Whether your school is looking to address discipline issues, increase parent engagement, or to make a positive change, PBIS can help.

Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) programs can have a powerful impact on schools. No matter the goal for your PBIS program, your school’s climate and culture can have a profound impact on student achievement and behavior, so understanding what makes a PBIS program successful is an important first step.

Based on norms and patterns of student, parent, and school personnel experiences within the school community, school climate is the quality and character of school life. The culture of a school is largely determined by the values, shared beliefs, and behavior of all stakeholders within the school community and is reflected in the school’s social norms.

Having clear behavioral expectations for students, staff, and visitors that encourage a positive and respectful school climate and culture are essential to creating and maintaining a safe and supportive school community.i Reinforcing students’ good behaviors helps shift discipline strategies in a positive direction, offering schools an opportunity to look at education not only for how it contributes to children’s individual development, but also for how it contributes to wider social good.

Discipline, Teacher Rapport, Parent Engagement

Teachers are faced with behavior issues and conflicts in the classroom and there is not a lot of time to spend working out these issues. The results can lead to a decrease in academic achievement without actually addressing the behaviors that led to the initial problem behavior. When students are distracted, befuddled, or intimidated, their learning decreases; when classroom distractions are minimized, learning increases.ii With a school-wide PBIS program, schools can ensure that all students are being encouraged and treated fairly. The school determines the rules, student and parents are told the rules, and teachers simply track the students’ behaviors.

All students have the opportunity to participate in PBIS regardless of their academic performance, and they are more motivated when they know what is expected of them. With PBIS, students who need outward motivators are apt to work for something they want, keeping them engaged and encouraged. Students have goals and milestones to work toward while creating a positive and motivating “buzz” among students, parents and teachers.iii

Circle of PBIS

Focusing on parent-student engagement gives both the parents and students the opportunity to know what’s happening at school, which creates a more inclusive learning community where parents help teachers redirect behavior. Having a program that provides a community update where teachers, administrators, parents and students all have the same information, in real-time, allows for the most collaborative effort in educating and raising today’s youth.

Before we can measure success, we must define success.

Alongside traditional measures of literacy, numeracy, and graduation, positive reinforcement of appropriate behaviors can be incorporated into a more meaningful definition of school success. PBIS is an architecture for addressing behavior through the prevention-oriented structuring of research-based interventions and supports in a hierarchical and progressive manner for the purpose of improved behavioral and academic outcomes.iv

An example: Rather than rewarding students who were “caught,” by happenstance, doing the right thing, like being prepared for class, committing random acts of kindness, or wearing proper uniform, having a technology-based PBIS management system assists schools by making it quick and easy for teachers and administrators to continuously reward students for meeting specific, recurring behavior expectations.

PBIS assists schools in moving toward school-wide behavior systems that measurably address the entire school’s progress towards tangible goals. This impacts all students in all venues: the classroom, areas outside the classroom (hallways, restrooms, cafeteria, and playgrounds), and the individual students with challenging behaviors. These systems define school rules and expectations, provide training about the rules, and offer feedback through acknowledgements and corrections.v


The school will focus on three to five behavioral expectations that are positively stated and easy to remember. PBIS alters environments, teaches appropriate skills and rewards appropriate behaviors.vi In other words, rather than telling students what not to do, the school will focus on the preferred behaviors.vii A key to the success of any discipline program is that disciplinary actions need to be clear, and consequences need to be consistently and fairly applied.

Measuring Success

Many schools implement a school-wide system of discipline or positive behavior support without monitoring its effectiveness on a regular and frequent basis. Regular monitoring and evaluation are needed to:

  • prevent ineffective practices from wasting time and resources,
  • improve the efficiency and effectiveness of current procedures,
  • eliminate elements of the system that are ineffective or inefficient, and
  • make modifications before problem behavior patterns become too durable and unmodifiable.viii

The school-wide PBIS process emphasizes the creation of systems that support the adoption and durable implementation of evidence-based practices and procedures, and fit within on-going school reform efforts. An interactive approach that includes opportunities to correct and improve four key elements used in school-wide PBIS focusing on: 1) Outcomes, 2) Data, 3) Practices, and 4) Systems.

Outcomes are preselected by each community. They are academic and behavior targets that are endorsed and emphasized by students, families, and educators. Data can be used to support success or barriers. This information is used to identify status, need for change, and effects of interventions. Schools attain their goals through their interventions and strategies that are evidence-based practices. Lastly, schools must have durable systems that can be implemented and will sustain accurate and durable implementation of the practices of PBIS for the long haul.ix


Measuring Success with Intangible Outcomes

Imagine a Monday morning at your school, with happier, more involved parents, happier, more engaged students, and Teachers who are happier and feeling more fulfilled with their jobs. This overlap and interconnection between the PBIS program and your school culture are mutually reinforcing.

