions.
In addition to recording positive behaviors, Baseline made sure to record and address corrective behaviors on Kickboard as part of their Tier 1 practices. Their district handbook laid out a detailed three-category matrix of corrective behaviors, sorted as minor, moderate, or major depending on their severity, which were easily tracked in Kickboard.
Baseline’s leaders wanted to make sure to consistently track both positive and corrective behaviors, because even though the building felt a lot better since implementing PBIS, they did not have the data to show what was happening, or to see which specific behaviors still needed work.
Leadership coaching from Kickboard
Baseline had made great strides with PBIS. Behavior was improving, teachers were on board, and they knew they could get helpful data from Kickboard. But they needed a more targeted and intentional approach. Pamela explained that while they were consistently entering behaviors into Kickboard, they did not have any PD around what to get out of that behavior data. They were using Tier 1 best practices, and knew that they had data on Kickboard, but did not know how to merge everything together in order to effectively “run reports and make decisions.”
Toward the end of the 2017-2018 school year, Baseline school leaders also noticed that while school culture was headed in the right direction and they were seeing improvement, there were still gaps. They were successfully teaching positive behaviors to students, and saw those behaviors exhibited consistently by most Tier 1 students. However, there were still students who needed more targeted Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) support. Baseline leaders decided to participate in a Kickboard webinar about combining SEL and Kickboard, which began their conversation about how they could move forward with a plan for even more structured support and intentional data analysis.
Pamela, now the principal at Baseline, was intrigued by Kickboard’s professional services around leadership team support, and realized her leadership team had room for improvement. When Pamela connected with Kickboard’s Professional Services Manager, they decided that a Kickboard leadership coach would join for Baseline’s upcoming leadership retreat. The coach also provided individualized support to Pam—before the leadership retreat, they spent a day discussing where Baseline had been, where they were now, and where they wanted to go. This conversation framed the professional development for the upcoming leadership retreat, as it was tiered to fit the specific needs of Baseline.
During their leadership retreat, after analyzing and reflecting on the past year’s data with the Kickboard coach, the Baseline team set two main goals for the 2018-2019 school year: teachers would maintain a 5:1 ratio of positive-to-corrective interactions, and would improve consistency by “verbally reinforcing and capturing at least 200 interactions per week for their class.” They also planned to track social-emotional learning (SEL) competencies in Kickboard, and to use data more intentionally and proactively.
Positive Reinforcement of Behaviors
In the 2018-2019 school year, in addition to earning points in Kickboard for the “Baseline Be’s” and school values, students could also earn points for exhibiting social-emotional competencies like relationship skills, self awareness, self management, responsible decisions, or social awareness. These points, like those earned for other positive behaviors, could be spent by students in the school store.
Baseline also celebrated students who exhibited these SEL behaviors by posting “Social & Emotional Awareness Awards” in the hallways. Students were recognized for things like cooperating with others, showing empathy, asking for help, and sharing their feelings and ideas. This public display added another level of positive reinforcement to Baseline’s existing practices.
By using Kickboard to record positive behavior, Pamela was able to dig into what was going well, which behaviors were being recognized the most and the least, and whether there was equity across the classroom in terms of students being recognized for doing the right thing. This detailed information would also help them to see teacher-specific data to help inform individualized support for staff members as well as whole-school professional development.
Schoolwide Consistency in Corrections
While Baseline had already been recording corrective behaviors, they now established a detailed plan and consistent protocol for how teachers and school leadership would respond to each tier of behaviors. Baseline’s Kickboard Leadership Coach helped Pamela and her leadership team create a protocol that set norms for teacher actions and admin actions, created an early warning system to prevent behavior escalation, and set up expectations for clear communication via Kickboard.
BASELINE KICKBOARD PROTOCOL
Minor misbehaviors like inappropriate language, not following directions, or disrupting learning were defined as “Category 1” behaviors, which teachers were expected to address in their classrooms with various interventions before documenting in Kickboard. If a category one behavior persisted, or if a student exhibited a more moderate misbehavior like repeatedly not following directions, teachers would “flag” in Kickboard that the student was in need of a behavior intervention or that the student was fighting.
Pamela set up Kickboard’s automatic triggers so that when these behaviors were flagged, the principal and behavior interventionist would automatically get a text notification of the behavior on their cell phones. They would then be able to support the student and note the details of the intervention in Kickboard. This two-way communication resulted in improved transparency across the staff, and captured a full picture of a student’s behavior and the steps taken to address it.
Category 3 misbehaviors, like aggression or major class disruptions, were addressed similarly. The teacher (after ensuring student safety) documented the behavior in Kickboard alongside an “Office Referral” behavior. That entry immediately notified the principal and behavior interventionist, who in turn addressed the student misbehavior, documented the response, and recorded the outcome of the referral. This created a clear communication channel between staff.
With the new proactive system in place, teachers reported they felt more supported regarding serious misbehavior and administrators reported being more free to respond only when they were truly needed.
This detailed data could was also used in parent-teacher conferences and school-based intervention team (SBIT) meetings, when discussing how to best support an individual student.
