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As more and more schools adopt school-wide positive behavior support (SWPBS) as a model for school improvement and the success of initial demonstration sites becomes evident, districts are faced with expansion and sustainability issues. Careful planning of these implementation efforts requires district personnel to be familiar with the resources and supports needed to implement and sustain such district-wide systems change efforts and build an infrastructure to support SWPBS initiatives. The purpose of this article is to expand upon School-wide Positive Behavior Support: Implementers' Blueprint and Self-Assessment (Sugai et al., 2005) by describing the how-to of the SWPBS implementation process with specific activities and providing user-friendly tools that can assist a district in "going to scale." Obstacles to and future considerations for expanding the practice of SWPBS are also presented.
Keywords: systems level planning; positive behavior support; school wide; systems change; district support; implementation sustainability; readiness activities
Nearly every state has adopted some form of school-wide positive behavior support (SWPBS) as a model for systems level school improvement. The Technical Assistance Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (U.S. Dept. of Education, 2005) reported that nearly 5,000 schools across 40 states have adopted some approach to positively and proactively addressing the behavior of all students within a school using school-wide positive behavior support, defined as "a broad range of systemic and individualized strategies for achieving important social and learning outcomes while preventing problem behavior with all students" (Sugai et al., 2005). As the success of initial demonstration schools becomes evident, districts are faced with an ever-increasing request for additional schools to receive training and begin SWPBS implementation. Often, requests come from school administrators who desire the same or similar outcomes as their colleagues in PBS demonstration schools. In Florida, it is not uncommon for school districts to initiate SWPBS with 1 to 3 schools the first year and to request 15 or 20 new schools the following school year. District administrators have been known to envision that "all of [their] 150 schools will be PBS schools in the next three years," often without planning for the support required to succeed at that level of implementation.
Without careful planning, such district-wide implementation efforts will likely fail, as district personnel will be unfamiliar with the available resources and with the supports necessary to implement and sustain such district-wide systems change efforts. Collaboration with key district-level stakeholders will assist in supporting and sustaining currently trained and implementing schools and in planning for district-wide expansion. This level of district involvement will build awareness and enhance PBS efforts by utilizing cross-departmental collaboration and preventing the occurrence of competing initiatives.
School-wide Positive Behavior Support: Implementers' Blueprint and Self-Assessment (Sugai et al., 2005) provides a user-friendly guide to improving the efficiency and success of large-scale replications of positive behavior support. This practical tool provides a thorough outline for getting SWPBS started, sustaining efforts, and planning for expansion. The implementation elements in the blueprint consist of the following: (a) leadership team, (b) coordination, (c) funding, (d) visibility, (e) political support, (f) training capacity, (g) coaching capacity, (h) demonstrations, and (i) evaluation.
While the Implementers' Blueprint is a tremendous resource for understanding the what and why of each feature, it does not describe the how-to of the implementation process. The purpose of this article is to enhance the blueprint by describing specific activities and providing user-friendly tools that can assist a district in going to scale. The article discusses each of the nine elements of the blueprint, sharing specific activities and tools that have demonstrated success in helping school districts build capacity for PBS.
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Implementing the PBS Blueprint at the District Level
One of the key tools that can be used to assess the preliminary capacity of a district and to communicate the prerequisites for participating in SWPBS training activities is the District Readiness Checklist (see Figure 1). The District Readiness Checklist summarizes many of the key features in the blueprint and provides a measurable objective for the district to assess its current capacity and its ability to support PBS. It is recommended that the items on this checklist be reviewed and assessed by key district stakeholders each school year as the discussion of expansion occurs. Most items on the checklist are addressed during biannual district action planning meetings.
The district action planning meeting is used to assist the district leadership team (key stakeholders) in developing an annual, comprehensive plan for gaining commitment, coordinating support, and evaluating progress of PBS activities for all schools in the district. The district action plan helps to determine which district personnel, representing various service areas, are needed to build and maintain PBS as a priority for schools within the district. The district action plan also determines the district-level personnel who may be identified as PBS coaches. PBS coaches are directly responsible for facilitating and assisting school-based PBS teams with implementation and for regularly monitoring school-wide progress. The district action plan also allows the district leadership team to plan for resources (e.g., time, funding) to support implementing school teams. In addition, during the district action planning process, the district leadership team generates goals for expanding positive behavior supports within the district for the upcoming school year. Many district leadership teams request to meet quarterly rather than annually or biannually to maintain cross-departmental communication and stay informed of current and planned PBS efforts.
The Florida PBS Project has found the use of a structured team process to be very effective in assisting the district leadership team in planning for each year (see Figure 2). The items addressed on the District Readiness Checklist, including several of the elements in the blueprint, are summarized utilizing graphic techniques on large pieces of paper so that the entire team can remain active participants throughout the process. The process requires as little as 2 hours to complete and allows the district leadership team to measure where they have been and where they are now and to plan for future PBS efforts. Results of the meeting are transferred to a document and used during subsequent team meetings to assist in action planning based upon the goals established.
Figure 2 District Action Planning Guide: Florida's Positive Behavior Support Project Current Status 1. Commitment to school-wide PBS 2. Other initiatives that may impact (positively or negatively) school-wide PBS efforts Enroll 1. Members of leadership team, Cross-representation 2. Capacity to identify the number of schools to be involved 3. Complete yearly self-assessment and action plan with PBS project 4. Plan and follow through with a 3- to 5-year action plan 5. Commit to regular meetings and a process to implement school-wide PBS Strengths 1. Coordination a. Coordinator/district contact with sufficient FFE to make the process work 2. Funding a. Funding to support activities for the next 3 years 3. Visibility a. Issues that may impact support for the PBS process by the board/superintendent …