North Lauderdale Elementary School in Broward County, FL, had instantly visible results when they implemented a program to manage PBIS and the line for tardy passes immediately became smaller. At Linda Lentin K-8 Center in Miami-Dade County, Hero offered classroom management assistance by allowing teachers to instantly award positive points. One teacher told Hero that he was,

“…finally able to give a swift and immediate response to inappropriate classroom behavior with minimal additional class time disruption, while rewarding the students who were doing what they were asked to do.”

During their first week of implementation, Garinger High School in Charlotte, NC saw an immediate reduction in the number of students asking for tardy passes.

School climate changes when people are being caught doing something right. There is an excitement and buzz about everyone working together to make school a better place to work, learn, and grow—and it is reflected in teacher, student, and parent attitudes. Through the integration of a school-wide positive behavior system, not only are students having their academic needs met, but they are also beginning to build a concept of self worth, which may not otherwise develop. Negative comments or punishments begin to disappear while positive comments, encouragers, and motivators reign throughout the school. Students surrounded in an environment of “you can’s” and “look at your greatness” begin to view themselves differently.


When there is open positive communication between families and schools, teachers are spending more time teaching and less time disciplining, and parents are reinforcing their child’s school behaviors, providing more support to teachers and students alike.

Moreover, by recognizing, respecting, and accommodating the availability of families, creating a context for family participation through discussion of family priorities and goals, developing and maintaining a team partnership where the family understands the support is ongoing, parents are more encouraged to collaborate with the school.xi

Tools to Measure Success: Analytics, Customer Success and Reports

Success can be measured in many ways.xii While one school measures success through intangible outcomes such as school climate and a quality learning environment, other schools rely on tangible outcomes, such as numbers, grades, and reports. No matter how your school chooses to measure their success, it is important to measure and track progress in order to be successful.

Just as a report card gives a student feedback about their academics, schools need to gives students feedback about their behavior—and show them what the consequence will be.xiii

Teachers and administrators will both save time by using PBIS and its analytics for data-based decisions that will provide accurate, valid, and reliable data to schools.

A 2004 study by Scott and Barrett found that administrators saved, on average, 15¾ days of administrator time, and students saved, on average, 79½ days of instructional time per year following implementation of School Wide Positive Behavior Support, or SWPBS. Luiselli, Putnam, Handler, and Feinbergxiv found that PBIS helped increase reading and math scores and another study found that classrooms using the system saved up to 20 hours of teaching time per week for students who usually missed class for behavior issues.xv

Although additional research is still needed, school staff can be confident that interventions in the primary tier are evidence-based and are likely to be effective when implemented with fidelity in their schools.xvi Administrators should be able to easily see which teachers are awarding points and which points students are receiving.

There are more benefits for teachers and schools implementing PBIS than just saving time. Administrators and teachers will be able to track the return on their investment. They will know whether they are getting the results they had hoped for and why, or why not.

Report fidelity is added when a school wants to support teachers and staff in learning and using new instructional and intervention practices and programs, to have some evidence that the efforts are effective and to make smart and efficient decisions about improvement strategies. Without fidelity data to review along with our student outcome data, schools resort to random acts of improvement. Schools may stop using programs and practices that actually are effective if teachers are supported in using them as intended. And then you spend a lot of time and money needlessly starting over.xvii

It is easy to increase the fidelity of your PBIS program by tracking and maintaining records or reports of data collected throughout the school year.xvii You can use data to assess current status or your students, check implementation fidelity across your school, and what effect PBIS is having on your school community.

If you have access to tools that help you keep track of your records, you could monitor school-wide points, daily school activityxix, and compliance. With a way to track school wide points, teachers, students, and parents are aware of positive points awarded, at any time. School activity records track each teacher’s usage, and you can also see what attributes were used more or less times—and decide if you will keep your plan as it is or modify it. This can also be used as a recap to gauge against the goals set. This is a good starting point for a conversation in school about how to tweak a behavior program and decide what data to track.

Implementing a PBIS program can have a powerful impact on schools seeking to improve school climate, reduce discipline issues and support academic achievement. With PBIS, no one gets left out or left behind; the focus rests on improving student outcomes along a behavioral and academic continuum. It offers school leaders and staff the opportunity to proactively reduce disciplinary infractions and out-of-school suspensions and, more importantly, to build an overall positive school environment where students feel supported and prepared to learn, no matter what their background or circumstances.xxi Applying positive behavior techniques needs to be done fairly and without subjectivity or favoritism. Students generally respond better to a clearly defined discipline policy, which can lead to better classroom management, in turn providing a positive impact on not just the quality of students’ social–emotional experiences in school, but on their capacity to achieve academically.

