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Schools See Gains From Positive Behavior Approach


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A first-of-its-kind study looking at a widely-used program designed to improve behavior finds that the strategy is proving effective for students with and without disabilities.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins compared the experiences of students at 21 schools using the program known as School-Wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, or SWPBIS, to kids at 16 schools that did not use the program over four years.

They found that there were significant improvements in behavior, concentration, social-emotional functioning and pro-social behaviors at schools using the method. What’s more, implementing SWPBIS led to a dramatic reduction in the number of disciplinary referrals to the school office, according to the study published online this week in the journal Pediatrics.

“These results are among the first to document significant impacts of the program on children’s problem behaviors, as well as positive behaviors, across multiple years as a result of SWPBIS,” said Catherine Bradshaw of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health who led the study.

More than 16,000 schools across the country currently use SWPBIS, researchers said. The program focuses on improving student behavior by establishing positive expectations for the entire school that are based on data analysis.

The current study is the first to examine the impact of the behavior program over the course of several school years. The research involved data on more than 12,000 elementary school students, about 13 percent of whom received special education services.

For years, SWPBIS has been touted in special education circles as a means to reduce behavior problems among children with disabilities. More recently, as concerns have been raised about the use of restraint and seclusion in schools, everyone from U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to disability advocates have cited SWPBIS as a preventive measure that schools can implement.

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Comments (2 Responses)

  1. KA101 says:

    Important point here: PBS also reduces problem behavior in NT kids.

    Some of that problem behavior would either be targeted at autistic kids or at least serve as a model for said kids. (Ask me where & how I learned to torment the resource-room teacher.) Therefore, reducing that behavior also reduces behavior problems related to response-to-bullying & attempts to emulate socially-successful students.

    Which in turn frees up more instructional time for learning and positive behavior.

    This is one vicious cycle that I wouldn’t mind starting up.

  2. Renita Murphy says:

    My seventeen year-old son has asperger’s syndrome and sensory intergration disorder along with odd and chronic anxiety. He is a junior in the public school system, receiving his education through homebound services. Homebound services (the teacher comes to our home…at least twice week) started for my son three years ago, when his behavior was uncontrollable. He would have manic rage episodes, he would just get up and walk out of the school building (trying to come home to me) and then he lost twenty pounds because he was so depressed. I just got tired of dealing with law enforcement (their primary purpose was safety) on a regulas basis. When my son was nine years old this same school system sued him and my husband and I. There was another incident at school after the charges were dismissed and a special education hired when my son, then ten years old was handcuffed. I was outraged, that teacher didn’t return and a new teacher (special education) was hired in 2006. My son has been allowed to have this teacher follow him until he graduates high school because of the instant bond (trust) that was established and highly unusual. I think this teacher deserves and award!!!

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