Schools across the country are finding that a focus on appropriate (or positive) student behavior improves the school atmosphere, student attendance, student achievement, increases instructional time, and reduces inappropriate student behavior. This approach is called school wide positive behavior support. We are working to implement this district-wide.
Our elementary schools were the first to adopt this approach. The middle school followed and is in their second year of implementation. This year, the high school is identifying their needs and planning for full implementation next school year.
Development of a School Wide Positive Behavior Support Program begins with identifying the problems experienced at the school. School staff, students, and parents are surveyed to pinpoint the concerns and behaviors that are interfering with classroom instruction and the safe operation of the school. The positive behavior support program is then designed to address these concerns through teaching and coaching students and staff. The entire program is developed under a compelling vision of the school that is adopted by the school’s principals, staff, students, and parents and will help to improve the school’s spirit.
There are two key aspects of a School Wide Positive Behavior Support Program. The first aspect is to establish expectations for student behavior. When a student fails to meet any of these expectations, teachers and peers help the student succeed by re-teaching and modeling the expected behavior. Through consistent communication of these expectations both in and outside of the classroom, students learn that they can succeed in academic and social settings. To ensure student acceptance in a high school setting, students participate in developing the program.
The second key aspect is to teach students how to interact with and respect others, resolve conflicts, and succeed in school. This is taught through modeling and recognizing students for appropriate behavior. Just as in the world outside of school, students learn that there are positive consequences for meeting expectations and negative consequences for inappropriate behavior.
Districts that have implemented a School Wide Positive Behavior Support Program have demonstrated improvements in both student and teacher variables. Flannery and Sugai (2009) note that in North County High School (Maryland), discipline referrals decreased from 4,000 to 2,500 and extended suspensions decreased from 56 to 25. The school also noted improved student attendance. Similarly, the Triton High School in North Carolina reported a 59% reduction in the suspension of students. They also reported that based on the amount of missed class time due to a discipline referral, students had 550 more hours of instruction after implementation of a positive behavior support program. West Charlotte High School in North Carolina reported an increase in academic proficiency from 34% to 61% following implementation of a positive behavior support program.
The National Association of School Psychologists found that schools who implemented a positive behavior support program reduced their office discipline referrals by 20% to 60%. Kelm and McIntosh (2012) found that teachers from schools with a positive behavior support program reported feeling that they had the ability to affect student outcomes at a much higher rate than teachers from schools who had not implemented the program.
Fewer discipline issues, increased instructional time for students, improved attendance, and a feeling by teachers that they can truly have an impact on their students’ learning translates to improved school climate and safety, less disruptions in school, and improved achievement.
The district is currently completing a grant application to assist with implementation of this program at the high school. “Assist schools in reducing unnecessary student disciplinary actions and promote a climate of greater productivity, safety and learning” is the first goal of the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Safe Schools Targeted Grant. We are very excited about this program and feel that it will help us create and maintain a positive learning environment in all of our schools.
Upcoming Events in the Fleetwood Area School District
Dec. 12 – HS Winter Concert, 7 p.m.
Dec. 17 – MS Advanced Winter Concert, HS Auditorium 7 p.m.
Dr. Paul Eaken is superintendent for Fleetwood School District.