Positive Behavior Interventions & Supports (PBIS) What is PBIS?

Unfortunately, no magic wand single-handedly works to remove the barriers to learning that occur when behaviors are disrupting the learning community. The climate of each learning community is different; therefore, a “one size fits all” approach is less effective than interventions based on the needs of each school.

One of the foremost advances in school-wide discipline is the emphasis on school-wide systems of support that include proactive strategies for defining, teaching, and supporting appropriate student behaviors to create positive school environments. Instead of using a piecemeal approach of individual behavioral management plans, a continuum of positive behavior support for all students within a school is implemented in areas including the classroom and non-classroom settings (such as hallways, buses, and restrooms).

Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is a proactive approach to establishing the behavioral supports and social culture and needed for all students in a school to achieve social, emotional and academic success. Attention is focused on creating and sustaining primary (school-wide), secondary (classroom), and tertiary (individual) systems of support that improve lifestyle results (personal, health, social, family, work, recreation) for all youth by making targeted misbehavior less effective, efficient, and relevant, and desired behavior more functional.

The following diagram illustrates the multi-level approach offered to all students in the school. These group depictions represent systems of support not children:

PBIS Pyramid


Why is it so important to focus on teaching positive social behaviors?

Frequently, the question is asked, “Why should we have to teach kids to be good? They already know what they are supposed to do. Why can we not just expect good behavior?” In the past, school-wide discipline has focused mainly on reacting to specific student misbehavior by implementing punishment-based strategies including reprimands, loss of privileges, office referrals, suspensions, and expulsions. Research has shown that the implementation of punishment, especially when it is used inconsistently and in the absence of other positive strategies, is ineffective. Introducing, modeling, and reinforcing positive social behavior is an important step of a student’s educational experience. Teaching behavioral expectations and rewarding students for following them is a much more positive approach than waiting for misbehavior to occur before responding. The purpose of school-wide PBIS is to establish a climate in which appropriate behavior is the norm.

PBIS System

  *  Outcomes: academic and behavior targets that are endorsed and emphasized by students, families, and educators. (What is important to each particular learning community?)
  * Practices: interventions and strategies that are evidence based. (How will you reach the goals?)
  * Data: information that is used to identify status, need for change, and effects of interventions. (What data will you use to support your success or barriers?)
  * Systems: supports that are needed to enable the accurate and durable implementation of the practices of PBS. (What durable systems can be implemented that will sustain this over the long haul?)


Data-Based Decision-Making

Data-based decision-making aligns curricular instruction and behavioral supports to student and staff needs.  Schools applying PBIS begin by establishing clear expectations for behavior that are taught, modeled, and reinforced across all settings and by all staff.  This provides a host environment that supports the adoption and sustained use of effective academic and social/emotional instruction.  PBIS has proven its effectiveness and efficiency as an Evidence-Based Practice. (Sugai & Horner, 2007).


Goals of the San Jose Unified PBIS Network

The mission of the San Jose Unified PBIS Network is to build skills and capacity of PBIS district and school-based leadership teams through training, coaching and technical assistance.  Initially, we have started PBIS implementations in all of our middle schools and a focus group of 10 elementary schools meeting the readiness requirements.  Our district goal is to ultimately expand PBIS to all elementary schools. Our focus is assisting schools in developing structures for teaching expected behaviors and social skills, creating student behavioral and academic support systems, and applying data-based decision-making to discipline, academics, and social/emotional learning at the school, district, regional and state levels.  The San Jose Unified PBIS Network promotes family and community involvement at all levels of implementation.

1. Increase data-based decision-making about behavior and academic instruction and reinforcement across all school settings.
2. Increase consistent use and effect of research-based behavioral and academic instructional strategies among all school staff at school-wide, classroom and individual student levels.
3. Reduce use of reactive discipline measures in schools (e.g. office discipline referrals, detentions, suspensions, expulsions) for all students.
4. Increase academic achievement levels of students.
5. Implement effective intervention plans for students with the most comprehensive behavioral/emotional needs that support and evaluate their success across home, school, and community.
6. Increase capacity of general education settings to successfully educate students with disabilities and prevent academic/social failures of all students

What is PBIS?.pdf