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Social and Behavioral Outcomes to Support Learning


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FY Awards

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Implementing Positive Behavior Supports in Juvenile Correction Settings

Year: 2010
Name of Institution:
University of Oregon
Goal: Development and Innovation
Principal Investigator:
Sprague, Jeffrey
Award Amount: $1,448,782
Award Period: 7/1/10-6/30/13
Award Number: R324A100286


Purpose: School-wide positive behavior support (PBS) practices are implemented in more than 10,000 schools across the United States. Schools report that these practices have led to a reduction in office discipline referral rates, increased instructional time for students formerly removed for disciplinary reasons, and improved academic performance. There are children and youth with disabilities or at risk for disabilities however, who receive educational and other services every day in alternative schools, mental health, or juvenile justice settings. Researchers have argued that PBS can effectively address the educational, behavioral, safety, and security needs of youth in juvenile justice programs, but to date little research has been completed on the modifications and adjustments to the PBS model that will be needed to be successfully implemented in juvenile justice settings. This research team will adapt and further develop a facility-wide PBS program implemented in juvenile justice settings, where an estimated 50 percent to 80 percent of incarcerated youth are reported to have educational disabilities or diagnosed mental health conditions.

Project Activities: The research team will begin by developing PBS components and training modules and refining them based on feedback from stakeholder (practitioners and youth) focus groups and key informant interviews. The revised components will then be evaluated by key staff members not involved in the focus groups or the interviews. The research team will then recruit approximately 30 staff members for a pre-test post-test evaluation (i.e., change in knowledge of PBS practices) of each component separately. Further revisions to the components will occur based on this evaluation. All components will then be combined into one program. Feasibility testing of the entire program will occur with approximately 120 staff members. Staff will receive bi-monthly training and consultation for one year. Qualitative and quantitative data will be collected and used to make additional final revisions to the program, as well as explore potential impact of the program on student behavioral outcomes.

Products: The products of this project include a fully developed PBS intervention for juvenile justice settings, evidence of feasibility of the intervention in these settings, and evidence of the potential impact of the program on student behavioral outcomes. There will also be published reports and presentations on the findings.


Setting: Juvenile corrections facilities in Oregon, New Mexico, and Georgia.

Population: Teachers, administrative staff, and students in juvenile corrections facilities.

Intervention: Five program-wide PBS modules will be developed: (1) Universal facility-wide PBS Systems (e.g., universal behavioral expectations, systematic behavior teaching, positive reinforcement systems, systematic supervision, instructional and function-based responses to minor problem behavior, defusing aggressive or escalating behavior); (2) Response to Intervention problem solving using data-based decision making rules (e.g., analyzing incident report patterns, youth self-management points, and school attendance); (3) Implementing Check in/Check out self-management and problem solving (e.g., mentorship of youth related to self-monitoring and managing behavioral and academic goal achievement, and problem solving if problem behaviors occur); and (4) Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) and individualized support plan development. In addition, the team will create a fifth module that provides a set of intervention fidelity/treatment adherence measures for PBS application in juvenile corrections settings.

Research Design and Methods: A continuous, iterative, mixed-methods research design involving feedback from teachers, staff, and students will be used to initially develop, refine, and implement the five components of the PBS model. Pre-post surveys of teachers will assess user knowledge, self-efficacy, consumer satisfaction, and use of the PBS strategies. At each stage of development, the research team will monitor and evaluate implementation using observational data and continually adjust components to enhance treatment fidelity, social validity, and potential for improving students' behavioral outcomes. After all modules have been developed and evaluated, the research team will revise them based on the field testing, combine all five modules, and conduct a pilot study of the entire program to assess the potential of the program for improving students' behavioral outcomes.

Control Condition: There is no control condition.

Key Measures: To answer research questions regarding the development, feasibility, and sustainability of, and satisfaction with, the PBS model, the research team will collect and analyze: (a) qualitative data from interviews and focus groups to review and revise module content, assess barriers and supports to implementation and the perceived usefulness and helpfulness of modules; (b) quantitative data to provide preliminary data on links between intervention participation and anticipated outcomes that will be used to guide further program revisions; and (c) process data to track intervention fidelity. Key constructs measured include staff knowledge, attitudes, behavioral intentions (e.g., staff member acceptance of and intention to use the PBS strategies), and self-efficacy.

Data Analytic Strategy: Qualitative data from focus groups will be coded into themes by type of intervention component. Quantitative analyses will be conducted to assess the relation between exposure to the program and student outcomes. User satisfaction and usage logs will also be used to demonstrate the feasibility of the program.


Book chapter

Sprague, J. R., Jolivette, K., & Nelson, C. M. (2014). Applying positive behavior intervention and supports in alternative education programs and secure juvenile facilities. H. M. Walker & F. M. Gresham (Eds.), Evidence-based practices for addressing school-related behavior problems and disorders (pp. 261–276). New York, NY: Guilford.

Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Jolivette, K., McDaniel, S.C., Sprague, J.R., Swain-Bradway, J., and Ennis, R.P. (2012). Embedding the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports Framework Into the Complex Array of Practices Within Alternative Education Settings: A Decision-Making Process. Assessment for Effective Intervention, 38(1): 15–29. doi:10.1177/1534508412454450

Sprague, J.R., Scheuermann, B., Wang, E., Nelson, C.M., Jolivette, K., and Vincent, C. (2013). Adopting and Adapting PBIS for Secure Juvenile Justice Settings: Lessons Learned. Education and Treatment of Children, 36(3): 121–134. doi:10.1353/etc.2013.0031

Swain-Bradway, J., Swoszowski, N.C., Boden, L.J., and Sprague, J.R. (2013). Voices From the Field: Stakeholder Perspectives on PBIS Implementation in Alternative Educational Settings. Education and Treatment of Children, 36(3): 31–46. doi:10.1353/etc.2013.0020