Positive Behavior Support (PBS) is an evidence-based approach, which aims to enhance the Quality of Life and minimize individuals’ problematic behavior (Carr, et al. 2002). To achieve that, PBS focuses on the development of individuals’ positive behaviors (behaviors that are associated with academic, health, social, recreational, community and family achievement).The PBS philosophy gains insights from Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA; scientific discipline with applying techniques on behavior change), inclusion (all people have access to the same opportunities), and person-center values (new service matrices that are carefully tailored to address unique characteristics of the individual). PBS subscribes to the principle that meaningful change is possible only if systems are restructured in a manner that enables change to occur and be sustained. Instead of ‘fixing individuals’ problem behaviors’, PBS aims to redesign the context (Carr, et al. 2002). PBS gives a more prominent role to the active involvement of the stakeholders in a context.

Specific PBS applications include early childhood, primary and secondary education, juvenile justice, and mental health (e.g. Mitchell, Hatton, Lewis, 2018; Chitiyo, May, & Chitiyo, 2012; Horner et al., 2010).The School-wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (SWPBIS) or the School-wide Positive Behavioral Supports (SWPBS) is implemented in school environments utilizing three layers (i.e., tiers) of systems of support (Sugai & Horner, 2008). The Tier I or primary prevention aims to establish universal behavioral expectations among all individuals in a context. Tier I purports to prevent the occurrence of problem behaviors. It is expected that approximately 80% to 90% of individuals will successfully respond to Tier I (Bradshaw et al., 2008). Tier II is designed for the individuals, who do not respond to Tier I practices, and its focus is to minimize the number of students with increased problem behaviors. Tier II involves targeted interventions for this group of individuals. When implemented with fidelity, it is expected that 10% to 15% of those students will respond positively to Tier II interventions. Finally, for individuals who fail to respond to Tier II, an additional more intensive layer of support is provided (Tier III). This tier includes individualized assessment, and individualized behavioral support plan. The target of Tier III is to minimize the impact of severity of chronic behaviors affecting those students’ lives. It is expected that 5% of students will be need individualized intensive interventions.

SWPBS is a systems-change framework that includes four main elements:

  1. Outcomes: these are the expected goals to be achieved after implementing each tier of support in a school.
  2. Systems: include external and internal supports provided to strengthen adults’ behaviors in implementing SPWBS practices. Specifically, for Tier 1 implementation an external behavioral support coach provides on-site consultation and training to a SWPBS core team (leadership team). Training includes defining school vision and social values and expected positive behaviors, designing an instructional social skill approach to teach those behaviors, setting up a recognition system to reinforce student positive behaviors, designing a hierarchy of consequences to manage problem behaviors, and collecting data to make informed-based decisions with respect to student needs and procedural issues. The school leadership team, with the assistance of the external coach, trains and engages the rest of the schools staff in putting the above elements in place. School administration is actively involved and guiding the implementation process and ensuring for staff buy-in.
  3. Data: pertain to two sets of data (a) student data with respect to problem behaviors, attendance, academic achievement performance, and (b) fidelity of implementation.
  4. Practices: This element focuses on implementing evidence-based strategies to support student behavior. For Tier I, practices include teaching, recognizing, correcting and re-teaching student social behaviors. All adults in a school are expected to follow a common instructional approach to promote school vision and values.