Skip Navigation
Funding Opportunities | Search Funded Research Grants and Contracts

IES Grant

Title: Examining Variation in the Impact of School-Wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS)
Center: NCER Year: 2009
Principal Investigator: Bradshaw, Catherine Awardee: Johns Hopkins University
Program: Social and Behavioral Context for Academic Learning      [Program Details]
Award Period: 2 years Award Amount: $700,000
Goal: Exploration Award Number: R305A090307

Co-Principal Investigators: Phillip Leaf and Nicholas Ialongo

Purpose: Approximately one out of five children displays disruptive behavior problems and this rate may be even higher among children in urban communities. Behavior problems are of great concern in elementary school settings because of their associations with low rates of attendance, reduced academic achievement, and greater risk for special education placements. Students who exhibit problem behaviors early on are also at greater risk for later school failure, substance abuse, and antisocial behavior in adolescence and early adulthood. Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is a universal school-wide system to prevent disruptive problem behavior in schools. School-wide PBIS (SWPBIS) is currently being implemented in over 7,500 schools across 44 states. It provides schools with a mechanism for creating a more positive behavioral environment via systemic changes in school systems and procedures for handling disruptive behaviors. SWPBIS has shown positive effects on school-wide suspension rates and office disciplinary referrals, but teachers report that about 20% of their students need more targeted services. In this study, the research team will link existing data from the only longitudinal randomized controlled trial (RCT) of SWPBIS with archival data from a state department of education to identify for whom, how, and under what conditions SWPBIS was most effective. This work will inform the future development of screening tools and targeted preventive interventions for children who do not respond adequately to the universal SWPBIS model.

Project Activities: Data from a previous SWPBIS-RCT conducted in 37 elementary schools in Maryland will be linked to archival data from the Maryland State Department of Education. The research team will examine characteristics of students and schools that predict behavior problems under the SWPBIS model. Using a variety of latent variable modeling techniques, the team will (1) identify malleable behavioral, social-emotional, and academic characteristics of children who do not respond adequately to the SWPBIS model; (2) examine the influence of malleable contextual factors such as fidelity of implementation or schools' organizational health on variation in responsiveness to SWPBIS; and (3) identify factors that mediate the effect of SWPBIS on student outcomes.

Products: The expected products of this study include information about the malleable student and school characteristics that predict student non-response to SWPBIS. This information will guide the development of screening tools and more targeted interventions to help schools manage student behaviors in ways to support learning and academic success.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The research team will use data collected from a 5-year longitudinal randomized controlled trial (RCT) of SWPBIS in Maryland and link it to archival student data from the Maryland State Department of Education from the corresponding time period.

Population: Three cohorts comprised of 12,104 children in 37 elementary schools who were in kindergarten, first or second grade at the start of the RCT, and the 3,563 staff (55% general education teachers and 45% student support staff) in those study schools.

Intervention: School-wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (SWPBIS) has seven core features which are described here. Within the school, a PBIS team is formed that includes 6–10 staff members and an administrator, all of whom provide building-level leadership regarding the implementation of SWPBIS. A behavioral support "coach" provides on-site consultation and technical assistance regarding the implementation of PBIS. The coach is typically a school psychologist or guidance counselor who has prior experience working with PBIS and conducting functional behavioral assessments. Expectations for positive student behavior are defined and known by staff and students. The school team establishes 3–5 positively stated school-wide expectations for student behavior (e.g., "Be respectful, responsible, and ready to learn"), which are posted in all school settings. Defined behavioral expectations are taught to all students. A school-wide system is developed to reward students who exhibit the expected positive behaviors. An agreed upon system is created to respond to behavioral violations. Staff and administrators agree on what constitutes classroom versus office-managed discipline problems, and students across all classrooms receive consistent consequences for disciplinary infractions. A formal system for data-based decision-making is developed to collect, analyze, and use disciplinary data.

Research Design and Methods: Existing data from the SWPBIS-RCT will be linked to archival student-level disciplinary and academic data from the Maryland State Department of Education. The RCT was a 5-year study funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-National Institute of Mental Health involving 37 elementary schools, 21 randomly assigned to implement SWPBIS and 16 randomly assigned to a control group. Data were collected from all students in the school building during the first and last year of the RCT, and annually on three cohorts of children who were in kindergarten, first and second grade when the RCT began. Using the linked data sets, the research team will examine multiple indicators of non-response to SWPBIS at the student level (educational or disciplinary problems and service use or need for services) and at the school level (implementation quality and organizational health).

