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by Tim Grivois-Shah, Ed.D., Director of Professional Learning and Community Engagement

Full PBIS implementation matters—-Ready or not, our schools are communities of children and young people needing wide ranges of social and emotional support. For almost all of our students, the basics of Positive Behavior Intervention and Support will be enough to ensure that they are successful learners and good citizens. For others, no amount of posters and stickers will help. They need more, and they should expect us to be ready.

To ensure that your school is ready to support the social, emotional and academic achievement of your learners, it is essential to build upon the basics and move towards full implementation at all tiers.

PBIS 101 horizontal infographic depicting 3 seedlings growing stronger at different PBIS tiers

Tier 1

Tier 1 PBIS teams think primarily about the overall climate of the entire school. When implementing Tier 1, teams clarify their school values, and collaborate to create a matrix that makes their values explicit throughout the school. Then, they create a plan to teach those values and build systems for recognizing students who demonstrate school values, regardless of where they are.

One strong local example of Tier 1 PBIS is happening at Sonoran Science Academy-Davis Monthan Campus. Along with three other Sonoran Science Academy Campuses, SSA-DM worked with me last June to develop core values that applied to all areas in the school. The team also developed a clear matrix what students needed to do to make those values visible. What makes SSA-DM’s approach to Tier 1 PBIS most intriguing is their plan for recognizing positive student behavior. 

Instead of paper tickets, commonly used at many schools implementing PBIS, they opted for a chip. The chips come in three colors, and correspond to the school values. When students demonstrate positive behavior, they take their chip and place it into a container located in each classroom. And, instead of creating a PBIS Store, the team opted instead to create school-wide celebrations to honor every student in the school once students earn a certain number of tokens.

Tier 2

Once schools have implemented Tier 1 PBIS, a different team begins to work on Tier 2 PBIS. Effective Tier 2 teams build systems of support for 10-15% of the school’s enrollment., focusing exclusively on the group students who need more support than Tier 1 PBIS is meant to provide.

Check-in / Check-out (CICO) is the most common Tier 2 PBIS intervention. CICO provides frequent doses of positive attention and pre-corrective feedback throughout the day, greatly reducing the frequency of unexpected behavior for students needing Tier 2 support. Orange Grove Middle School assigns a coach to students who receive three or more referrals within 6 weeks. 

When students come to school, they meet with their coach who provides positive feedback on how to be successful. As students move throughout the day, teachers track how many reminders (if any) they gave them to be respectful, compassionate, and responsible. At the end of the period, teachers provide positive feedback for areas of success, and pre-teach any areas that may have been tricky for students. Then, at the end of the day, students meet with their coach who sends them home with a kind word.

For an elementary example of CICO, click here and see how Grijalva Elementary School support students needing Tier 2 intervention.

Tier 3

Grijalva Elementary School in Tucson Unified School District is among the few schools in Tucson who are implementing PBIS at Tiers 1, 2, and 3. At Tier 3 PBIS, teams gather around individual students to define the specific behaviors that are preventing the student from achieving. Because Tier 3 requires the most time, effort, and resources, Tier 3 teams build systems of support for no more than 1-5% of the school enrollment.

Tier 3 PBIS teams are trained in functional behavioral analysis, which is a way of defining unexpected behaviors, uncovering what triggers the behavior, and figuring out what purpose the behavior serves in the mind of the child. Teams also look at whether past trauma, lack of access basic needs, or other environmental factors might contribute to the behavior.

Then, the team convenes as many of the child’s adult caregivers as possible to create a system of support tailored for the individual child. The team always includes administration, teachers, social workers, counselors and grown-ups from home, and might also include pastors, coaches, childcare providers, and extended relatives. C

Because students needing Tier 3 support may need greater resources than currently exist within a school, proactive schools and districts find opportunities to increase what they can offer students and their families. For example, Tammy Hille, Director of School Counseling for Tucson Unified School District, is increasing access to mental health services for students by building partnerships with Casa de los Niños, a local behavioral health agency, to provide services both within the clinic and on school campuses.

Ready for all our students

CITY Center for Collaborative Learning PBIS Model
PBIS is about being ready to support all students.

When thinking about PBIS, what matters most is building systems and practices that are ready for all students, in all grades, in every classroom. Ready or not, students needing all levels of social, emotional, and academic support already exist in our schools. Full implementation of Positive Behavior Intervention and Support will equip your school meet the needs of all of your students.

To learn more about what full implementation of PBIS looks like, join us for our next PBIS101 workshop on Wednesday, 6 November 2019 at our downtown campus.