What is the history behind PBIS?

In the late 80's and early 90's, articles about school-wide behavior management began to appear in the literature. In particular, the University of Oregon was publishing the results of their early work around school-wide discipline programming. Under the leadership of Bill Hussey, the Behavior Support Section Chief of the Exceptional Children Division at the NC Department of Public Instruction began to incorporate this information into the professional development it provided. By the late nineties, the section was discussing whole-school implementation with schools and school systems. When NC received a state improvement grant, funding to develop demonstration sites for whole school behavior management was written in as part of the project by then Section Chief, Joe Knight. The initial sites identified were provided with information about implementation at Fern Ridge Middle, and the next Section Chief, Diann Irwin, made contact with Lucille Eber, of the Illinois PBIS Network about providing PBS training for these identified demonstration sites. It was through this contact that the NC Department of Public Instruction formed a connection with the OSEP National Technical Assistance Center for PBIS. Tim Lewis, of the University of Missouri and one of the center co-directors, came to NC in 2001-2002 school year to provide positive behavior support training for a cadre of trainers.

After this initial training, the behavior support section consultants along with participants from the demonstration sites continued to provide training across the state. This model continued until the Regional Coordinator positions were established in the fall of 2005. With the addition of these support staff, the initiative began adding an average of about 150 school teams per year, and expanded efforts to provide technical assistance and evaluation support beyond training. In late 2007, the NC state legislature created a state PBIS consultant position at NC DPI. By the end of the 2008-2009 school year, 790 school teams reported being at some stage of PBIS implementation, representing over 30% of all the schools in the state. This group includes schools at all grade levels, although more elementary schools are implementing overall. Of these, over 300 submitted Schoolwide Evaluation Tool (SET) scores, and the statewide average for this assessment is over 80%, which indicates that these schools are implementing school-wide PBIS with a high level of fidelity. Suspension rates for PBIS schools have shown decreasing trends for the past 5 years. In addition, average rates of office discipline referrals in PBIS schools in NC are below the national average across grade levels.

As the initiative continues to grow, the state leadership team, state consultant, and regional coordinators work to ensure the continued sustainability of the project. Special projects and efforts include: development of a data collection manual, production of an annual evaluation report, creation and implementation of a recognition program, trainer boot camp to encourage and provide for local sustainability, district implementation, family and community involvement, and connecting with other initiatives both within DPI and with other public agencies (such as Cultural Responsiveness, Responsiveness to Instruction, and Systems of Care).

Is PBIS research-based?

PBIS is evidence based, in that multiple and varied approaches to research have been conducted to confirm the effectiveness of its principles and strategies. Please refer to the document titled "Is School Wide PBIS Evidence Based?" available at:

How do we know PBIS is effective?

PBIS is evidence based, in that multiple and varied approaches to research have been conducted to confirm the effectiveness of its principles and strategies. Please refer to the document titled "Is School Wide PBIS Evidence Based?" available at: In addition, the NC PBIS Initiative has a variety of outcome measures which indicate effectiveness for schools implementing PBIS. Please refer to the annual evaluation on the NC PBIS website.

How does PBIS compare to Responsiveness to Instruction (RtI)?

"The logic, tenets, and principles of PBIS are the same as those represented in RtI (e.g., universal screening, continuous progress monitoring, data-based decision making, implementation fidelity, evidence-based interventions). Literacy and numeracy implementation frameworks are examples of the application of RtI for academic behavior, and PBIS is an example of the application of RtI for social behavior" (OSEP TA Center on PBIS, n.d.). Retrieved from

For more information please see Response-to-Intervention and PBIS and past presentations on the NC PBIS website at:

How do you differentiate between a perceived student behavior problem and an implementation problem (fidelity)?

The answer to this question is: data. If multiple students or multiple settings are emerging in school-wide data consider reviewing school- wide implementation. If data on Implementation measures such as the Implementation Inventory On-line or the School-wide Evaluation Tool (SET) reveal areas of concern for implementation then the team would also want to consider addressing those areas. Other sources of data might also have to be collected to determine if practices are actually being implemented, such as ensuring that teachers are distributing the expected number of reinforcers per week. Without considering the data in these areas it is possible that a school might perceive challenges as the result of an individual student.

How can we help everyone understand the goal is to decrease problem behavior not just discipline referrals?

The goal of PBIS is not to merely decrease discipline referrals. Efforts should be established which reduce problem behaviors. The office discipline referrals are the data used to determine if the systems and practices within your school are effectively addressing those problem behaviors. While the efforts to put forth data that present the image of a school with a minimum number of disciplinary referrals seems like a good idea, not only does it prevent your team from having accurate data to use for problem-solving, it is also likely to undermine teacher buy-in for PBIS, as they might perceive administration as not supporting them. In the end, efforts to distort data and under-report offenses hold the possibility of reducing valuable supports and resources offered by the district in response to need demonstrated by those data. Also consider ways to convey the message that accuracy is valued in data reporting at the district level so that administrators do not perceive the district would respond critically to the school data reports.

How can parents be more involved in PBIS?

Strategies to enhance family and community involvement with PBIS can include:

  • Provide families with a PBIS calendar of when cool tools will be instructed at school and provide families with the cool tools for teaching at home.
  • 'Gotchas' of a different color for home; students can bring them back to school or families can create their own system for home.
  • Families are informed about PBIS with specially designed handbooks, mini-binders, newsletters and school websites.
  • PBIS family newsletter with cool tools for home.
  • Provide tools to parents to help them to understand function of behavior and behavior modification.
  • Families of new students can be presented a DVD upon enrollment in school. The result will be a visual, in addition to the written, Student Success Guide. Retrieved from (many other suggestions are available):