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                                   School-wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) or (SW-PBIS)

PBIS is a framework rooted in evidence based practices to increase behavioral and academic outcomes by improving school climate, preventing problem behavior, increasing learning time, promoting positive social skills, and delivering effective behavioral interventions and supports.  PBIS supports the entire school and is being implemented across the territory.  


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What is PBIS?

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) when applied at the Schoolwide level is frequently called: SWPBS or SW-PBIS; SW-PBIS refers to a systems change process for an entire school or district. The underlying theme is teaching behavioral expectations in the same manner as any core curriculum subject. Furthermore it is a three-tiered model:

PBIS se refiere a un proceso de cambio de sistemas para toda una escuela o distrito. El tema subyacente es enseñar las expectativas de comportamiento de la misma manera que cualquier materia del plan de estudios básico. Además, es un modelo de tres cansados:

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Tier 1 support is significant- in that it -moves the structural framework of each educational unit from reactive approaches to proactive systems change performance. This effort cohesively unites all the adults in using 1) common language, 2) common practices, and 3) consistent application of positive and negative reinforcement. There are many caveats to the training, planning, and implementation of PBIS. Just a few of the features are listed below:

  • Behavioral Expectations
  • Labeling Appropriate Behaviors and Actions
  • Teaching Appropriate Behavioral Actions
  • Observing and praising Appropriate Behaviors

Tier 2 is focused on reducing the frequency and intensity of incidents of problem behaviors for students who are not responsive to primary intervention practices by providing more focused, intensive, and frequent small group-oriented responses in situations where problem behavior is likely.

Tier 3 focuses on reducing the intensity, frequency, and/or complexity of existing problem behaviors that are resistant to and/or unlikely to be addressed by primary and secondary prevention efforts by providing most individualized responses to situations where problem behavior is likely.

Each school in the district is implementing PBIS. Typically, a team of approximately five representative members of the school will attend a two or three day training provided by skilled trainers. This team will be comprised of administrators, counselors, paraprofessionals and regular and special education teachers.  Schools will focus on three to five behavioral expectations that are positively stated and easy to remember. In other words, rather than telling students what not to do, the school will focus on the preferred behaviors. Here is an  example from a school:

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After the SW-PBS team determines the 3-5 behavioral expectations that suit the needs of their school, the expectations are brought to the faculty, staff and students. Consistency from class to class and adult to adult is very important for successful implementation of SW-PBS. The team will then create a matrix of what the behavioral expectations look like, sound like, and feel like in all the non-classroom areas. This matrix will have approximately three positively stated examples for each area. Here is an example:

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Expectations are taught in each classroom. Lesson plans are available for teaching respect, responsibility etc.

Some schools choose to use several days at the beginning of the year to take the students around the school to stations, where the skills are taught in setting specific locations. For example, a bus may be brought to the school and the children will practice lining up, entering the bus, sitting on the bus, and exiting the bus using hula hoops to denote proper body space distance in lining up to enter the bus.

SW-PBIS also looks at the office discipline referral form. The team decides which problem behaviors are classroom managed and which are office managed. SW-PBIS focuses on developing enhanced classroom management strategies to set students up for success. Strategies include teaching and re-teaching expectations.  

Schools analyze data from Power School and SWIS to monitor and graph academic achievement, attendance, and office discipline referral data. Office discipline referral data such as behavioral incidents per day, per month, time of day, specific behaviors, location and by specific student is examined. This allows schools to drill down information to create a precise problem statement in order to come up with strategies to resolve behavioral issues.

Furthermore, SW-PBIS recognizes positive behaviors through various modalities. Schools use reward systems, token economies and “gotcha being good” programs. Additionally teachers and staff are rewarded for using positive learning strategies.

As schools progress in PBIS implementation additional resources and strategies are developed to address more difficult situations.

The above activities are just a few of the steps SW-PBIS encompasses.  For further information please visit:

Using Consequences and Rewards

Consequences and Rewards

Should we use punishment? 

