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This study reports evaluation data from the statewide School-Wide Positive Behavior Supports (SWPBS) initiative in Iowa. The study shows initial positive results over a 3-year period. The School-Wide Evaluation Tool, Team Implementation Checklist, and office discipline referral data were monitored to assess progress. Suggestions for connecting these implementation efforts to intensive individual supports are proposed.
Keywords: positive behavior; school-wide; evaluation
The purpose of this article is to share results from Iowa of our work to date and to offer a framework for how these outcomes guide our work. This study will present the integrity of school-wide implementation data and office discipline referral data as well as how this work connects to intensive individual supports.
In the past two decades, Iowa has had several initiatives aimed at providing behavioral supports for students with emotional or behavioral disorders. Since the early 1990s, the Iowa Department of Education has been involved in several statewide systems change initiatives. The Iowa Behavioral Initiative (IBI) was the first initiative. IBI was created to assist educators who worked with students with significant behavioral needs. This developed into Success4, an approach for students, schools, families, and communities to work in the social, emotional, behavioral, and intellectual domains to support student success in schools. In 2003, Success4 was replaced by the current statewide systems change approach, called Learning Supports. Learning Supports is based on the premise that to have an effective and efficient system of learning supports, five components must be present: (a) efforts that are based on long-term results, using quality data; (b) well-coordinated interventions that address the range of learning needs; (c) an infrastructure that ensures that coordination and planning are integrated with other school improvement efforts; (d) policies that are student and family friendly; and (e) sustained school capacity to focus on supports for learning.
School-Wide Positive Behavioral Supports (SWPBS) was established in the fall of 2002 to provide the universal, secondary, and tertiary assistance needed for the social, emotional, and behavioral success of all Iowa students. Iowa's PBS model is a collaborative effort between Drake University, Iowa State University, the Research Institute for Studies in Education, the Iowa Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health, and the Iowa Department of Education.
A 5-year evaluation plan provides for multiple measures to monitor changes in the behavior of staff and students, including the student's academic performance. This article addresses three questions. Can schools adopt SWPBS with fidelity? If SWPBS is adopted, does it affect problem behavior patterns? If SWPBS is adopted, does it affect the ability of a school to implement more intensive behavior support?
Currently, Iowa has 103 active SWPBS sites with formal evaluation data available for 72 sites, including 36 elementary schools, 19 middle schools, 13 high schools, and 4 special schools. In 2002, all public and private educational building sites in Iowa were invited to submit a grant application to participate in the SWPBS initiative. The applicants were asked to answer questions related to systems capacity commitment for implementing and sustaining a SWPBS effort. Eight demonstration sites (Cohort 1) were selected from this pool and began training in the fall of 2002. Seven sites were added in 2003 in one urban district (Cohort 2). Twenty-four sites were added in the 2004 (Cohort 3), and 29 sites were added in 2005 (Cohort 4). The remaining 35 sites are affiliated with the Iowa Behavioral Alliance but under the supervision of Iowa's largest intermediate area education agency (AEA). Cohort 4 schools and the 35 AEA sites were not included in the data analysis because they did not begin SWPBS implementation until fall of 2005.
The original eight PBS school teams received PBS training during three 2-day sessions during a 3-year period from a national trainer. Subsequent cohorts received training and technical assistance from state trainers. Six of the demonstration sites had an internal coach as their team leader, and two sites had a coach external to the building (cf. Office of Special Education Programs [OSEP], 2004, for a description of internal and external coaching roles). In addition, a School-Wide Information System (SWIS) facilitator was assigned to …