Positive Behavior Support in Schools


New Jersey Positive Behavior Support in Schools (PBSIS) is a collaboration between the New Jersey Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs and The Boggs Center, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, NNJ PBSIS is i funded through the I.D.E.A. 2004, Part B Funds.  The purpose of the NJ PBSIS initiative is to build capacity to support the social-behavioral needs of all students, including students with disabilities.

The purpose of the NJ PBSIS initiative is to build capacity among school personnel to create proactive and positive school systems that:

a) increase available instructional time;

b) encourage and support pro-social student behavior;

c) use a continuum of function-based problem solving to address behavior and conduct issues; and

d) create environments conducive to including students with disabilities and behavior support needs.

Research suggests that schools with a positive social climate are associated with fewer occurrences of conduct problems and better student performance outcomes (e.g., achievement and attendance).  Affirming positive behavior, teaching social skills, involving students at all levels of the school, equipping teachers with the skills to meet the needs of diverse learners, coordinating programs, and using multi-setting interventions are all examples of recommended practices for promoting a positive school climate. While a positive school climate benefits all students, students with disabilities particularly benefit when school environments are positive, welcoming, and supportive of individual needs.  Students with disabilities included in general education programs with appropriate supports are less likely to develop conduct problems and more likely to have positive social outcomes.

Using a comprehensive professional development process, NJPBSIS provides school staff with training and technical assistance on the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) framework to result in environments that encourage and support pro-social student behavior at the school-wide, classroom, and individual student levels using current, research validated practices in positive behavior support.  In doing this, school staff are better prepared to positively and proactively address the individualized behavior support needs of all students, including students with disabilities, engaging in repeated behavior issues.

The PBIS framework is comprised of three tiers that include a continuum of interventions to address climate, culture and social conduct in school settings::

  • Tier 1: Universal Interventions that promote a positive school climate by teaching and reinforcing a consistent set of behavioral expectations for all students, staff, and settings school-wide;
  • Tier 2: Secondary Interventions that provide function-based interventions through small group and individually tailored strategies for students with repeated behavior problems; and
  • Tier 3: Tertiary Interventions that use a function-based problem solving process to conduct assessment and design individualized support plans for students with disabilities who have the most intensive needs.

Data from New Jersey schools implementing the school-wide positive behavior support intervention with fidelity indicates reductions in office conduct referrals and out of school suspension assignments across elementary, middle and high schools for all students. Participation in the NJPBSIS training initiative is designed to result in 5 key outcomes:

  1. Improvements in overall building climate;
  2. Reduction in office discipline referrals and suspensions for students, including students with disabilities, school-wide;
  3. Reduction in the number of students, including students with disabilities, who receive repeated office discipline referrals;
  4. Reduction in the number of students referred for special education services; and
  5. Increase in the number of students with disabilities and challenging behaviors who are successful in general education settings.