Program has positive impact on school behavior

  • By Kelly Sullivan
  • Saturday, June 27, 2015 8:39pm
  • News

Disciplinary action has steadily declined in Kenai Peninsula Borough School District schools since 2008, which means more undisrupted time in the classroom for students.

Superintendent Sean Dusek attributes the decrease to a shift in focus onto positive student behaviors and clearly defining expectations through Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports framework, or PBIS.

Students want to be at school and are more successful academically if they are in an environment where they feel safe and respected, Dusek said.

Voznesenka, Razdolna and West Homer Elementary schools fully implemented PBIS for the first time during the 2014-15 school year, bringing the number of the district’s 44 schools using the framework up to 25 percent.

At the June Board of Education meeting, district PBIS coach Angie Nelson presented how implementation is reflected within the school district.

“The overall philosophy of PBIS leads to decreasing (disciplinary) action across the board because you are explicitly coming up with what is expected of students,” Nelson said.

The fourth quarter Disciplinary Report numbers will not be finalized until the July 6 board meeting. Data from the first three quarters shows the total number of recorded offenses in the 2014-2015 school year on track to be at a little more than 6,000, less than half of the 12,382 recorded offenses in 2008.

Pupil Services Representative Kevin Downs has been coordinating the program since 2008. Participating schools had 101 fewer office referrals at the end of this school year than the previous year, Downs said.

The average time required for discipline is approximately 15 minutes of administrator time and 45 minutes for student-engaged time, according to the June board report.

In total, students spent 12.6 more days learning in the classroom because they were not being disciplined in the office this year than the year before, Downs said.

Nelson said PBIS is effective because it defines exactly what behavior is expected of a student and the consequences if that expectation is not met. Students don’t need to test boundaries as much because they understand what is expected of them, she said.

“That’s what the expectations are going to be on Friday and what they are going to be on Monday,” Nelson said. “That’s what it’s it going to be two months from now.”

Those expectations are tailored to fit individual school sites, Nelson said.

Voznesenka for example, had to define expectations for four-wheeler use between portables, which wouldn’t be an issue in central Kenai Peninsula schools, Nelson said.

More importantly, Nelson and Downs said, the PBIS system affirms positive behaviors.

Downs asks that educators and administration validate four positive actions for every acknowledged negative behavior, Downs said. This makes students want to behave better, when they see their peers recognized, he said.

Schools nationwide utilize the flexible framework because it has the ability to address any student, Downs said. The process is divided into three tiers, and it takes 3 to 5 years for a school to fully implement all three, he said.

Tier 1 is set up to address 80 percent of the student population and Tier 2 and 3 address the remaining 20 percent of students that need more focused definitions and attention, Downs said.

It is a huge commitment for a school to take on PBIS because it takes time to develop, Downs said. Eighty percent of staff must be on board before administration can move forward with implementation, he said.

Sterling Elementary school was the pilot school in 2008, and has multiple administrative changes since, Nelson said. The fact that the systems are still in place at the school with multiple changes in leadership is really a testament to the dedication of the staff, she said.

A School-Wide Evaluation Tool, or SET, is used in each PBIS school annually to see how much the school has been able to implement the framework, and ensure critical features of PBIS are in place, Downs said.

A good score is 80 percent, which means the school is self-sustaining, according to the June board report. Voznesenka reached 87 percent and West Homer Elementary school reached 89 percent in their first year. Sterling Elementary is at 96 percent.

The majority of the schools implementing PBIS are on the primary level, which eventually will translate into more positive behavior on the secondary level, Dusek said. As the system becomes more established, the goal is to facilitate coordination between elementary and middle and high schools throughout the district so that expectations are met every time students enter the next grade level, he said.


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