A team from every pre-k through 8th grade school site gathered to attend a Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) training and facilitated work session on January 30th. The training, led by Catherine Bartz and Hannah Acevedo (School Psychologists), opened with an engaging 9-minute video of students, teachers, and staff in our schools talking about how positive behavioral supports are working to improve student engagement and reduce the need for disciplinary actions.
Our district has been dedicated to implementation of PBIS for over six years. PBIS is a framework that offers a tiered model of behavioral support and early intervention based on extensive research and cited as a recommended practice by the U.S. Department of Education.
The aim of PBIS is to provide positive, predictable, and supportive school-wide social and academic environments for all students. The first tier of prevention is to communicate clearly school-wide expectations through signage, assemblies, and student and class awards/recognition. The second tier focuses on offering specialized group support for students with at-risk behaviors. The most intensive form of prevention is the third tier for students who need individualized attention for high risk behaviors.
While the the use of the PBIS framework in Berkeley has led to significantly fewer suspensions, it is evident that disparities in discipline outcomes continue to exist along racial lines in our schools. Therefore, the focus of the recent training was to explicitly link our on-going work to achieve equitable outcomes for all students, the cornerstone of our 2020 Vision, with the structure of PBIS.
Culturally responsive PBIS seeks to make strategic additions to the standard PBIS framework in order to address the needs of all student groups in our schools. During the training, teams were presented with a method for examining their practices in order to identify ways to better engage all student groups. Through examination of school-specific behavioral data and self-assessment data, school teams engaged in a critical assessment of how to better meet the needs of student groups who are over represented in discipline data.
Each team left the training with an updated year-long action plan that incorporates areas for improvement.