Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS)

PBIS is a research-based framework for implementing school-wide systems of behavioral support, in a tiered continuum based on student responsiveness to intervention, to help prevent and reduce undesired behavior and improve social and academic behavior outcomes for all students in a school. The National TA Center on PBIS emphasizes PBIS as a “decision making framework that guides selection, integration, and implementation of the best evidence-based academic and behavioral practices for improving important academic and behavior outcomes for all students.”

Related Terms: school-wide positive approaches to school discipline (SWPBIS)

  • General Info
  • Strategies & Practices
  • Tools
  • On The Ground
  • Other
General Info: 

The OSEP Technical Assistance Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (The National TA Center on PBIS)

The National TA Center on PBIS is a collaboration between the U.S. Department of Education and 11 technical assistance units across the United States, is tasked with providing information and resources as well as technical assistance to assist with large-scale implementation of school-wide PBIS with fidelity. The National TA Center on PBIS web site provides a plethora of internal and external resources for school and district wide implementation, evaluation, research, coaching and training, and family and community engagement.

What is SWPBS?

(2009) The National TA Center on PBIS

This quick summary of School-wide PBIS describes SWPBIS, the elements that it emphasizes, and the outcomes that are associated with its implementation.

Is School-Wide Positive Behavior Support an Evidence-Based Practice?

(2009) The National TA Center on PBIS

This resource lays out the evidence assessing SWPBS and the considerations that may be relevant for state, district and national decision-makers. More detailed information about thisresearch-based approach can be found by clicking on the various links within this section of the site.

Evaluations of School Wide Positive Behavior Supports (SWPBs)

The National TA Center on PBIS

This section of the National TA Center on PBIS website provides summaries of a number of evaluation study summaries that examine various aspects and impacts of SWPBS, such as information on the costs of implementing SWPBS, the validity of commonly used benchmarks of quality, the proportion of SWPBS implementation in schools across the country.

Examining the Effects of Schoolwide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports on Student Outcomes: Results From a Randomized Controlled Effectiveness Trial in Elementary Schools

(2010) Catherine P. Bradshaw, Mary M. Mitchell, and Philip J. Leaf.  Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions.

Schoolwide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (SWPBIS) is a universal, schoolwide prevention strategy that is currently implemented in over 9,000 schools across the nation to reduce disruptive behavior problems through the application of behavioral, social learning, and organizational behavioral principles. This study uses data from a 5-year longitudinal randomized controlled effectiveness trial of SWPBIS conducted in 37 elementary schools to examine the impact of training in SWPBIS on implementation fidelity as well as student suspensions, office discipline referrals, and academic achievement.

Factors Influencing Staff Perceptions of Administrator Support for Tier 2 and 3 Interventions: A Multilevel Perspective

(2013) Katrina J. Debnam, Elise T. Pas, and Catherine P. Bradshaw.  Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders. 

This article examines staff- and school-level factors associated with staff members’ perception of administrator support for SWPBIS and the implementation of Tier 2 and 3 interventions. Using data from 2,717 staff members in 45 elementary schools implementing SWPBIS, multilevel analyses were conducted. Results indicated that the schools’ organizational health played an important role in staff members’ perceptions of administrator support for SWPBIS and Tier 2 and 3 interventions, whereas the implementation quality of these interventions did not. Furthermore, perceived administrator support for Tier 2 and 3 interventions varied as a function of the staff members’ role in the school. Implications for practice and future research are discussed.

Secondary and Tertiary Support Systems in Schools Implementing School-Wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports: A Preliminary Descriptive Analysis

(2012) Katrina J. Debnam, Elise T. Pas, and Catherine P. Bradshaw. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions.

This article sought to address the need to understand the SWPBIS programs and services provided to children who are not responding adequately to the universal level of support. Data on the use of school-wide, Tier 2, and Tier 3 support systems were collected from 45 elementary schools implementing SWPBIS Results indicated that nearly all schools implemented federally mandated Tier 2 and Tier 3 supports (e.g., functional behavioral assessment, student support teams), but few schools implemented other evidence-based programs for students with more intensive needs. School-level demographic characteristics were correlated with the implementation of some aspects of universal SWPBIS, but not with the Tier 2 or 3 supports. Implications of these findings for professional development are discussed.

Strategies & Practices: 

The OSEP Technical Assistance Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (The National TA Center on PBIS)

The National TA Center on PBIS is a collaboration between the U.S. Department of Education and 11 technical assistance units across the United States, is tasked with providing information and resources as well as technical assistance to assist with large-scale implementation of school-wide PBIS with fidelity. The National TA Center on PBIS web site provides a plethora of internal and external resources for school and district wide implementation, evaluation, research, coaching and training, and family and community engagement.
Tools: 

Evaluation Tools for Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports


Process evaluation tools are provided for monitoring implementation of positive behavioral interventions and supports.

On the Ground: 

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports: A Snapshot from Safe Schools/Healthy Students Initiatives

(2012) The National Center for Mental Health Promotion and Youth Violence Prevention at Education Development Center (EDC) 

This report illustrates how seven sites implementing the Safe Schools/Healthy Students Initiative have implemented PBIS. The examples focus on each site’s innovative approach to PBIS.

PBIS Links

The National TA Center on PBIS 

This section of the National TA Center on PBIS web site lists examples of implementation in various States and links to the states’ PBIS pages.

Exemplar from the Field: The Community is McNabb Elementary

The National TA Center on PBIS 

This National TA Center on PBIS article documents implementation at one PBIS elementary school in KY.

Redefining Dignity in Our Schools: A Shadow Report on School-Wide Positive Behavior Support Implementation in South Los Angeles, 2007-2010

(2010) Cadre, Public Counsel Law Center, and Mental Health Advocacy Services, INC. 

This report analyzes the extent of implementation of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) mandatory School-Wide Positive Behavior Support Discipline Policy (SWPBS Policy) in South Los Angeles. The report reveals that African American students continue to be disproportionately suspended from school at disturbing rates and calls on LAUSD to take immediate action to address the disparities. It also finds glimmers of hope for transformation in schools where the SWPBS Policy is being implemented and makes recommendations for replicating effective practices in schools throughout LAUSD.