Control Condition: There is no control condition.

Key Measures: Information about implementation quality, school context, and student demographics and behavior are available from the RCT. SWPBIS implementation quality was measured using the School-Wide Evaluation Tool. The school environment was assessed using the Organizational Health Inventory, the School Climate Survey, and the Student Interaction in Specific Setting observation instrument. Classroom teachers participating in the RCT completed the Teacher-Report of Student Aggressive/Disruptive Behavior, Concentration Problems, and Prosocial Behavior (TOCA-C), a checklist version of the Teacher Observation of Classroom Adaptation. In addition to measuring these three specific classroom behaviors, the TOCA-C also includes items that measure teacher report of office discipline referrals (ODRs) and students' need for counseling and special education services, and asks teachers to make a global rating of each student's academic performance. ODRs were also measured by each school using the Internet-based School-Wide Information System. Three types of student-level data will be obtained from the MSDE for this study. Academic performance will be assessed using reading and math scores from the Maryland School Assessment administered in third, fourth and fifth grade, report card grades, and information about annual grade promotion/retention. Discipline problems will be assessed using individual students' official records of suspensions. Special education service use will be assessed using official records of Individual Education Plans.

Data Analytic Strategy: The primary analytic tool is latent variable modeling, a type of structural equation modeling (SEM). A variety of longitudinal modeling procedures will be performed as appropriate for each research question, including latent class/profile analysis, SEM with dichotomous outcomes, general growth mixture modeling, receiver operator curves, survival analysis, and multilevel modeling.

Publications from this project:

Bottiani, J., and Bradshaw, C.P. (in press). Social-emotional learning. In E. Anderman and J. Hattie (Eds). International Handbook of Student Achievement. New York: Routledge.

Bottiani, J., Bradshaw, C.P., Rosenberg, M., Hershfeldt, P., Pell, K., and Debnam, K.J. (in press). The Double Check Model In A Response To Intervention Framework: Culturally Responsive Practices For Students With Learning Disabilities. Insights on Learning Disabilities.

Bradshaw, C.P., and Haynes, K.T. (2012). Building A Science Of Partnership-Focused Research: Forging and Sustaining Partnerships To Support Child Mental Health Prevention and Services Research. Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research, 39( 4): 221–224.

Bradshaw, C.P., and Leaf, P.J. (in press). Examining The Association Between Implementation and Outcomes: State-Wide Scale-Up Of School-Wide Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports. Journal of Behavioral Health Services and Research.

Bradshaw, C.P., and Pas, E.T. (2011). A State-Wide Scale-Up Of School-Wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS): Developing Systems To Support and Assess Adoption, Implementation, and Outcomes. School Psychology Review, 40:530–548. Received honorable mention for Paper of the Year by National Association of School Psychologists.

Bradshaw, C.P., and Waasdorp, T. (2009). Measuring and Changing A 'Culture Of Bullying.'. School Psychology Review, 38 (3): 356–361.

Bradshaw, C.P., Bottiani, J., Osher, D., Weissberg, R., and Sugai, G. (in press). Integrating Positive Behavior Supports and Social Emotional Learning. In Weist, M.D., Lever, N.A., Bradshaw, C.P., and Owens, J. (Eds.). Handbook of School Mental Health: Advancing Practice and Research (second edition). New York: Springer.

Bradshaw, C.P., Goldweber, A., Fishbein, D., and Greenberg, M.T. (2012). Infusing Developmental Neuroscience Into School-Based Preventive Interventions: Implications and Future Directions. Journal Of Adolescent Health, 51 (2, Suppl): S41–S47.

Bradshaw, C.P., Mitchell, M.M., O'Brennan, L.M., and Leaf, P.J. (2010). Multilevel Exploration of Factors Contributing to the Overrepresentation of Black Students in Office Disciplinary Referrals. Journal of Educational Psychology, 102 (2): 508–520.

Bradshaw, C.P., Pas, E., Barrett, S., Bloom, J., Hershfeldt, P., Alexander, A., McKenna, M., and Leaf, P. (2012). A State-Wide Partnership To Promote Safe and Supportive Schools: The PBIS Maryland Initiative. Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research, 39(4), 225–237.

Bradshaw, C.P., Pas, E.T., Goldweber, A., Rosenberg, M. S., and Leaf, P. J. (2012). Integrating School-Wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports With Tier 2 Coaching To Student Support Teams: The PBIS Model. Advances In School Mental Health Promotion, 5 (3): 177–193.

