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Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports

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There was a big crowd at a Friday morning panel on reaching childen with severe emotional needs through PBIS, also known as PBS or “positive behavioral supports.”

PBIS is another form of response to intervention. But, while the term “RTI” is often used to refer solely to academic interventions, PBIS is an intervention process for children with behavioral issues. As with RTI in the academic realm, all students in a PBS model are screened, and children who are believed to be at high risk for behavioral problems receive interventions that can hopefully nip such problems in the bud.

And, as with academic RTI, part of the challenge is creating a program at a school that is self-sustaining, and developing good interventions for children who are having the most difficulties. Coming up with good solutions is important—the same research cited by Thomas Hehir in his presentation earlier today shows that children with emotional and behavioral disturbances are still having the most problems in school.

Illinois, the focus of the presentation, has been working with PBIS for 10 years, and still struggles with issues of sustaining the program, said Lucille Eber, the statewide director the state’s PBIS Action Network.

Even with that experience, however, the state has had its own issues with implementing PBIS in some schools. Among the problems noted by Eber:

  • Too low-intensity interventions for kids with the most significant needs;
  • Habitual use of restrictive settings;
  • High rate of undiagnosed mental health problems; and
  • Difficulty in changing the routines of ineffective practices that are “familiar”

Eber told the group that the only way to create long-term change in schools is to create replicable systems and practices. Illinois and Kansas are working together on a project to develop a strong program for helping students with the most severe needs. Some of the solutions they have tried is increasing training of school personnel and prompting schools to assess their own work.

More information about PBIS as a nationwide initiative can be found here. The joint Illinois PBIS project has more information about the joint project with Kansas; scroll down the left and click on “tertiary demos.”

(Thanks to the Springfield, Ore. school district for the PBIS graphic.)

1 Comment


It sounds like you are having a great time! Thanks for covering this.

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