Common PBIS
Questions Answered:

In a positive classroom climate, students are actively engaged in their learning at high levels of rigor. Teachers, students, and other community members demonstrate respect for one another and eagerly accept both positive and critical feedback in order to improve.

Other key attributes of a positive classroom include:

  • Reinforcement of positive academic and cultural behaviors.
  • Clear and honest communication between key stakeholders.
  • Modeling and nurturing of a growth mindset.
  • Differentiating to meet the diversity of individual student needs.
  • Taking pride in the physical classroom space.

PBIS, or Positive Behavioral Intervention Supports, is a research-based, proactive strategy that creates the behavioral systems and structures needed for all students to grow academically and socially. Its goal is to provide a safe and supportive school climate by creating consistency across a school and meeting the unique needs of students at varying levels of behavioral and social/emotional development. At the core of PBIS is the belief that all students can exhibit appropriate behavior.

When a school implements PBIS, it teaches student expectations and character development with the same intentionality as academic content. Schoolwide expectations are created by a multidisciplinary team made of faculty members after an assessment of the school’s culture needs. These expectations are positively stated, such as “Be respectful,” and are then further defined across various settings within the school. Positive behaviors are reinforced through individual and group incentives while more targeted plans are created for those students who struggle to meet the expectations.

There are 3 PBIS tiers, or levels, that are designed to produce a positive school climate and address the needs of students at varying levels of development. All three levels require faithful and consistent implementation in order to be effective.

Tier 1 supports are universal for all students and include rules, systems and procedures, and other schoolwide strategies consistently implemented to prevent misbehaviors from occurring. At this level of support, it is crucial that faculty and staff members use common language and practices around behavior management to ensure the program’s effectiveness. When executed with fidelity, Tier 1 supports are successful with approximately 80% of all students.

Tier 2 supports include systems and strategies built to target a smaller contingent of students that are not responding consistently to Tier 1 supports. These students are more likely to display behaviors that are detrimental to the school community as evidenced by behavior data collected by school personnel. Tier 2 supports include check-in/check-out, small support groups of 8-10 students, peer or teacher mentors, and generalized behavior intervention plans. Assessment of the supports’ effectiveness over time determines whether a student requires further intervention of will continue with Tier 2 supports.

Tier 3 supports are personalized interventions designed for individual students that demonstrate a consistent pattern of behavior severe enough that Tier 1 and 2 supports do not suffice. Tier 3 supports begin with a Functional Behavior Assessment conducted by a social worker or other trained staff member to determine what problem behaviors require support. From that assessment, an individualized behavior intervention plan is created that provides supports, such as personalized student trackers, counseling sessions, structured breaks, and changes in daily schedule. Assessment and evaluation of Tier 3 supports should happen more frequently (daily or weekly) than other supports and should be used to determine whether a student is responding positively or if adjustments need to be made to the plan.

PBIS assessments happen at all phases of implementation and are often done through surveys and behavior data collection. Assessments can range from school-wide needs assessments to functional behavior assessments conducted for individual students.

When implementing PBIS for the first time, a universal survey of current school wide systems and behaviors is conducted. Once implementation begins, periodic progress monitoring of PBIS systems is conducted to determine effectiveness and areas that need adjustment.  

Frequent assessment of consistency and effectiveness of Tier 2 and Tier 3 supports should happen in addition to the universal screeners. Additionally, individual student progress monitoring should occur for all students receiving Tier 3 supports.

Resources that provide PBIS assessments for all levels of implementation are available online. Tools that collect data and analyze trends, like Kickboard, can also be used to assess school wide and individual student culture needs.

Examples of school wide PBIS rewards take the form of tangible items, privileges, and recognition. Each category’s incentives can range from free to costly, depending on the chosen incentive and the number of students who earn it.

Free rewards are the easiest both on a school’s budget and for teachers to implement.  Free rewards are most often earned privileges or public recognition. Examples include:

  • Dress Down or Jean Day
  • Extra Recess/Free Time
  • Homework Pass
  • First Class to Cafeteria/Recess
  • Decorate Bulletin Board/Wall/Ceiling Tile
  • Student vs. Teacher Dodgeball Game
  • Special Parking for a Day or Week

Tangible rewards are also very powerful but usually cost. To alleviate the cost of rewards, schools can seek out donations or fundraise specifically for PBIS initiatives. Some budget friendly and easy to execute ideas include:

  • Ice Cream Party
  • Field Day
  • Free or Discounted Tickets to Events or Dances
  • Lunch from Off Campus
  • Candy, Chips, or Snacks
  • School Spirit Gear (Buttons, Pins, Sunglasses, or Other Bulk Items)
  • Teacher Car Wash (Teachers wash student cars)
  • Coupons for School Store

PBIS apps and other online tools provide the means for schools to assess culture needs, track behavior data, evaluate program effectiveness, and reward students. The best apps are those that help facilitate all phases of PBIS implementation and engage all stakeholders, including students and parents.

We may be biased, but we think Kickboard is unique in its ability to help facilitate all parts of PBIS implementation and support schools in creating a positive school climate. Kickboard supports teachers and administrators in collecting behavior data, analyzing trends at multiple levels, and reinforcing positive behaviors. Student friendly reports make it easy for students to own their behavior data and determine growth areas while the parent portal increases parent engagement and opens a clear line of communication between school and home.

The goal of PBIS is to provide a safe and supportive school climate by creating consistency across a school and meeting the unique needs of students at varying levels of behavioral and social/emotional development.

PBIS strategies that succeed in achieving this goal include:

  • Establishing clear behavioral expectations and reinforcing positive behavior.
  • Prioritizing character development through explicit instruction and modeling of behaviors.
  • Providing consistency for students through faithful execution of the program in all facets of a school community.
  • Tiered support for students at all levels of social and emotional development, especially those who consistently struggle to meet expectations.
  • Data-based decision making throughout all phases of PBIS implementation.


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