Bradshaw, C.P., Waasdorp, T.E, and Leaf, P.J. (in press). The Impact Of School-Wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (SWPBIS) On Behavior Problems. Pediatrics.

Debnam, K.J., Pas, E.T., and Bradshaw, C.P. (2012). Secondary and Tertiary Support Systems In Schools Implementing School-wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports: A Preliminary Descriptive Analysis. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 14:142–152.

Debnam, K.J., Pas, E.T., and Bradshaw, C.P. (in press). Factors Influencing Staff Perceptions Of Support For Secondary and Tertiary Support Interventions. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders.

Domitrovich, C.E., Bradshaw, C.P., Greenberg, M.T., Embry, D., Poduska, J.M., and Ialongo, N.S. (2010). Integrated Models of School-Based Prevention: Logic and Theory. Psychology in the Schools, 47 (1): 71–88.

Duong, J., and Bradshaw, C.P. (in press). Using The Extended Parallel Process Model To Examine Teachers' Likelihood Of Intervening In Bullying. Journal of School Health.

Goldweber, A., Waasdorp, T. E., and Bradshaw, C.P. (in press). Examining The Link Between Bullying Profiles and Perceptions Of School Climate: A Latent Class Approach. Journal of School Psychology.

Hershfeldt, P.A., Pell, K., Sechrest, R., Pas, E.T., and Bradshaw, C.P. (2012). Lessons Learned Coaching Teachers In Behavior Management: The Pbisplus Coaching Model. Journal Of Educational and Psychological Consultation, 22 (4): 280–299.

Hershfeldt, P.A., Rosenberg, M., and Bradshaw, C.P. (2010). Function-Based Thinking: A Multi-Tiered Decision Making Model For Addressing Student Behavior Problems. Beyond Behavior, 19 (3): 12–21.

Mendelson, T., Pas, E.T., Bradshaw, C.P., Leis, J., Leaf, P.J., and Rebok, G. (2012). The Logic and Practice Of Prevention. In W. Eaton (Ed.), Public Mental Health (pp. 459–509). New York: Oxford.

Mitchell, M.M., Bradshaw, C.P., and Leaf, P.J. (2010). Student and Teacher Perceptions Of School Climate: A Multilevel Exploration Of Patterns Of Discrepancy. Journal of School Health, 80 (6): 271–279.

Pas, E.T., and Newman, D.L. (in press). Teacher Mentoring, Coaching, and Consultation. In J.A.C. Hattie and anderman, E.M. (Eds.), International Handbook of Student Achievement. Routledge Publishing Company.

Pas, E.T., Bradshaw, C.P., and Mitchell, M.M. (2011). Examining The Validity Of Office Discipline Referrals As An Indicator Of Student Behavior Problems. Psychology in the Schools, 48:541–555.

Pas, E.T., Bradshaw, C.P., and Cash, A. (in press). Coaching Classroom-Based Preventive Interventions. In M. Weist, N. Lever, C.Bradshaw, and J. Owens (Eds.). Handbook of School Mental Health, Second Edition. Springer.

Pas, E.T., Bradshaw, C.P., and Hershfeldt, P.A. (2012). Teacher- and School-Level Predictors Of Teacher Efficacy and Burnout: Identifying Potential Areas Of Support. Journal of School Psychology, 50(1):129–145.

Pas, E.T., Bradshaw, C.P., Hershfeldt, P.A., and Leaf, P.J. (2010). A Multilevel Exploration of the Influence of Teacher Efficacy and Burnout on Response to Student Problem Behavior and School-Based Service School Use. School Psychology Quarterly, 25: 13–27.

Stuart, E., Cole, S., Bradshaw, C.P., and Leaf, P.J. (2011). The Use Of Propensity Scores To Assess The Generalizability Of Results From Randomized Trials. The Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Series A, 174 (2): 369–386.

Sullivan, T., and Bradshaw, C.P. (in press). Introduction To The Special Issue Of Behavioral Disorders: Serving The Needs Of Youth With Disabilities Through School-Based Violence Prevention Efforts. Behavioral Disorders.

Waasdorp, T.E, Bradshaw, C.P., and Leaf, P.J. (2012). The Impact Of School-Wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (SWPBIS) On Bullying and Peer Rejection. Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, 166 (2): 149–156.