Coming to a School Near You—We Hope

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What would you do if you knew there was a movement that would:

  • reduce discipline referrals by 50%,
  • reduce bus referrals by 54%,
  • reduce out-of-school days by 30%, and
  • improve the graduation rate by 14%,

all within one to four years?

What would you do if this movement:

  • increased family and community engagement,
  • leveled barriers, and
  • created unity between the school system and the community?

The Georgia Dept. of Education is piloting such a movement by taking the initiative to address school climate, safety, and discipline in Georgia schools through school‐wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS).

PBIS is a systematic framework designed to enhance academic and social behavior outcomes by implementing a continuum of evidence-based interventions.

A data-based decision-making framework designed to enhance academic and social behavior outcomes for students, PBIS implements a continuum of evidence-based interventions. PBIS focuses on a positive and preventive system in supporting all students.

This is not just another requirement to pile on educators, administrators, and parents. PBIS is simply changing the way we do business where student needs are concerned—and goes a little bit further in determining student needs and providing resources and supports that are already in place.

This three-tiered prevention model—with a set of resources and supports attached to it—applies to both academic and behavior instruction and intervention.

Georgia empowers school stakeholders to apply this model at four levels that are fluid and analyzed through structured problem solving to identify and inform the needs of ALL students. This occurs before interventions are developed, monitored, and altered based on those needs so school stakeholders can better match the level of support to the severity of academic and behavior need, and then assess the students’ responses to the intervention.

In a school with PBIS… In a school with traditional discipline…
A positive school environment is evident. Staff and students are reactive and negative toward inappropriate behavior.
Educators teach, monitor, and acknowledge appropriate behavior before relying on punishment. Parents and students are provided with the Code of Conduct and the consequences if students violate the rules.
Adhering to school‐wide expectations and rules are taught and recognized. Inappropriate behavior is more likely to be acknowledged than positive behavior.
A predictable, consistent, fair, and equitable disciplinary system is the norm. Disciplinary practices, which are not based on data or research, are inconsistent. Consequences often lead to ISS/OSS (loss of instruction).
The school has a tiered support system to meet the needs of all students. A system for providing students with a continuum of support is not present.
Source: adapted from School‐wide Positive Behavior Supports: A Plan for Pennsylvania

Four hundred schools have participated in five cohorts that were rolled out over a five-year period beginning in 2008. Of those 400 schools, the 200 that have implemented PBIS with fidelity have experienced a variety of positive outcomes, including drastic drops in behavior and bus referrals; reduced out-of-school suspension; and increased attendance, graduation rates, and family and community engagement.

When PBIS is applied with fidelity, schools are able to organize a continuum of resources that are more effective and efficient in meeting the needs of all students. Therefore, putting a school-wide—and preferably system-wide—PBIS into action can improve the school climate and culture, as well as the ability of schools, families, and communities to design effective, safe, environments for our schools. 

The State Special Education Dept. is working to roll this movement out to every school across the state to benefit all Georgia’s students, families, and communities. If you would like your school system to participate, please contact your local Board of Education commissioners, administrators, and teachers.

To learn more about PBIS, contact Ginny O’Connell, program manager at 404-657-9953 or at