While the Positive Behavioral Intervention & Reinforcement (PBIS) program has been established in the middle and high school for several years, teachers and administrators recently revisited the program and how it works in an effort to improve student behavior in the classroom. PBIS encourages and reinforces positive actions, rather than exclusively focusing on students who behave negatively and disciplining them.
For middle and high school students, behaviors are tracked on a level scale. Every day, students start out at level 0, meaning the student has shown no behavioral problems. Students receive a warning before moving up a level. If behavior doesn’t improve after a warning, they move up to a level 1, which leads to lunch detention. Level 2 leads to after school detention, and level 3 leads to the student going to the office, going home and in-school suspension the following day.
“It’s amazing how well PBIS has worked,” says Matthew Ballentine, middle and high school principal. “Students are significantly more motivated to behave well than they were before, because they know their good behavior may be rewarded.”
Throughout the year, administrators do random drawings for incentives such as a free ice cream or other perks to reward students who haven’t had any behavior issues. There are also two big trips for all students who remain at level 0 for an entire semester. In the fall, those students go snow tubing at Bell Fountain for $10. In the spring, students go to King’s Island for $20. Administrators are working on more fundraising ideas to make these trips completely free for students.
Students who aren’t eligible for these trips spend the day in the cafeteria with guidance counselors to discuss behavioral issues and how to improve them. Last year, 220 out of 400 students went snow tubing in the fall and 250 students were eligible to go to King’s Island in the spring. This increase shows staff and administrators that students want to do what’s necessary to go on fun trips with their classmates.
In the first 12 weeks of last year, 1900 students were referred to the principal’s office for behavior issues, and in the first 12 weeks of this school year, only 1100 students were referred to the office. Ballentine hopes to see those numbers continue to decrease as the year goes on.
“I was skeptical about PBIS at first,” said Ballentine. “But the improvements we’ve seen in student behavior in the last year and a half show how well it works. I’m continually impressed by the decrease in office referrals and detentions and by students who have changed their behavior for the better.”