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Impacts of a Violence Prevention Program for Middle Schools: Findings After 3 Years of Implementation

NCEE 2011-4017
May 2011

The Whole-School Intervention: Best Behavior Program

Best Behavior (Sprague and Golly 2005) provides a standardized staff development program that is designed to develop and administer effective school rules and discipline policies at both schoolwide and classroom levels to decrease school violence and antisocial behavior. The complete Best Behavior program is designed to be implemented on an approximately 3-year timeline, as individual school capacity dictates. The program is implemented by a school management team made up of teachers and administrators. Best Behavior involves intervention strategies at the school and classroom levels, including the following:

  • review and refinement of school discipline policies;
  • use of positive reinforcement and recognition for prosocial behaviors, both schoolwide and in individual classrooms;
  • clarification and teaching of behavioral expectations for student behaviors; and
  • systematic collection and review of patterns of discipline referrals to guide decisionmaking and planning.

The Best Behavior management team is expected to create a systematic approach to developing schoolwide positive behavior supports. This approach includes four broad sets of activities, the first three of which should be implemented beginning in the first year. First, the team is to conduct a schoolwide needs assessment to identify reasonable goals. Needs assessments are to be repeated annually. Second, the team is to define rules and expectations, with general rules (e.g., be safe, be respectful, be responsible) supported with expectations for all settings within the school environment. Rules and expectations are to be taught on a regular basis by all teachers and staff. Third, the team is to develop and support a positive behavior reinforcement system in which students are to be given token rewards for obeying rules and meeting expectations. Finally, in the second year of program implementation, the team is to develop a data-based decisionmaking process for identifying and addressing the needs of high-risk students.

During annual training, Best Behavior prompts each school to develop its own specific strategies for achieving goals and objectives for each year while specifying the particular components that schools must implement. Best Behavior provides training on typical program implementation to enable each team to implement the various components specific to the needs of its individual school. For example, a sample lesson plan for teaching "be respectful" is provided, but teams are encouraged to adapt this prototype lesson to fit the language and unique cultural features of their school. As another example, all schools develop a reinforcement system, but the nature of the reinforcement system varies across schools (e.g., pizza parties vs. field trips). Therefore, while all schools implement each component of the program, the specific nature of the activities varies by school.

Best Behavior was adapted to reinforce and complement the RiPP curriculum. As part of the integration with RiPP, Best Behavior recommended that a RiPP teacher be included on the school management team. In addition, Best Behavior trainings included a review of RiPP concepts and encouraged team members to think about ways of reinforcing these concepts schoolwide. RiPP lessons also reinforced Best Behavior concepts, such as the school rules.