Five schools in the Newton County School System are being recognized by the state superintendent’s office for their work using the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support program, or PBIS.
Clements Middle School, Cousins Middle School, Liberty Middle School, Veteran’s Memorial Middle School and Newton High School were all mentioned by the state office in a letter sent to NCSS Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey for “improving their schools climate” and staying dedicated to using PBIS.
“The state school superintendent wrote a letter acknowledging their hard work and the impact their commitment to PBIS has had on student’s achievement and behavior,” Fuhrey said.
The five schools have each been implementing their own version of the PBIS framework for the past three years. In that time, Newton County High School, Clements Middle School and Cousins Middle School’s PBIS teams have been called upon to speak at state conferences and give other schools across the state their best practices on how to implement the program.
“(It’s) because of their large drop in delinquency rate,” Fuhrey said.
Fuhrey states that all five schools have had a reduction in the number of referrals doled out since the framework was put into effect. Official’s numbers for each school weren’t available at press time.
Keisha Taylor, principal of Liberty Middle School, says there has been a slight drop in discipline referrals and a main reason is for the Knight Bucks, named after the school’s mascot that students receive for displaying positive behavior.
“The key thing is positive reinforcement,” she said. “They start out doing it for the Knight Bucks, but then after a while it becomes a part of their normal behavior.”
Students can use the fake money to purchase things like game tickets and other school related items, says Fuhrey.
Taylor also says that when a student is given a referral they usually only get that one and don’t come back because a referral results in the loss of Knight Bucks.
Cousins Middle School uses a similar reward system called Cardinal Bucks.
What is PBIS?
The program, developed in the mid-1990s by two professors from the University of Oregon and now used in over 20,000 schools across the nation, is designed to be a framework for all teachers and administrators to build consistent reactions to student’s actions. This will help reduce environmental deficiencies within the school, says Eric Landers, a facilitator for schools using PBIS and co-director of the National Youth-At-Risk Center.
“A lot of kids fail in school because of us adults,” he said. “We create these environmental deficiencies by not communicating with one other and saying, ‘Hey, what are our expectations of these kids. ‘ We don’t want to setup a system where we give kids things to behave.”
While the letter “P” in the acronym PBIS means positive, Landers stresses that just being positive about unacceptable behavioral will only get school teachers and officials more of the same with little to no results.
Stopping the behavior before it escalates is the only way to solve problems because, “if I can be preventative I’m not dealing with that behavior in the first place therefore I’m teaching more and therefore I can have a critical interaction with that child.”