Positive Behavioral Supports and Interventions (PBIS) is a school-wide system of discipline that utilizes tiered behavioral interventions to encourage social and academic success. As with academic tiered intervention, PBIS is characterized by universal supports for all students in the school, coupled with secondary supports and intensive tertiary intervention for students based on need. Generally, 15-20% of students in a school receive secondary and/or tertiary supports. Though the PBIS can be implemented in any school, research on PBIS has mostly focused on elementary and middle school. More research is needed to determine how PBIS must be adapted to prove successful at the high school level. Despite the limited research base, anecdotal evidence suggests that adaptations are necessary to implement PBIS at the high school level. Unsurprisingly, high schools have a range of unique challenges that must be addressed for PBIS to be successful. Because students are in multiple classrooms throughout the day, developing consistent expectations and practices across the staff is essential. Practitioners suggest that non-instructional staff members, including school security officers and cafeteria workers who deal daily with discipline incidents, should be included. Teachers must be convinced to take time to teach behavioral expectations, or time must be set aside to do so when it does not disrupt already limited time to teach content. For students needing more intensive intervention, family members must be convinced to come to the school and collaborate on the individual support process.  There are also a number of advantages that high schools may have in implementing PBIS. Because students are older, they can be capable and engaged participants on PBIS teams, helping to develop student buy-in for the program as a group or to select effective interventions as individuals. High schools can partner with area elementary and middle schools already implementing PBIS so that only limited time need be spent to reinforce existing behavioral expectations. Finally, PBIS can be combined with other necessary programs, including dropout prevention, truancy prevention, young parent programs and other interventions to maximize staffing and resources. Additional support to implement PBIS in high schools can be found on the Illinois PBIS Network Web site. The Illinois PBIS Network has compiled practitioner resources ranging from lesson plans to teach behavior expectation to materials to increase parent involvement. If you are interested in learning more, the Illinois PBIS Network will also be presenting at the Midwest Regional High School SIG Meeting.
Note: This blog post was originally authored under the auspices of the National High School Center at the American Institutes for Research (AIR). The National High School Center’s blog, High School Matters, which ran until March 2013, provided an objective perspective on the latest research, issues, and events that affected high school improvement. The CCRS Center plans to continue relevant work originally developed under the National High School Center grant. National High School Center blog posts that pertain to CCRS Center issues are included on this website as a resource to our stakeholders.