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Using Implementation Science with a SWPBIS Program

Chris Huzinec Chris Huzinec   |   February 26, 2019

I am back on the road again to share some more of the success stories that partner school districts have had using Review360 to help support their students and improve their approach to student discipline.

I flew into a dreary snowy and slushy Washington DC yesterday to attend  the International Conference on Positive Behavioral Support, hosted by APBS  The mission of APBS is to help individuals improve their quality of life and reduce problem behaviors by advancing the development and use of positive behavior support.  It is attended by Administrators, Behavior Analysts, Behavior Specialists, Counselors, Educators/Special Educators, Family Support Personnel, Parents/Family Members, Psychologists, Researchers, and Social Workers. I have attended the conference in the past and I enjoy catching up with folks.

Similar to the PBIS Leadership Forum that I attended in the fall, a highlight of the first evening is the social hour/poster session where about a hundred other educators and researchers share program evaluations and reviews, success stories, and research, sharing some of the best practices educators use within the of Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) framework.  There are some very interesting posters as well as other sessions.  Along with presenting my own poster I look forward to seeing what my colleagues have been up to.  These posters looks interesting

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Programs that work within a PBIS framework proactively and comprehensively provide schools with methods to establish school-wide behavioral standards as preventive measures, multi-tiered support for students as an alternative to suspensions and expulsions, and data collecting processes to be used in the data driven decision-making process.

These models engage a problem-solving method that uses best-practices to inform instruction so that teachers can meet the needs of all students. Too often in the past we have fallen into the pattern promoted by the ill conceived “Zero Tolerance” policy that focuses on punishing behaviors and removing students from instruction, in other words treating the student as the problem when we should view problem behavior as a challenge that student needs help to overcome.

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Using positive behavioral support solutions, we can help students replace unwanted behaviors with positive ones, and teach them the skills that will sustain behaviors that promote engagement and success.

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This fall I had a very successful poster session at the PBIS Leadership Forum explaining to other educators who stopped by our poster, the effectiveness of individualized interventions that a partner school district used with their students who struggle with chronic emotional and behavioral issues. See the blog if you are interested

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The poster that I am sharing today focuses on the types of supports we give all students in a general education classroom, in the PBIS framework they refer to it as Tier I or the universal tier.  It is the type of best practices that allow teachers to better engage students in the instructional process, and as a recent meta-analysis suggests direct instruction is one of the most successful tools teachers have in their tool box.

Specifically, in the development of Tier I positive behavioral support on Review360 and the implementation with partner school districts we have used methods developed within Implementation Science to better meet the challenges of fully implementing and sustaining our program.

Implementation science is the study of variables and conditions that impact changes at practice, organization, and systems levels; changes that are required to promote the systematic uptake, sustainability and effective use of evidence-based programs and practices in typical service and social settings (Blasé, Fixsen, et al. 2010).  Specifically, this presentation explores how applying information gain from the SWPBIS research, best practices development during prior implementations, and formative evaluation methods are used to improve the efficacy and outcomes of a web-based behavior support solution.

From our own research with the Council of Administrators of Special Education (CASE) we found some the main obstacles to implementing behavioral programs.  

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We collected recommendations from PBIS research on how to improve program sustainability and overcome some of the key challenges to the programs’ effectiveness.  One of the key findings mirrors what we already know from teachers through surveys, that one thing they need the most is training and support in how to better manage behavior in the classroom.  This is at the core of Review360’s Tier I: Essential Elements of a Well-Managed Classroom  giving the teachers more tools to better support their students.

In addition to providing teachers with these best practices, the poster chronicles the other Implementation Science based methods that we are using to assist in the implementation and sustainability of Review360.

Expressly, we examine  the use of the following actions designed from insight gained through our scientific review of SWPBIS implementations:

  • Providing school and district administrators with the means to monitor teacher progress on training, student disciplinary behavior, and the progress of students with individualized behavioral supports in real-time;
  • Using formative assessment tools (surveys and classroom walkthroughs) to help monitor and improve implementation; and
  • Using ecological summative outcomes (office referrals, in-school suspensions and out of school suspensions) to evaluate progress. And expanding the analysis to include specific student groups

It was our hope that using these innovative methods our partner school district could improve student support and reduce disciplinary actions that remove students from the classroom. We wanted to reduce the suspension of all students, and especially those students who disproportionally receive these punitive actions reducing the impact of harmful Zero Tolerance policies.

And that is what we found in our study Results indicate that the program was sustainable over several years and that it reduced overall disciplinary actions for all students as well as for those student groups at risk of disproportionate discipline like special education students and African American Students.

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And as always, we are looking at other ways to improve of program and its implementation. Here is an interesting notion that involves some “outside the box” thinking in order to improve student behavior, reduce suspensions, and involve parents,  take a look!

Tonight, the poster session at APBS conference should be an educational and informative evening that will allow researchers, educators and practitioners to share in the wealth of knowledge that is being collected about PBIS.  If anyone reading this is attending the conference be sure to stop by at poster 112. Next week look for me at the National Association of School Psychologists Conference in Atlanta!  #NASP2019