Aligning PBIS & SEL Schoolwide Programs

Aligning PBIS and SEL Schoolwide Programs

The positive effects of PBIS and SEL are most significant when these schoolwide programs are aligned and integrated effectively. Comprehensive schoolwide SEL and PBIS programs should include screening assessments, goal setting, benchmarks, and progress monitoring to track progress towards attainment of goals. With intentional planning schools can ensure alignment of their PBIS and SEL programs.

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports

PBIS, or Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, is a schoolwide system that creates a positive learning environment by teaching students common behavior expectations. Schools focus on incentivizing good student behavior and use a tiered system of support for students who are struggling behaviorally. 

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The three tiers of PBIS are Universal Supports, Targeted Supports, and Intensive Supports. Tier 1 is Universal Supports which are the positive supports in the general education classroom that all students receive to help create a positive learning environment and prevent misbehaviors from occurring. Tier 2 is Targeted Supports which are small group interventions for students who are not responding to the Tier 1 Universal Supports or those students who are exhibiting extreme behaviors. Tier 3 is Intensive Supports which are individualized, targeted supports provided to students struggling with severe behaviors 

Social and Emotional Learning

Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults understand and manage their emotions, build and maintain positive relationships, learn how to make decisions, and learn how to show empathy for others. 

SEL has 5 main components: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. 

PBIS and SEL Program Measurement Cycle

Measurement Collection Tools

In order for schools to align their PBIS and SEL programs effectively, there needs to be a measurement cycle to determine where the schools’ social and emotional skills currently are and the overall behavior of the students. Measurement tools can bridge PBIS and SEL initiatives to align them both seamlessly for teachers and students. 

PBIS measurement is very easy using an analysis app like Kickboard which helps teachers record and analyze behavior data using a defined list of behavioral expectations set by the school. One SEL measurement tool, The Devereux Student Strengths Assessment (DESSA), provides ratings on 72 items in the areas of optimistic thinking, self-awareness, social awareness, self-management, goal-directed behavior, personal responsibility, decision making, and relationship skills.

Reflection and Planning

As schools reflect on the data and plan for integration, they can plan for alignment by matching SEL skills to specific PBIS behavior expectations that need to be addressed. The great news is that the SEL components self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making can be matched to almost every PBIS expectation that schools set. Teachers can match SEL skills like “Active Listening” and “Pays Attention” with a PBIS expectation of raising their hand to speak and not blurting out their answer. 


Program alignment takes into consideration evidence-based SEL approaches at all three tiers of PBIS support—universal, targeted and intensive. When acting on the data for Tier 1 of PBIS, teachers can reteach whole group SEL lessons for skills that students are struggling with or choose specific SEL lessons to focus on per week or month based on the data. For Tier 2 and Tier 3, teachers can use Kickboard data and the SEL measurement tool data to match small groups of students with specific SEL interventions and online evidence-based SEL instruction for lagging skills. 

Continual Measurement Cycle of PBIS and SEL Programs

This cycle of data collection, analyzing, planning, acting, and then progress monitoring needs to happen consistently to have true alignment of PBIS and SEL programs. The DESSA SEL Inventory has a list of skills that teachers can log into Kickboard along with student PBIS behaviors daily. School leaders should build in time for teachers to work with their teams to regularly analyze and plan from Kickboard data.