What is PBIS?

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is an evidence-based prevention framework for improving and integrating data, systems, and practices to positively impact student academic and non-academic outcomes. It is a way to support the needs of the whole child. The Delaware PBS Project is a statewide technical assistance center designed to build the knowledge and skills of Delaware educators in the concepts and evidence-based practices of Positive Behavior Interventions and Support (PBIS) as a Multi-tiered System of Support (MTSS). Delaware MTSS is an integrated, multilevel prevention system that optimizes team-based leadership and data-driven decision making to meet the academic and nonacademic (e.g., behavioral, social and emotional) needs of all students.  PBIS is an MTSS framework utilized to develop positive learning environments and prevent problem behaviors. The first tier, school-wide PBIS, uses universal strategies implemented throughout the school to support the positive behavior of all students. The second tier layers on additional strategies for students who need more support at this targeted level.  For the remaining approximately 5% of students who do not respond to universal and targeted strategies alone, individualized supports are developed at the third tier.

Adapted from: https://www.pbis.org/pbis/getting-started

SWPBIS Outcomes

School-Wide PBIS is evidence-based and implementing with fidelity is associated with positive outcomes, including:

  • Improved academic, social, and social-emotional outcomes
  • Reduced bullying behaviors
  • Decreased rates of student-reported drug/alcohol abuse
  • Reductions in office disciplinary referrals, suspensions, and restraint and seclusion strategiesDecreased ODR disproportionality
  • Improved perception of teacher efficacy
  • Improved school climate
  • Improved perceptions of school safety

PBIS as your Multi-Tiered System of Support

PBIS is a 3 tiered prevention framework that supports the social, emotional and behavior needs of your students. The three Tiered PBIS framework includes:

Tier 1: Primary Prevention (all)

Tier 1 emphasizes prosocial skills and expectations by teaching and acknowledging appropriate student behavior.

Tier 1 foundational systems include:

  • An established leadership team that is representative of the school, the student population, staff, and the community
  • A positive and safe school climate
  • Regular meetings
  • A commitment statement for establishing a positive school-wide school climate
  • On-going collection, sharing, and strategic use of data for decision making
  • Ongoing professional development and support to school staff
  • Personnel evaluation plan

Tier 1 practices include:

  • Culturally responsive school-wide positive expectations and behaviors developed with stakeholders and explicitly taught to students
  • Established classroom expectations aligned with school-wide expectations and explicitly taught
  • A continuum of procedures for encouraging expected behavior
  • A continuum of procedures for discouraging problem behavior
  • Procedures for encouraging school, family, and community partnerships
  • Positive teacher-student, student-student, and school-family relations
  • School-wide evidence-based programs in social and emotional learning (SEL) 

Tier 2: Secondary Prevention (some)

Tier 2 supports are for students who need additional support beyond Tier 1, as identified through a data-based decision making process.. Tier 2 often involves group interventions with 10 or more students participating. Group interventions are linked directly to the school-wide expectations and/or academic goals. The support at this level is more targeted than Tier 1 and less intensive than Tier 3.

Tier 2 foundational systems include:

  • A problem solving intervention team with a coordinator
  • Behavioral expertise
  • Collection and monitoring of fidelity and outcome data 
  • A screening process to identify students needing Tier 2 support
  • Access to training and technical assistance

Tier 2 practices include:

  • Increased targeted instruction and practice with self-regulation and social skills
  • Increased adult supervision
  • Increased opportunities for positive reinforcement
  • Increased pre-corrections
  • Increased access to academic supports

Tier 3: Tertiary Prevention (few)

At Tier 3, students receive more intensive, individualized support to improve their social emotional and behavioral outcomes.

Tier 3 foundational systems include:

  • A multi-disciplinary team
  • Behavior support expertise
  • Collection of formal fidelity and outcome data

Tier 3 practices include:

  • Function-based assessments
  • Wraparound supports
  • Cultural and contextual fit

Want to learn more?

Equity and PBIS

Equity is a guiding principle at all tiers of PBIS.

Equity and equitable access “refers to the idea that every student in any classroom in any public school in Delaware should have the same opportunity as any other student to be taught by a great teacher who is supported by a great leader.” Our state “has long focused on closing educator equity gaps because we, as a state, believe that we will only close the achievement gap for our highest need students if all students have equitable access to the most capable and well-prepared educator” (Delaware Department of Education, 2015).

