State College, PA - Centre County - Central Pennsylvania - Home of Penn State University

Positive Behavior Interventions Making Big Impact

by and on June 13, 2018 4:30 AM

More than 1,800 people attended Pennsylvania’s Positive Behavior Support Implementers Forum, recently held in Hershey. The conference focused on themes such as using PBS to reduce bias in educational practices and the positive impact of PBS, including creating safer, responsive, more nurturing, pro-social school communities. 

According to Dr. Nikole Hollins-Sims, an educational consultant with the Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network, “this forum is an amazing opportunity for schools across the state to come together for one purpose and that is to network, encourage and support positive behavior school systems for communities and students.” 

This year’s conference featured nationally known PBS researchers and presenters Dr. Kent McIntosh, Dr. Laura Riffel and Dr. Anthony Biglan.

McIntosh opened as the keynote speaker, focusing on the utility of School-Wide Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports in addressing disproportionate disciplinary procedures. This refers to punitive measures not being equally applied to non-white students, specifically black males. McIntosh challenged audience members to be aware of their implicit biases.

He also provided tools to help schools acknowledge that biases do exist in all people, and that it is imperative to move away from making snap judgements when it comes to managing student behavior. He recommended a system of prevention that explicitly teaches students what is expected of them and provides frequent reinforcement for exhibiting those expectations.

According to McIntosh, it is imperative for teams to use data to make decisions. He suggested that school teams drill down to determine school trends in behavioral infractions. Knowing what times of day, what settings and which groups of students are more likely to be referred for a behavioral infractions is imperative to enhance equity in school discipline.

This year, more than 300 preschools and schools across the commonwealth were acknowledged for implementing SWPBIS building-wide on a Tier 1 level. This means the schools have engaged in core tenets of SWPBIS, including having clearly defined behavioral expectations that are taught and reinforced to all students. Both of Penn State University's child care centers — Bennett Center and Child Care Center at Hort Woods — were acknowledged for earning Tier 1 Sustained Implementation with Fidelity. 

Only 23 Pennsylvania schools were acknowledged at the highest level of implementation at Universal (Tier 1), Targeted (Tier 2) and Intensive (Tier 3) with fidelity. Of these, four schools were from Centre County. Acknowledged for their efforts were Bellefonte Area Middle School, State College School District's Mount Nittany Elementary School, and Penns Valley Elementary/Intermediate School.

While it is always an honor to be recognized, said Mount Nittany Elementary school psychologist Leah Kraytz, “there is always room for growth. In fact, even when you receive Banner status, it does not mean that you are done. What works one year may need to be improved upon the following year. What is important is a strong foundation, consisting of the core SWPBIS components as well as a responsive growth mindset.

“Research consistently suggests that social and emotional learning is a key component to student success. SWPBIS is one way of ensuring that students receive universal, targeted or intensive SEL supports at school. By implementing the SWPBIS model, schools are not only working to help children develop socially, emotionally and/or behaviorally, but academically as well.

"I feel incredibly lucky to be part of a team at MNE that not only values but embraces the importance of supporting student’s social, emotional, and behavioral needs.”

For more information about SWPBIS, visit, or 


This story was produced by the staff at the Centre County Gazette. It was re-published with permission. The Centre County Gazette is a weekly publication, available at many locations around Centre County every Thursday morning.

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