PBIS trends

Hero’s Focus on Success

Our mission is to help administrators and teachers have a profound and positive impact on every student.xxii Hero software helps schools track all types of behavior and implement programs that shift the focus from punishing negative behavior to rewarding good conduct.

Each Hero school has a dedicated Customer Success Manager focused on each school’s overall satisfaction and success with Hero. The Customer Success Manager is a trusted advisor to the school, offering support, analysis of tracking trends, and monitoring of overall Hero usage while sharing best practices with each school.

Hero quickly identifies students in need of early intervention and allows teachers and administrators to get involved sooner to bring students back on track. Your Customer Success Manager’s goal is to build a relationship that lasts over years, and is your partner in pursuing success, defined by student achievement.

i From the New York State Education Department. A Resource and Promising Practices Guide for School Administrators & Faculty. Internet. Available from http://www.p12.nysed.gov/dignityact/rgsection1.html; accessed March 15, 2016.
ii Harte-Weiner, P.K. (June 2013). Improving Student Academic Performance Through AntiBias Education
iii PBISWorld.Com. Rewards, Simple Reward Systems, & Incentives; Why Should I Do It. Available from http://www.pbisworld.com/tier-1/rewards-simple-reward-systems-incentives/
iv PBISWorld.Com. What is PBIS? Available from http://www.pbisworld.com/faq/#question1
v CTE John Hopkins University. (2004). Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports Tutorial. Available from http://cte.jhu.edu/courses/pbis/ses1_act2_pag1.shtml
viUniversity of South Florida (2004). Florida’s Positive Behavior Support Project: School-wide Positive Behavior Support: An Overview.
vii Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports (PBIS). (2016). SWPBIS For Beginners. Available from https://www.pbis.org/school/swpbis-for-beginners
viii Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports (PBIS). (2016). Primary FAQ. Available from https://www.pbis.org/school/primary-level/faqs
ix Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports (PBIS). (2016). What is school-wide PBIS. Available from https://www.pbis.org/school
x Bremer, E. (2015). An integrated approach to a school-wide behavior system: Effectively combining PBIS and the Nurtured Heart Approach. Available from https://www.winona.edu/counseloreducation/Media/PBIS.pdf
xi Michigan Department of Education (2010). School-wide positive behavioral interventions & supports implementation guide.
xii University of South Florida (October 2011). Implementing a Multi-Tiered System of Support for Behavior: A Practical Guide. Available from http://flpbs.fmhi.usf.edu/pdfs/RTIB%20Guide%20101811_final.pdf
xiii Scott, T.M. (September, 2006). Evaluating Time Saved as an Index of Cost Effectiveness in PBIS Schools. Available from https://www.pbis.org/common/cms/files/Newsletter/Volume3%20Issue4.pdf
xiv Luiselli, J. K., Putnam, R. F., Handler, M. W., & Feinberg, A. B. (2005). Whole-school positive behaviour support: Effects on student discipline problems and academic performance. Educational Psychology¸ 25, 183-198.
xv Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports: Critiques of PBIS. Available from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Positive_Behavior_Interventions_and_Supports#Outcomes
xvi Scott, T. M., & Barrett, S. B. (2004). Using staff and student time engaged in disciplinary procedures to evaluate the impact of school-wide PBS. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 6, 21 –27
xvii SISEP Enotes, (March 2015). Fidelity: Are we doing what we said we would? http://sisep.fpg.unc.edu/news/sisep-enotes-march-2015
xviii Horner, R., Todd, A., Lewis-Palmer, T., Irvin, L., Sugai, G., & Boland J., (2004).The School-wide Evaluation Tool (SET): A research instrument for assessing school-wide positive behavior supports. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 6, 3-12.
xix Hero K12, LLC (2016). Hero K12: Daily Activity Reports. Available from https://herok12.com/resource/daily-activity-reports
xx Dunlop, T. (August 2005) Why It Works: You Can’t Just “PBIS” Someone. Available from http://www.learningfirst.org/why-it-works-you-can-t-just-pbis-someone#sthash.hM2dImKx.dpuf
xxi Dunlop, T. (August 2005) Why It Works: You Can’t Just “PBIS” Someone. http://www.learningfirst.org/why-it-works-you-can-t-just-pbis-someone#sthash.hM2dImKx.dpuf
xxii Harte-Weiner, P.K. (June 2013). Improving Student Academic Performance Through AntiBias Education. Available from http://search.proquest.com/pqdtft/docview/1477860419/59AB7517BD124270PQ/1?accountid=36783