Positive Behavior Interventions And Support (PBIS) What You Need to Know

This school is participating in positive behavior interventions and support while the students are sitting around a rug on the classroom floor with the teacher reading to them.

The screaming was almost unbearable…

Filling our classroom and making it almost impossible to think… most certainly impossible to interact with the other children in the room.

It went on for what seemed to be hours…

Finally, he calmed down and became open to a discussion.

He began to paint a story filled with bullying, destroyed self-confidence, and emotional chaos…

His behavior that day was his way of coping with the myriad of things going on in his life that he felt little to no control over.

This conversation happened after months of intolerable behavior and almost daily meltdowns.

But we broke through!

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Moving forward, we were able to work on the cause… not the symptoms.

This was great because punishment only amplified the root cause, pushing the behavior issues to a new level…

The method used is Positive Behavior Interventions And Supports… otherwise known as PBIS.

Have no clue what that means?

Well, let’s change that!


What are Positive Behavior Interventions And Support?

My son has no problem tearing apart our house and turning it into a path of legos and action figures. But when it is time to clean up the toys, we are usually dealing with a meltdown.

If you have a child with behavior issues, you probably worry about them getting into trouble at school. We do.

Many schools are using a proactive approach to handle behavior problems. This approach is called positive behavioral interventions and support.

Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) are methods used to identify and support desired behaviors in the educational setting.

The purpose of PBIS is to create a positive school environment where all students can learn and grow. It is based on school climate, which varies from school to school.

PBIS utilizes a three-tier approach

  • Tier 1 – Includes Most Children (80%)
  • Tier 2 – Includes Some Children (15%)
  • Tier 3 – Includes A Few Children (Less Than 5%)

Let’s start by explaining what each of these tiers includes.

Tier 1- PBIS

In Tier 1, a behavior matrix is developed that outlines the positive behaviors they want to establish schoolwide. Depending on the school, positive behaviors could include simple acts of kindness.


Examples of Behaviors for School

  • Walking calmly in line
  • Throwing trash away
  • Use playground equipment as intended
  • Use whisper voice in hallways, library, and cafeteria


When the school staff and students focus on the behavioral goals, the negative behaviors begin to decrease. In turn, teachers are spending less time disciplining students, which allows instructional time to increase.

Tier 1 is used as the universal or primary prevention tier and is considered to be schoolwide. It includes all students, staff members, and settings. It is designed to reduce problem behaviors and helps increase instructional time.

Tier 2- PBIS

Students who are struggling with Tier 1 interventions and supports are moved to this tier. In this tier, the at-risk behavior is addressed.

Support staff uses specialized interventions and supports to help prevent the worsening of problem behaviors. The efforts are focused on specific groups of students and what is causing the behavior.

Tier 2 interventions phase-out hidden causes behind negative behavior and provides support in changing the behaviors.

This tier is considered secondary prevention, which offers group support for some students and prevents the worsening of problem behaviors.

Tier 3- PBIS

Students who are not responding to Tier 2 interventions and supports receive further individualized supports in tier 3. These interventions target students who exhibit high-risk behaviors.

Some of these interventions might include an individual plan which addresses specific academic and behavioral concerns.

The plan may consist of efforts by special education teachers or school psychologists. This tier is also designed to reduce the severity of ongoing problem behaviors.


This approach to behavioral issues is evidence based. PBIS is meant to create a positive environment at school so that all students can learn and grow. 

Studies have shown numerous benefits when using PBIS correctly in schools. 

Benefits Of School-Wide PBIS

  • Promotes positive student behavior
  • Improves school safety
  • Less bullying
  • Fewer detentions
  • Fewer suspensions
  • Better grades
  • Increasing Student Engagement
  • Improving School Culture
  • Building Social-Skills
  • Reducing Office Discipline Referrals
  • Increasing Instructional Time
  • Improving Classroom Management
  • Increasing Family Involvement

And it also helps teachers understand a better way to respond to misbehaving students.

Values of Positive Behavior Interventions and Support

PBIS is not a treatment or therapy. It is more of an outline for teachers, administrators, and parents. All students follow this outline in school, not just in the special education classroom.

  • Every child can learn appropriate behavior.
  • Helping students at an early stage can prevent more severe behavior problems.
  • Each child is unique, and schools should provide many different types of behavioral supports.
  • Research and science-based techniques should be the only type of behavior techniques taught.
  • Tracking students’ behavior progress is essential.
  • Everyone involved should use data when making all behavioral decisions.

How does PBIS work?

In schools with a traditional way of discipline, the teachers will use punishment to correct wrong or inappropriate behavior. On the other hand, if you are in a school using PBIS, the first step is prevention. 

When a student first comes into a PBIS school, they learn about what behaviors are appropriate.

Students are taught social skills, like “how to ask” in different school settings such as the library, recess, or the bus.

Students will be taught these skills through role-playing or specific lessons.

A school using PBIS will have teachers looking for minor issues, and the teacher will try to stop them before it becomes a more significant issue.

To do this, a school must create strategies to prevent the behavior from happening again. 


A Real School Example of PBIS

For instance, children often act out when they are bored or have nothing to do. Some of these strategies help students stay busy at break times using fidget tools or pairing students up with peers or staff mentors. 

Once trying some strategies, the staff members may change something if it is not working.

In PBIS, discipline helps students understand their behavior and that behaviors have consequences. But punishment is rarely used.

What to do as a Parent

As a parent, you want to ask your child’s school to explain their discipline and behavior plan.

A great way to help reinforce what your child’s school is doing is to ask the school what you can do at home. 

If your child has behavior problems, have a conversation with the teacher. Ask what the behavior plan is and how the school will help your child with his behavior. 


What You Need to Do If Your Child has an IEP

  • Ask about adding a behavior intervention plan (BIP) to the IEP
  • Have the school help you understand the intervention.
  • Ask what procedures will happen when your child does have behavior incidents.


Secrets To Creating A Positive Behavior Intervention And Supports System

Establishing a PBIS framework relies on a commitment from the entire staff, administration, and educators.

Identify Behavior Expectations

Each school must identify behavior expectations they want to develop among their students.

The school identifies the core values and decides how those values look in various settings.

Instruction should be included in this by setting-specific actions that align with behavior expectations as well as intentional instruction in behavior that reflects those values.

Assessing Throughout the Year

As the school moves through the year, they assess the effectiveness of the framework. When used schoolwide, PBIS changes the focus of discipline from punitive measures to positive interactions between students and staff.


What Has Been Your Experience With PBIS? 

This design has the potential to create change in a struggling school’s climate.

If you’re a teacher or a parent… have you been a part of a PBIS program in your school? We’d love to hear about your experience!

Please leave a comment below.

Do you need assistance with your child’s education?  

We offer one on one special education tutoring that can be done from anywhere your child! Our special education experts conduct their sessions online!

Get started with a free consultation today!


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Young students are participating in a positive behavior interventions and support strategy in class doing yoga on the floor with yoga mats with the teacher.
Here’s a strategy that can change behavior issues once and for all: Positive Behavior Interventions And Support (PBIS) What You Need to Know .


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