PBIS offers three tiers of behavioral supports to students. In the first tier, behavioral expectations are established and taught to all students. In the second tier, students needing additional support are offered group level interventions. Students needing significant support for behavioral challenges are provided evidence-based interventions tailored specifically to their needs in the third tier.

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports Tier Chart
What is Tier 1 (Universal) Primary Prevention?

Tier 1 supports are intended for all students in the school. The core components of prevention include setting clear behavioral expectations, creating an acknowledgment system to reinforce desired behaviors, and developing a system for addressing misbehavior. A PBIS school will have a Universal Building Team that guides the school in implementing PBIS to fidelity.

Behavioral Expectations

Creating clear expectations is the first step in developing a school-wide PBIS program. The Universal System consists of rules, routines, and physical arrangements that are developed and taught by school staff to prevent problem behavior. Research indicates that 3-5 behavioral expectations that are positively stated, easy to remember, and significant to the individual school are best. A visitor should be able to walk into the school and ask ten random students to name their school’s behavioral expectations and at least 80% of the students should be able to state what they are and give examples of what they look like in action.

School-Wide Matrix

A school-wide matrix lists the general behavioral expectations and specific expectations for various settings within the school. The settings chosen for the matrix are areas where the behaviors can be taught, modeled, practiced, and observed. The matrix provides a clear visual of all school-wide behavioral rules/expectations.

Teaching Appropriate Behavioral Expectations

It is necessary to teach the school-wide expected behaviors to all students. Practices include:

  • Kick-Off and Booster Events – The Universal Building Team designs kick-off and booster events to teach the expected behaviors to staff, students, and families.
  • Cool Tool Lessons – Another method used to teach appropriate behavioral actions are Cool Tool Lessons. These are behavioral lesson plans that define, teach, model, and practice desirable behaviors.
  • Assemblies – All-school assemblies help improve the school climate by reinforcing behavioral expectations and celebrating the positive school community.
  • An Acknowledgment System – An acknowledgment system is a systematic approach for observing and reinforcing expected behaviors. The system provides for immediate (high-frequency), intermittent (unpredictable), and long-term (quarterly) ways of acknowledging desired behaviors.
  • System for Addressing Misbehavior – PBIS schools have a system in place for addressing misbehavior. Having a school-wide system provides accurate monitoring of behavior and consistent interventions for misbehavior. The system for addressing misbehavior includes strategies for re-teaching desired behaviors and an Office Discipline Referral (ODR) process.
    • The Role of Re-Teaching – Re-teaching students the appropriate behaviors is an efficient and effective way of encouraging positive behaviors. Immediate re-teaching requires a staff member to interrupt the undesirable behavior, define and model the replacement behavior, and have the student practice it. After a student models the appropriate behavior, positive reinforcement increases the chance of the appropriate behavior continuing.
    • Office Discipline Referral (ODR) Process– Office Discipline Referrals (ODR) monitor problem behaviors. Minor behaviors are teacher-managed behaviors. This means that the teacher intervenes by following the process that buildings have determined. Major problem behaviors are office-managed behaviors. This means that the administrator intervenes by following the process that the building has determined.

Primary Prevention is effective for at least 80% of all students in a given school (based upon criterion of the number of students who have one or fewer office discipline referrals per month). But obviously, no intervention works across the board for all students. For a variety of reasons, some students do not respond to the kinds of efforts that make up Primary Prevention, just as some children do not respond to initial teaching of academic subjects. Some children need additional support to encourage positive behaviors.

One of the core components of PBIS is data-based decision-making. There are various data tools used to assess and evaluate the effectiveness of Primary Prevention. The tools used include School-Wide Information Systems (SWIS) and various PBIS Assessments. The Universal Building Team uses a data system to measure the effectiveness of the primary supports in the building.

SWIS: School-Wide Information Systems The School-Wide Information Systems (SWIS) data program has been adopted by the Sheboygan Area School District as the tool for collecting data. All information from discipline referrals is entered into the SWIS program. With this information in the system, the Universal Building Team can easily access the “Big Five” data sources. The “Big Five” include:

  • Average referrals per day per month
  • Referrals by problem behavior
  • Referrals by location
  • Referrals by time
  • Referrals by student

This information is used to analyze the Primary Prevention systems and evaluate whether or not they are working (80% of students should be responding to the Universal Tier) to help guide school-wide initiatives and action plans, to identify students in need of Tier 2 Interventions and Supports. The “Big Five” data and decisions related to data are shared at staff meetings on a monthly basis.

For details about how Tier 1 (Universal) Primary Prevention looks in each implementing school, refer to the PBIS link for the school.