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PBIS – Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports

What is Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports? Also known as PBIS, it is a program that schools use to improve student behavior. It integrates classroom management, school-wide discipline strategies, and effective academic instruction to create a positive school environment for students. PBIS is one of the areas covered by professional development in education.

sad student sitting on the grass


PBIS uses evidence and data-based programs to achieve behavioral improvement. The purpose of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports is to create a positive school environment, improve the academic performance of students, and ensure safety. In many cases, schools use exclusionary discipline practices such as detention, suspension, or expulsion to discipline students with behavior problems. But studies show that punishing students without a positive alternative is ineffective, and the effect is only short-term. Instead, the approach of PBIS is to model and reward positive behaviors. In a sense, PBIS is preventive in nature, addressing the problem before things get out of hand. As much as possible, students are encouraged to stay in school.


PBIS helps schools develop a customized program that promotes positive behavior and safe environments conducive to learning. It is defined by the following components:

· Outcomes

The outcome is the goal for student behavior that a school wishes to attain. It should be measurable – through behavior data and the academic achievement of students. Typically, the goals are defined and supported by the teachers, students, and families.

· Data

PBIS makes use of data for all levels of decision making. The data includes the students that were involved, which classes they occurred in, the location where the problem happened, and notable trends in the figures. By using these data, schools can take note of their current situation, identify areas for improvement, and evaluate the effects of planned interventions.

· Practices

This refers to the evidence-based curriculum, interventions, and strategies implemented within the school. The purpose is to create a shared understanding of expectations. After a review of the data, practices are introduced through the PBIS team.

· Systems

PBIS requires a team of educators to design and enforce the PBIS system. It is usually composed of educational specialists, classroom teachers, and special education teachers.


A PBIS model uses a continuum of support. Depending on behavioral data and the recommendation of the PBIS team, a student is assigned to a particular level.

Tier 1

Tier 1 is also known as the universal level. It refers to the school-wide expectations that are taught to all school staff. These expectations are developed by the PBIS team and implemented by teachers, administrators or others who have contact with the students.

Tier 2

Students with at-risk behaviors need additional intervention. Secondary prevention provides intensive interventions to support students who are not responding to primary efforts. Behavioral interventions are taught by educational specialists, behavior interventionists, school psychologists, and counselors.

Tier 3

It’s a fact that some students have high-risk behaviors, and they need special attention. Tier 3 behavioral interventions involve an individualized plan of support and a functional behavioral assessment (FBA). The process involves the student with the behavior problem and the people who know them on a personal level. Support is tailored according to the student’s specific needs. The goals are to reduce problematic behavior, increase adaptive skills, and improve the student’s quality of life.


School-wide PBIS programs have been proven effective in numerous studies.

  • In a research conducted by Bradley et. al, over 7,400 schools nationwide use PBIS. Classrooms that use the program saved around 20 hours of teaching time per week (for students who miss class due to behavior issues).

  • A study by Luiselli, Putnam, Handler, and Feinberg found out that PBIS helped improve reading and math scores.

  • Other studies also support the fact that there are outstanding results when PBIS is combined with other best teaching practices.

When PBIS is properly implemented, more than 80% of students reported improvement in behavior. In addition, 70 to 80% of the students have fewer discipline referrals.


PBIS aims to create positive school environments by preventing and reducing problem behaviors. With this program in place, vulnerable students are provided with the necessary intervention and support so they can turn things around and become more productive. Professional development in education can help administrators and teachers design a PBIS program for their school.



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