What Is PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports)?


Positive Behavioral Interventions Supports (PBIS) is a system used within schools to redefine school climate. Yet, many schools across the nation have not implemented any Positive Behavioral Interventions Supports, and want to know the answer to this question: What is PBIS? Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is an evidence-based three-tiered framework to improve and integrate all of the data, systems, and practices affecting student outcomes every day. Research shows that Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports help create a positive school climate that has a safe and supportive learning environment. This ultimately cultivates student success and makes positive behavior the norm school wide.

Implementing Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports into your school culture comes with many benefits. It is a system where all students can succeed and helps them to become responsible citizens. Students are rewarded for making positive choices and demonstrating appropriate behavior and are encouraged to do the right thing when making poor choices. Implementing positive behavioral supports and interventions ensures that teachers and school staff are equipped with the tools needed to consistently encourage students to meet behavior expectations. When PBIS is implemented with fidelity, negative behaviors decrease, and students can thrive and focus on achieving academic results. Additionally, teachers can teach with ease and ensure that instruction and academic achievement are prioritized without the need for ongoing behavior support.

→ Click here for Kickboard’s Roadmap for PBIS Strategic Planning Success!


What is PBIS and how does it work?

PBIS stands for Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports. While this may sound complicated, it is a proactive approach to establishing behavioral supports and social culture and has a clear framework that can easily help transform student behavior and culture within a school or classroom. The core of PBIS is designed to teach, model, and reinforce expected behavior to ultimately build and maintain a productive learning environment that has minimal inappropriate behavior.

A successful PBIS framework will typically teach students the desired behaviors that you want in your classroom or school. As a result, rewards and incentives are a huge component of continuing to encourage students to make positive choices and exhibit desired behavior expectations within their school community. This also reduces the need for office discipline referrals, behavior support, and positively changes the overall school climate. With PBIS programs, students receive school-wide support to meet behavior expectations, develop social skills, and ongoing reinforcement of good behavior. PBIS is not considered a packaged curriculum but is a robust approach to transforming the culture within school settings.

For example, you may want students to actively raise their hand rather than calling out; so, when good behavior is consistently exhibited, you may provide those students with an inexpensive incentive or reward. When implementing the PBIS framework, educators often focus heavily on data to effectively create and critique programming based on the needs of their student body.

What does PBIS mean in school?

The goal of PBIS in schools is to proactively address student behavior and culture and encourage students to make positive choices. This will ultimately ensure that students are meeting behavior expectations and soaring academically. This also allows teachers to focus on instructional practices and avoid negative behavior.

When teachers use and track Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports, there are many benefits. Students are more productive, positively engaged, and develop positive social bonds. This contributes to a social culture that is needed for all students to achieve social, emotional, and academic success. There is also a reduction in problem behavior and office discipline referrals, ultimately creating safe environments within schools. Teachers and students show stronger commitment, test scores improve, and the school develops a sense of identity and community. Some examples of PBIS elements present in a positive school culture are listed below: 

  • Involvement of students, teachers, school support staff, and families 
  • School staff have a shared vision
  • School safety
  • Respect (Students learn how to have positive interactions with all stakeholders)
  • Behavioral and academic engagement
  • Evidence-based interventions
  • Focus on students’ social-emotional health
  • Promotes a social culture that supports students socially, emotionally, and academically
  • PBIS resources are readily available for teachers and school staff

These are all elements that educators want present in their schools and classroom. PBIS helps us more easily develop a culture where these elements exist daily and good behavior is reinforced.

What are the basic principles of PBIS?

PBIS is a proactive framework that fits within a three-tier system and allows educators to easily implement and evaluate their programming. The three tiers can be defined as: 

Tier 1. Universal

Tier 1 supports are those that all students receive and meet the needs of the majority of your student body. This helps you create a wide stream school culture where positive behavior is encouraged from all students and staff members. 80% of the student population typically falls in this tier.

Tier 2. Targeted

Tier 2 dives in a little deeper and takes into consideration students who may need additional behavioral support. Tier 2 practices and systems support students at risk of developing more serious problem behaviors before those behaviors start. This is typically a small percentage of your school population who were not successful with the standard widespread Tier 1 support. These are not comprehensive supports, but can easily support a subgroup of students through a quick check-in or special reward program. 15-10% of students generally fall in this tier.

Tier 3. Individualized

Tier 3 supports are more intensive and provide individualized supports for students who have heightened needs. This targeted support can typically serve as a more formal behavior plan, strategies, or replacement behaviors that cater to an individual student’s success. 5% of students generally fall in this tier.

Through the three tiers, you can more easily implement and respond to PBIS support within your school by implementing evidence-based practices and evidence-based interventions.

What are examples of PBIS?

There are many ways you can bring the PBIS framework to life in your school. By doing so, problem behavior will reduce, and children will be encouraged to make positive choices that ultimately impact behaviors throughout your school. Below are some elements of successful PBIS programming in most schools:

 Consistent Classroom and School-Wide Expectations

This ensures accurate and durable implementation of PBIS programming in your school. You must have consistent and clear expectations to promote a common language among your staff and students, keeping everyone on the same page. When everyone is working as a team to encourage positive behavior, students are more likely to respond in a positive way. 

 PBIS Rewards/Incentives

Rewards and incentives are an integral component of PBIS implementation. It is essential that we reward and incentivize students to demonstrate appropriate behavior. Rewards and incentives are often free and inexpensive ways to spearhead PBIS implementation in your school. 

Read more: Effective PBIS Incentives for Students and Teachers

 School-Family Partnership

Effective PBIS programs have strong family and parental involvement to ensure that expectations and positive behaviors are being reinforced at home. 

 Collecting and Evaluating Data

Schools select the outcomes to target based on data they find meaningful, culturally equitable, and centered on students’ achievements or school-level implementation. This greatly benefits students and teachers by allowing educators to actively reflect, evaluate, and refine PBIS programming within a school. This will also help you determine which students may need additional support within the three tiers.

Read more: Your Expert Guide About Behavior Data Tracking


Among many other benefits, using strong PBIS systems in your school can positively impact student success and will contribute to strong adult-child relationships. According to the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, healthy, consistent relationships can help students to develop adequately, regulate behavior, and overcome adversity. Additionally, the principles and practices of PBIS are consistent with federal education mandates such as the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 (IDEA 2004).

When implementing the PBIS framework in your school or classroom, it can be challenging for teachers to keep up with the many expected behaviors that students exhibit daily. Two things must be considered. First, teachers should clarify which behaviors they believe are the most beneficial positive reinforcers. Secondly, teachers should identify how they will track the behaviors.

Start using Kickboard now!

Kickboard Software has all of the features educators need to comprehensively collect and use data in the classroom. Our apps allow educators to easily track student behavior, which helps them notice various trends to create the necessary intervention or teach replacement behaviors. With Kickboard’s software app, you can reinforce positive behaviors such as student participation, and reduce disruptions or other unwanted behaviors.