What are cost-effective or free resources that can be used for reinforcement?

Please refer to the document titled "Having Fun with PBIS: Free or Inexpensive Rewards for PBIS Schools" available at

Should incentives be taken away from students at PBIS schools? What about response-cost strategies to manage behavior?

The NC PBIS Initiative strongly discourages the removal of incentives that students have rightfully earned. If the student met the criteria for earning the reward but engaged in an unrelated challenging behavior that did not prevent them from earning the reward, then it follows that the student's willingness to follow expectations, put forth effort to engage in the described behaviors, and trust that he/she will actually be allowed to earn the incentive could be greatly undermined by removing reinforcements that have been earned. In this case, it would be recommended that the staff consider appropriate consequences for the particular behavior that was exhibited.

When designing consequence systems, PBIS schools should keep in mind that studies have shown punishment in many forms, including response cost, to have mixed results. While some studies have shown these strategies to be effective in decreasing aggressive and inappropriate behavior (Simonsen, Fairbanks, Briesch, Myers, & Sugai, 2008); other studies have shown the unintended side-effects of such strategies. Documented outcomes of punishment include escape-motivated behavior, (counter-) aggression, habituation to ever harsher punishment, unpredictable reactions to consequences, and other antisocial behaviors (Axelrod & Apsche, 1983; Mayer, 1995; MacMillan, Forness, & Trumball, 1973; Sidman, 1999; Wood & Braaten, 1983).

"Although PBIS has no specific restrictions on the use of consequence-based strategies designed to reduce serious problem behavior, teaching-oriented, positive, and preventive strategies are emphasized for all students, to the greatest extent possible. The emphasis is on the use of the most effective and most positive approach to addressing even the most severe problem behaviors" (Sugai, et al., 2000).

Furthermore, the use of punishment does nothing to teach an appropriate replacement behavior (The Council for Exceptional Children, 1991; Sidman, 1999; Skinner, 1953) that will assist students in being more successful socially and academically. A focus on punishment is antithetical to PBIS philosophy, which revolves around prevention, improving the overall environment, and actively teaching students appropriate prosocial behaviors. As noted by Skiba and Peterson (2000), "Children are developmentally incomplete. They will always require socialization, instruction, and correction to shape fundamentally egocentric behavior into interpersonal skills that make our children capable of interacting successfully."

Best practice for PBIS schools is to emphasize teaching, coaching, and reinforcing appropriate behavior (note that Exemplar schools are expected to adhere to best practice). Schools working towards full PBIS implementation and still utilizing punitive systems are strongly encouraged to actively plan and implement strategies to phase out such systems.

Do all PBIS schools use tickets to reward behavior and should they be faded over time?

No, all PBIS schools do not use tickets. Schools can use stickers, stamps, signatures, and other tangible reinforcers based on their schools' preference. All PBIS schools should have an established system for reinforcing and acknowledging appropriate behaviors, but the tangible things given are only part of the reinforcement process. The other key component is verbal acknowledgement. By pairing tangible reinforcement with verbal reinforcement, adults can make clear to students which behaviors they are reinforcing and provide an effective form of reinforcement even after they begin to fade tangible reinforcers. Within school settings, reinforcements generally fade over the course of the school year by creating longer periods of time between reinforcement or by raising the criteria for success. However, most PBIS schools do not fade reinforcement entirely. Each year, PBIS schools start the process again by teaching and reinforcing expected behaviors.