Intentional Analysis of Data
With support from their Kickboard Leadership Coach, Baseline leaders and teachers were able to start analyzing data to see behavior trends on a teacher and student level, to identify which behaviors were documented most frequently, and to respond to comprehensive real-time data, instead of having to wait for end-of-quarter suspension data. This allowed Baseline staff members to be more proactive and responsive to students’ needs, instead of addressing issues reactively.
Principal Support from Kickboard
During the 2018-2019 school year, Pamela and her Kickboard leadership coach also met on a regular basis to dive into data, set and monitor progress toward their goals, and identify actions for continuous improvement.
During the summer, they made a plan for implementing social-emotional learning (SEL) across the school, as well as for teachers to use culture PLCs and peer culture walks to help one another improve. They also looked in detail at behavior data from the previous year, and set targeted goals.
In the fall, the Kickboard coach worked with Pamela to analyze schoolwide data and make necessary adjustments. They looked at individual teachers’ positivity ratios and individual student data, and put plans in place for addressing areas of improvement.
With continuous support from their Kickboard Leadership Coach, the PBIS team was able to address issues as they surfaced, and even created incentives for teachers when there was a dip in Kickboard usage. By rewarding teachers during a difficult time of year, they were able to meet their 200 interactions-per-week goal, which ultimately helped them reach the culture outcomes their students needed.
Professional Learning Communities (PLCs)
During the summer of 2018, Baseline’s Kickboard Culture Coach helped Pamela to establish culture professional learning communities (PLCs) so that teachers could intentionally analyze culture data in Kickboard and reflect on their own practices, as well as collaborate with their peers.
In October that year, the Kickboard coach supported teachers as they participated in their first round of Culture PLCs. Teachers met in grade level teams, and followed the PLC meeting protocol that Kickboard provided. Each teacher reflected on their own Kickboard data and classroom culture, collaboratively brainstormed how they could tweak their own practices, and then prioritized actions.
Teachers committed to specific actions such as, “Work on naming and categorizing behaviors as they occur to develop fluency with social emotional competencies.” After each teacher had gone through this process, the group discussed common patterns and determined next steps that they could work on together.
Baseline had support from their Kickboard Leadership Coach for their second round of culture PLCs as well, and then teacher groups continued to meet on their own throughout the rest of the year.
Peer Culture Walks
In addition to culture PLCs where teachers formally met and discussed data, Kickboard’s professional services helped Baseline teachers to set up a system for peer-to-peer feedback. Teachers were given resources for conducting Peer Culture Walks and a rubric and protocol to follow when providing feedback to their colleagues. While in a peer’s classroom, observing teachers would tally positive and corrective interactions in order to accurately capture the positivity ratio during that class. They also recorded specific phrases that the teacher used when addressing students to provide anecdotal evidence alongside the quantitative data. Once they captured this information, they would leave feedback t for their peers in terms of what they did well (“glows”), and ideas for improvement (“grows”).
With the guidance of Kickboard’s Professional Services, Baseline was able to build on their established Tier 1 behavior systems and incorporate consistent responses to challenging behaviors. They worked with their Kickboard Leadership Coach to incorporate data analysis into teacher and leader practices, and saw impressive results.
Pamela Freeman, the principal at Baseline Academy, said “people walk into our school, and they sense a positive environment.” Baseline has a school culture that is founded in positivity, and they have intentionally focused on creating that environment. After implementing Kickboard alongside their strong and clearly communicated Tier 1 systems, they now also have the data to back up that positive feeling. This year at Baseline, 95% of student-teacher interactions were positive, as opposed to corrective.
Suspensions and office referrals have decreased since Baseline implemented Kickboard and started planning with a Kickboard Leadership Coach. The number of suspensions dropped from 95 during the 2016-2017 school year to only 15 during the 2017-2018 school year, showing an 82% decrease. While the number of suspensions increased slightly to 19 during the 2018-2019 school year, Pamela was able to look at that data in detail, and saw that a significant portion of those 19 suspensions were for one student who needed extra support. This important data will help Baseline leaders put the appropriate interventions in place for that student as they move forward.
Office referrals have been decreasing as well since the implementation of culture PLCs, peer culture walks, and consistent leadership data practices. Baseline went from having almost 35 office referrals in November 2018 to fewer than 10 in subsequent months, as a result of fewer category 2 and 3 behaviors, and the ability to proactively address students’ behavior before it escalates.
Looking forward, Baseline is hoping to use data from Kickboard to identify students in need of additional Tier 2 or 3 behavioral support, and to provide services based on a student’s specific area of needed growth. They hope to utilize Kickboard data in school-based intervention team meetings to inform RtI decisions around how to best support individual students.
Pamela also looks forward to pulling additional Kickboard reports to look at behavior in a variety of ways. By analyzing data on a teacher level, student level, and behavior-specific level, she can get a well-rounded picture of what’s going on in the school at any given time, which can in turn inform her decisions for what to focus on moving forward. She’s looking forward to continuing the practice of data conversations, and plans to make data analysis and personal reflection part of the school culture at Baseline. Thanks to their strong Tier 1 behavior systems and the support from Kickboard’s professional services, Baseline is equipped to build on their success with positivity, suspension and referral deduction and continue on their path of improvement.