Imagine driving on the road and you are going 15 miles over the speed limit. In front of you, you see a police car on the side of the road. Immediately your foot touches the breaks and you slow down. Once you passed the officer, you felt grateful that you didn't get pulled over. So you start driving more slowly…for about a couple minutes and then you start speeding up again. 

Okay, now imagine the same situation, but this time you get pulled over and you get a ticket. You get a little upset that you got a ticket, but there is nothing you can do, so you put it in your glove compartment. This time you really do slow down…for a few minutes, maybe even a few days. But do you ever truly stop driving over the speed limit?

What does this scenario tell you about punishment? Punishment stops unwanted behavior, but only for a short period of time, typically when the punisher is present. Punishment does not teach new behavior or provide intrinsic motivation to change one’s behavior. 

As parents, administrators, teachers, counselors, paraprofessionals and school staff members, it is our job to shift focus from a punishment driven model to a model that emphasizes what students are doing right. We are working to spend less time on punishment and more time on what students can do to be successful. With that being said, we must first understand the principles of behavior. 

Understanding Principles of Behavior

Behaviorists did not invent positive reinforcement. They systematized and named it. Positive reinforcement is a naturally occurring process that wise teachers understand and learn how to use to promote effective management of groups and individual students (Schuermann & Hall, 2008). Behavior is strengthened or weakened by its consequences. Teachers can often accidentally reinforce the very same behaviors that disrupt the class by paying attention to them or giving the student a desired outcome (getting out of test etc.).

Once teachers develop their rules and procedures they must take action either to recognize or to correct student behavior. Such actions are referred to as consequences and rewards.  Effective consequences preserve the student’s dignity and increase his or her motivation to behave appropriately.  

     Consequences work best when they are:

                          Effective Consequences:

  • Clear and specific
  • Directly related to rules and procedures
  • Arranged in levels of intensity or a hierarchy of alternatives
  • Natural (students not wanting to sit by a child who acts out often)
  • Directly related to the behavior
  • Daily goal sheets
  • Think sheets
  • Apology letter
  • Moving seats
  • Re-teaching expectations
  • Assigned related chore


                  Positive Rewards List:

                   Positive Rewards to Behaviors:

  • Behavior specific verbal praise
  • Non-verbal acknowledgement (smile, pat on the back, high fives & thumbs up)
  • People (Spend time with friends, a teacher or staff of choice, bring in a guest speaker of choice)
  • Activities (Play video games, play a sport game, watch a movie, class leader)
  • Favorite snacks (popcorn, popsicles, pizza, candy)
  • Possessions (comic books, small toys)
  • Positive Note/phone call home
  • Positive Note to principal
  • Student of the day/hour/week
  • Free time
  • Other earned privileges 
  •  Used to recognize and increase the frequency of appropriate behavior (Makes appropriate behavior more likely to occur)
  • Can be used to develop self-managed behavior.
  • Effective when they target a specific behavior and are applied immediately.
  • Serves as a teaching tool by providing feedback on appropriate behavior.
  • Build positive student/teacher relationships, school climate.

Positive Rewards Levels

Level 1- Frequent (used every day in the classroom involving praise, or tokens).

Level 2- Intermittent (more powerful and can be awarded. For example, student of the week/month).

Level 3- Long Term (year-long or month-long types of recognition that students can work for. For example, FUN DAY, shadowing, lunch with their favorite teacher, counselor, and administrator). 


Reward Recipients (students, staff, and families):




  • Teach how rewards will be earned.
  • Every appropriate behavior will not be rewarded.
  • Solicitations will not be result in a reward.
  • Reward for using the system.
  • Monitor fidelity of system use.
  • Signatures, color coding, assigned #s
  • Solicit ongoing feedback.
  • Reward for attending parent/teacher conferences.

Guidelines for Providing Rewards


             1. Immediately after target behavior occurs

St. Thomas

1834 Kongens Gade, St. Thomas, VI 00802
Phone: 340-774-0100

Curriculum Center:
Mon – Fri:  8AM – 5PM


St. Croix

2133 Hospital Street, Christiansted, St. Croix, VI 00820
Phone: 340-773-1095

Curriculum Center:
Mon – Fri:  8AM – 5PM

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