Teaching good behavior

Behavior Is One of the Basics at a Charleston middle school, reports Education Week. Every Haut Gap student spends 40 minutes a day for nine weeks learning how to “own up to mistakes, accept feedback, and apologize appropriately.” Those who don’t catch on take the class for 18 weeks.

The school’s approach, called Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, or PBIS, is supposed to save time in academic classes. It’s also cut out-of-school suspensions significantly.

PBIS . . . emphasizes creating a common set of expectations for students’ behavior, no matter where they are on campus. The underlying premise: Schools must become predictable, consistent, positive, and safe environments for students.

“Creating that common set of expectations is really what creates a learning community. Culture makes a huge impact on the effectiveness of the school,” said Robert Horner, a co-director of the U.S. Department of Education’s Technical Assistance Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports and a special education professor at the University of Oregon, in Eugene.

PBIS is seen as a way to cut suspensions and expulsions, which are more common for African-American students, Latinos, boys, and students with disabilities.

However, a Johns Hopkins study found PBIS helped elementary students with “behavior problems, concentration problems, and social-emotional functioning.”  Not surprisingly, the younger it starts the better it works.

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  1. I wish I had any confidence that we would get back to the era when parents socialized their kids appropriately, prior to school entry,fed them appropriately and sent them outside to get sufficient exercise by doing chores and playing (without adult supervision); government interference neither required nor desired.

  2. There’s probably a fascinating story on PBIS for some enterprising reporter. So far as I can tell, there’s an interlocking web: those who designed and sell PBIS, and those who publish evaluations of it. If it’s 16,000 schools and $7,000 to $22,000 per school, this is a reasonably sized enterprise.

    I dug up one of their randomized control trials. The evidence is much murkier than their marketing. Example. Are discipline referrals down? Answer: We didn’t have good baseline data. Example: Are student test scores up? No, if you look at it X way. But yes if we crunch the numbers Y way, even if Y is not the obvious way. Do we report X and Y in our headlines? No, we report Y — it works!

    And if it DOES turn out, after close examination, to pass the smell test, they deserve to win a higher profile….because the issue they’re tackling is indeed a vexing one.

  3. lightly seasoned says:

    I’m in a PBIS school. It is not nearly as effective as touted. Office referrals are down, but I suspect that has more to do with the better classroom management focus than anything else. You can do that without paying them.