Local governments can invest in this strategy using State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

  • This strategy can help address educational disparities and promote healthy childhood environments. The U.S. Department of Treasury has indicated that strategies that help achieve these outcomes are eligible for the use of Fiscal Recovery Funds.
  • Investments in this strategy are SLFRF-eligible as long as they are made in qualified census tracts or are designed to assist populations or communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

Program overview

  • Approach to supporting positive student behavior: School-wide positive behavioral interventions and supports (also referred to as PBIS) is a tiered framework of approaches to promoting positive student behavior. Higher level tiers feature more intensive interventions and are meant for students who require a greater level of support. This review focuses on the first tier of PBIS, which provides universal supports to all students in a school. There is strong evidence that tier one interventions improve youth behavior.

  • Setting clear expectations for behavior: Tier one of PBIS builds students’ social-emotional skills by setting, teaching, and modeling behavioral expectations. As part of implementing tier one, schools develop a consistent set of expectations for student behavior that apply across multiple in-school contexts (e.g., classroom, hallway, recess). Expectations are defined in positive, easy-to-remember language, such as “be responsible, be safe, be respectful,” and are explicitly taught to students.

  • Encouraging positive behavior: Schools implementing tier one of PBIS use praise to recognize and encourage positive student behavior. To promote consistency, schools develop acknowledgement systems to reward students when they act in line with established expectations. These systems may include certificates, public recognition, class-wide activities, a token economy, and more.

  • Consistent approach to addressing behavioral violations: Tier one of PBIS ensures that educators have clearly defined policies and procedures for addressing unwanted behaviors. This creates greater consistency in how disciplinary matters are handled across the school, and ensures that both students and staff have a clear understanding of what consequences will follow particular behaviors (e.g., in-classroom response versus an office discipline referral).

  • Managed by a leadership team: Tier one of PBIS is typically implemented in K-12 schools (though it may be used with youth in other educational or therapeutic settings). Implementation efforts are led by a leadership team often consisting of educators, administrators, and family representatives. This team is responsible for monitoring school data, ensuring students have equitable access to PBIS support, and evaluating the effectiveness of intervention components.

Cost per Participant
$3,000 to $10,000 per school for transition/training; estimated $400 per year per school ongoing yearly costs

Multiple studies with rigorous designs provide strong support for school-wide positive behavioral interventions and supports as a strategy to improve youth behavior.

  • Keep expectations simple: Positive behavioral interventions and supports work best when expectations are limited to three to five positively-stated expectations that can be applied across the school context. This approach ensures that expectations are easy for students to learn, and allows all educators in a school to respond more consistently to student behavior.

  • Use data to guide decision making and monitor implementation: Prior to implementing tier one PBIS policies and practices, schools should conduct an assessment (e.g., the PBIS School Climate Survey) to understand the existing school climate and determine which interventions are most appropriate. Once PBIS policies are in place, schools should collect data on intervention components and outcomes such as office referrals, incentives earned, and trainings received to ensure that students and staff are equitably affected by new policies. Systems such as PBIS Apps may be useful for this data collection.

  • Create structures to ensure consistent implementation: Tier one of PBIS should be implemented consistently across all classrooms and school settings. In order to ensure this consistency, the core planning team should conduct regular observations and provide feedback to school staff. School leadership should also include conversations about PBIS systems in regular staff meetings and offer ongoing professional development sessions for teachers.

  • Involve parents and families: Parents can contribute to the success of PBIS tier one interventions by reinforcing the school’s expectations and its reward and consequence systems at home. As such, schools should clearly communicate with parents about which expectations their students are learning in schools and establish a clear understanding of how rewards and consequences function in the school environment.