Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports for a Positive Impact on Schools and Students


By: Brittany Miracle

GettyImages-638833102.jpgOhio’s strategic plan for education, Each Child, Our Future, places the student at the center of every student initiative, while implementing Ohio’s four learning domains:

  1. Foundational Knowledge and Skills;
  2. Well-Rounded Content;
  3. Leadership and Reasoning;
  4. Social-Emotional Learning.

Ohio’s commitment to meeting the needs of the whole child is seen in these four, equal domains. By emphasizing the need to equally support student’s social-emotional development, we are committing to developing students who are socially and self-aware; have management and relationship skills; and are responsible decision-makers. In order to develop student’s social-emotional learning, we must create safe learning environments filled with supportive adults who empower students, show empathy and believe every student can succeed.

One of Ohio’s strategies to foster caring educational communities while building the social-emotional skills of our learners is Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS). There is tremendous momentum in Ohio around PBIS. Each Child, Our Future, recognizes the need for a positive climate in every school to support student well-being, academic achievement and future success. Ohio is enthusiastic to continue building statewide capacity to implement PBIS.

What is PBIS?
PBIS is a schoolwide and systematic approach to improving school climate, culture, academic performance and social outcomes for all students. Locally selected interventions and systems create positive behavioral outcomes for students and safe and supportive cultures in schools. The administrators, teachers and students choose the interventions and supports that will improve behaviors and enhance the unique culture of the school.

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports is a way for districts and schools to develop policies and practices that define, teach and support appropriate behavior. PBIS changes mindsets about behavior and discipline. Rather than telling students what not to do, emphasis is placed on teaching students what to do.

Why is PBIS Important?
Ohio schools implementing PBIS have reduced rates of office discipline referrals, suspensions and expulsions. With these reductions, administrators and teachers have more time to focus on academic achievement. With fewer classroom behavior distractions, students spend more time engaging in academic instruction.

Students in a school implementing PBIS enhance their social, emotional and behavioral competence. Students buy into and are excited about PBIS because they are active in developing their school’s social values. They understand expected behaviors in all parts of the school by consistently receiving recognition for positive actions and experiencing predictable consequences for problem behaviors. Students lead by example with a common language for communication, collaboration, problem-solving and conflict resolution.

Educators develop positive, predictable and safe environments that promote strong relationships with their students. School staff prompt, model and acknowledge positive student behavior by setting consistent expectations in all parts of the school. Constructive support on problem behaviors and reinforcement of positive behaviors reduces the likelihood of reoccurring problem behaviors. Educators have more time for instruction and to support social, emotional and behavioral development of their students.

How is Ohio Supporting PBIS?
Ohio’s efforts to expand PBIS to all districts in the state have been recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Ohio has been awarded two sequential, five-year School Climate Transformation Grants. Ohio plans to provide 1,000 training events and PBIS technical assistance to 15,000 school staff during the next five years. Ohio’s PBIS work is supported by the PBIS Network. The PBIS Network is composed of members from the 16 state support teams and staff from the Ohio Department of Education. The PBIS Network develops PBIS training events, resources and support materials for statewide use. Visit the Ohio Department of Education’s Creating Caring Communities webpage to learn more about Ohio’s efforts to expand PBIS.

Ohio recently enacted the Supporting Alternatives for Fair Education (SAFE) Act, House Bill 318. It is one of the strongest state laws in the country to attempt to reduce disciplinary referrals, especially for prekindergarten through grade 3 students. This bill strengthens requirements and supports for school districts to implement PBIS, social-emotional learning supports and trauma-informed practices. The new legislative mandates allow the Department to encourage greater use of PBIS. Ohio’s Creating Caring Communities webpage helps schools and districts understand how the HB 318 requirements can benefit Ohio’s students.

Ohio celebrates the success of schools and districts with the annual PBIS Showcase. Great PBIS programs are highlighted at this event with gold, silver and bronze awards. Schools are invited to host learning sessions at the PBIS Showcase to share information about their best practices, successes and teachable moments while implementing PBIS. Visit this webpage to learn about the process for becoming a gold, silver or bronze PBIS award school or to see a list of last years winners.

If you want to learn more about PBIS or share your story with us, please reach out to the Office of Integrated Student Supports by email to PBISOhio@education.ohio.gov or call (614) 466-7956.

Brittany Miracle works in the Office of Integrated Student Supports. She oversees programs that support vulnerable student populations and helps schools meet the needs of the whole child. You can learn more about Brittany by clicking here.

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