In Delaware, there are 43,780 public school students living in poverty, 78,648 students of color, 13,363 students who are English language learners, and 22,478 students with disabilities (Delaware Department of Education, 2015). In Delaware and across the United States, many poor and minority students do not have access to the same educational opportunities as non-minority students due to biases that exist in academic and curricular access, discipline referral systems, teacher performance, admission practices, and more.

To learn more about equity in education and ways that educators can reduce racial disproportionality and disparities in our schools, please visit our equity page here.

Delaware-PBS Key Features

1. Recognize that a positive and safe school climate promotes not only positive behavior, but also academic, social, and emotional development.

2. Recognize that ALL students benefit from positive behavioral supports. This includes students with and without behavior problems or disabilities, and requires sensitivity to individual and cultural differences.

3. Recognize the critical importance of preventing behavior problems. This is evident throughout school policies and evidence-based practices, especially in preventive classroom management, clear school-wide expectations, and schoolwide teaching and recognition of positive behaviors. It also is seen in positive teacher-student, student-student, and school-family relations.

4. Recognize the critical importance of developing self-discipline. Achieving this long-term goal requires much more than strategies for preventing and correcting behavior problems. Thus, schools implement evidence-based programs in character education and social and emotional learning and/or infuse lessons
throughout the curriculum that teach such social and emotional competencies as positive peer relations, empathy, resisting peer pressure, conflict resolution, and social and moral responsibility.

5. Recognize the critical importance of correcting misbehavior using a combination of evidence-based techniques for increasing appropriate behavior and decreasing use of inappropriate techniques. This is seen throughout school disciplinary policies and practices and in the recognition of the limitations of the use of harsh, frequent, or unfair punishment.

6. Recognize the critical importance of providing students who exhibit serious or chronic behavior problems with comprehensive and intensive evidence-based interventions and supports. They should be provided early, when behavior problems first appear. Where appropriate, they should be individualized and linked to functional behavioral assessments and person-centered planning.

7. In translating these beliefs into practice, Delaware PBS schools adopt a problem-solving team process for planning, development, implementation, and evaluation of evidence-based practices across all three levels of prevention and intervention (primary, secondary, and tertiary). The team is representative of the school staff and community including students and parents as active participants.

8. In translating these beliefs into practice, schools demonstrate sustained commitment, participation, and implementation with fidelity by the majority of staff, administrators, district leadership, and school community in a shared approach to the dynamic and evolving PBS process.

9. In translating these beliefs into practice, schools value the importance of databased decision making, as reflected in the on-going evaluation of program effectiveness and modification of program components, interventions and supports based on multiple sources of data.

10. In translating these beliefs into practice, schools provide on-going professional development and support to school staff that corresponds closely with the needs of the schools and individual staff members 


We believe…

  1. Equity and culturally responsive practices must be ingrained into all aspects of MTSS/PBS at the state, district, and school levels.
  2. Each student deserves to feel safe and to be welcomed as a valued member of the school community.
  3. Listening to and learning from the educational experiences of Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color is essential to inform antiracist and culturally responsive work in schools.
  4. Educational systems must amplify and prioritize the voices of students and families who are black, indigenous and people of color.
  5. Representation matters in the curriculum and staffing and both should be representative of the communities they serve in and the students they serve. 
  6. Discipline policies and practices need to be equitable, preventive and restorative.
  7. Decision-making in MTSS/PBS must be data-driven and all data needs to be examined for bias, from including what is collected, how it is collected, and how it gets interpreted and reported.  
  8. Educational systems need to prioritize, educate, and continuously monitor our school community around equity and culturally responsive practices in order to best serve our students.
  9. Equity requires schools to support social emotional learning and promotion of mental wellbeing for each member of the school community. 

In translating these beliefs into practices…

  1. Schools examine Tier 1 practices for bias including SW expectations and teaching matrices.  The development and revision of expectations and teaching matrices includes representation of all members of community (staff, family and students).
  2. LEAs and schools ensure students have equitable access to Tier 2 and 3 interventions and interventions are responsive to the needs of all students.
  3. LEAs and schools engage in and provide professional learning about racism, bias, and privilege in order to build greater awareness, sensitivity, and opportunities for reflection.
  4. Educators consider our biases about student behavior and replace deficit thinking with a strengths-based approach.
  5. LEAs and schools examine and change policies that disproportionately harm students who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.
  6. LEAs support educators in replacing exclusionary responses to problem behavior with restorative, culturally responsive approaches.
  7. Disaggregated data is used to guide decision-making.