Guest Post: What is PBIS?

This guest post was written by Lori Lynass Ed.D., the executive director of NorthWest PBIS Network, Inc. It originally appeared on the Our Schools blog

You can learn more about PBIS and other strategies to keep classrooms safe while keeping kids in school at the event Stop School Suspensions: Solutions for safe, secure classrooms without removing kids on May 8th at 7 p.m. at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Insitute in Seattle. The event is free and open to the public. Register here.

With an increased focus on school discipline issues, suspensions and drop outs, many people have been hearing more lately about Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), however many people are still not sure just exactly what PBIS is.

Incorporating policy efforts and evidence-based practices from the fields of education and mental health, the PBIS model has emerged as a three-tiered framework of support focused on prevention and early intervention strategies that promote positive school climates and provide needed non-cognitive skills to students. The premise of PBIS is that measures are put in place proactively so that problem behaviors are less likely to occur and academic engaged time increases. PBIS emphasizes the prevention of problem behaviors and promotion of a positive school culture at the first tier and offers group and individualized intervention services for students who continue to struggle with problem behaviors at the second and third tiers. PBIS is a framework–not a program. Schools can choose to use various evidenced-based programs within the PBIS framework.

Now implemented in over 20,000 schools nationally and about 500 schools in Washington, PBIS actually took root right here in the northwest at the University of Oregon which houses the National Technical Assistance Center for PBIS. PBIS is supported as a best practice by the federal department of education and OSPI. PBIS is invaluable to many Washington schools who have witnessed reductions in problems behaviors, instances of bullying and harassment and referrals to special education that are related to behavioral issues. In exchange, schools are gaining back academic instructional time; and staff, parents, and students report being more satisfied with their schools.

PBIS is really about systemic change. To implement it, schools need professional development, coaching and technical assistance support. Many of these supports have been cut in the past few years with funding reductions so organizations like the NorthWest PBIS Network have worked hard to provide free and reduced costs supports to schools.

Examples of How PBIS Has Impacted Schools in Washington:

Komachin Middle School in North Thurston is in year two of PBIS implementation. They call their program the “Wolf Pack” and they highlight giving Positive Office Referrals for students who make considerable behavioral improvements and have the “Howl of Fame” for students who consistently demonstrate the school values. They are reporting their best year yet in regards to student disciple referrals and suspensions with a 49% reduction in office discipline referrals and 45% reduction in suspensions.

At Ridgecrest Elementary in the Shoreline School District principal Cinco Delgado reports that the school has not had one major office referral over the last several weeks. He reports, “It is night and day here with PBIS because teachers now have more tools and can handle behavior in the classrooms”. The school calls their PBIS program the Ram Pride program and they emphasize the school values of being Respectful, Responsible, Safe and Kind. They have also recently started the Check, Connect and Expect program for their students who need additional support at the Tier 2 level.

Want to know more about PBIS? Visit or

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