Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports has a long name and impressive results. It is a strategy shown to make schools safer--for children with special needs, kids with mental health challenges, and kids who might sometimes find themselves a target sometimes (and isn't that every child?). It isn't a curriculum. Rather, it's an approach, a framework, that capitalizes on the good that all children are capable of. Its results range from improving academics schoolwide to keeping kids from acting out in class.
One of the easiest ways to understand this framework is through stories.
When Dallas-area student Chantal was just 8 years old, she faced a lot of trouble in school. A bright, compassionate kid diagnosed the year before with Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism, she would sometimes get uncomfortable--in confined spaces and with certain people--and it would lead to trouble. A school administrator restrained her once, when she tried to get out of his office. Her elementary school suspended her. A school resource officer even arrested her twice--once at age 10 and once at 11.
Chantal's mother, Angela, wound up transferring her to a different school that practiced a different approach: Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS). When tough situations arose, the school could handle it. And Angela noticed right away the difference it made for Chantal.
At the new school, all the kids knew how to behave: teachers and staff make the school's highest values part of every-day discussions. Everyone, from the principal to the cafeteria workers and students themselves, reinforce the value system. Signs about it are posted on the walls and in classrooms, and kids know the rewards for trying and striving to be their best. Chantal is now a model student, excelling far beyond her grade level, her mom says, adding: "Every child deserves the same chance my daughter has."
These days, more families have kids diagnosed with special needs, and issues on parents' minds include bullying and increasing unruliness at school. As a result, the PBIS approach is showing up as the answer in more and more schools. The research is strong that this really does work. By reinforcing good behavior instead of simply punishing bad, and also giving targeted help to the kids with persistent challenges at school, it cuts problem behaviors on campuses in half.
PBIS is also linked to better grades, better attendance, and lots more students and teachers reporting they feel safe throughout the school day. All of this good happens, at little or no cost to our cash-strapped public schools, because the U.S. Office of Special Education Programs offers schools that do this extra support.
We at Texans Care for Children have a new series of videos on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, with the goal of getting more Texans talking about this at their schools. When that happens, every kid will have the chance Chantal did, to succeed and feel safe at school.
In this first roughly 2-minute video, we talked to two kids at very similar Texas schools. One school is a "PBIS school," committed to following the framework--and it's surprising to hear what a difference the child who attended that school and another one notices. Here's the first video in our series. Let us know your reaction in the comments.
Cross-posted at LiveMom