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Volume 25, Number 3
May/June 2009

Beyond the Discipline Handbook

An interview with George Sugai on how schools can implement a positive approach to managing student behavior


Over the past 25 years, Gallup polls have consistently reported that disruptive behavior and discipline problems in school are some of the top concerns of school staff and community members. In fact, problems with classroom management are among the most common reasons that teachers leave their jobs.

In response, many schools are turning to more formal approaches to school discipline and classroom management. One such approach is called Schoolwide Positive Behavioral Supports (PBS). About 7,500 schools across 40 states are now implementing variations of Schoolwide PBS. George Sugai, a professor of special education in the Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut and codirector of the Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, spoke to
HEL contributor Mitch Bogen about how PBS differs from traditional school discipline.

What is Schoolwide Positive Behavioral Supports (PBS)?

Schoolwide PBS is a three-tiered framework for implementing schoolwide practices and systems aimed at preventing behavioral problems. In the first tier, all students should be exposed to a formal, positive, preventive, social-skills curriculum that supports the academic mission of the school. And they should be exposed to it across all settings in the school, including places outside the classroom, like in the cafeteria and on the bus. If a school does a good job with schoolwide social skills, they’ll support about 70 to 80 percent of the students, which means that those students should be doing pretty well from a disciplinary or behavioral perspective

This is an excerpt from the Harvard Education Letter. Subscribers can click here to continue reading this article.