What is PBIS?

By Andrew M.I. Lee, JD

At a glance

  • Positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS) is an approach schools use to promote school safety and good behavior.

  • With PBIS, schools teach kids about behavior expectations and strategies.

  • The focus of PBIS is prevention, not punishment.

Many kids struggle with behavior in school. When schools react only with punishment, students don’t learn the skills they need to improve. That’s where positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS) comes in. 

PBIS is a proactive approach schools use to improve school safety and promote positive behavior. The focus of PBIS is prevention, not punishment.

With PBIS, schools teach students positive behavior strategies, just as they would teach about any other subject. All students learn about positive behavior, including kids with IEPs and 504 plans.

PBIS recognizes that students can only meet behavior expectations if they know what the expectations are. Everyone learns what’s considered appropriate behavior. And they use a common language to talk about it. Throughout the school day — in class, at lunch, and on the bus — students understand what’s expected of them.

According to research, PBIS leads to better student behavior. In many schools that use PBIS, students get fewer detentions and suspensions. They also earn better grades. And there’s some evidence that PBIS may lead to less bullying.

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    About the author

    About the author

    Andrew M.I. Lee, JD is an editor and attorney who strives to help people understand complex legal, education, and parenting issues.