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 Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports (PBIS)


Kathy Lane, Director of Alternative Schools


PBIS is a decision-making framework that guides selection, integration, and implementation of the best evidence based academic and behavioral practices for improving academic and behavioral outcomes for ALL students. It is a team-based process for systemic problem solving and planning. PBIS emphasizes four elements: data for decision making; measurable outcomes; practices with evidence that these outcomes are achievable; systems that effectively and efficiently support implementation practices. PBIS is not a program or a curriculum but assists schools to support all students in all venues: the classroom, areas outside the classroom (hallways, restrooms, cafeteria, and playgrounds), and  individual students.  These systems define school rules and expectations, provide training about the rules, and offer feedback through acknowledgements and corrections. 


In July 1999 the Maryland State Department of Education, in collaboration with the Sheppard Pratt Health System conducted the initial workshops for Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports (PBIS). 

In 1999, fifteen elementary school-based teams representing 9 local school systems (LSS), including AACPS, were trained at the initial workshop “Tough Times – Tough Kids” which featured Dr. George Sugai from the University of Oregon’s national center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports.  

MSDE has subsequently collaborated with Dr. Sugai, Center for Behavioral Education and Research, University of Connecticut to conduct Summer Institutes annually.  Since July 1999, over 800 school teams, representing all 24 local school systems, have been trained in PBIS.  Most of these schools have experienced success at achieving their goals of reducing behavioral disruption: 


State Leadership Team consists of representatives from: The Maryland State Department of Education: Division of Student and Family Support Services, Sheppard Pratt Health System, John Hopkins University, Local School System Behavior Support Coaches.

The teams meet monthly to plan and coordinate the training and support for the School Teams and behavior support coaches. All 24 participating local school systems (LSS) have identified a specific point of contact (POC) for PBIS.  Information regarding upcoming meetings and training opportunities are disseminated through these POCs.  Dr. Virginia Dolan, AACPS PBIS Program Facilitator is on the state team. Her contact information is 410-923-0776.

Behavior Support Coaches:  Maryland has trained Behavior Support Coaches for each LEA who facilitate the functioning of the existing trained teams and provide leadership within their respective district to continue to expand the initiative. The majority of Coaches are school psychologists, guidance counselors, and, social workers. Within the scope of PBIS, they work with 1-2 PBIS schools.  Coaches attend PBIS school team meetings and provide ongoing support for the implementation and sustainment of PBIS.  Additionally, coaches meet at the state each year to share ideas, and challenges.  

School Teams: In Maryland, and in AACPS all of the trained school teams have volunteered to participate in PBIS.   Since administrative support is so critical to the success of PBIS, administrators (Principal or Assistant Principal) must be a part of the team that is trained.  The team also must be representative of the school staff, and they must agree to collect and use data for all decision making.  Additionally, the school must agree to implement PBIS for three years.

Anne Arundel County Public Schools currently has 73 school teams, pre K-12, including alternative education and special education centers, that have been trained and are implementing PBIS. The significant increase in Anne Arundel County Public Schools’ participation is, in part, a result of the system’s efforts to align with the AACPS Strategic Plan, the Bridge to Excellence and No Child Left Behind legislation. Each Anne Arundel County has had the highest number PBIS Schools that have earned the prestigious Gold Award for excellence with implementation and positive impact on achievement and behavior. AACPS’ PBIS Schools have saved 387 Days of Instruction and 495 Days of Administrative time through improved student behaviors.

Maryland has partnered with Johns Hopkins University Center for the Prevention of Youth Violence in evaluating PBIS in Maryland.  The evaluation effort – titled “Project Target” – is supported by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). AACPS is also participating in another grant project with JHU, called PBIS Plus, funded by USDE, to assist participating elementary schools with professional development and training to support students with behavioral challenges.


Spring Forum:  Each year MSDE hosts an orientation for representatives of those schools who are interested in participating in the implementation of PBIS.  Attendees are given information and an application to assist in preparation for the Annual State New Team training at the July Institute. 

New Team Training: Each year schools that wish to participate send a team of educators, including an administrator to the Maryland New Team Training, held in July.

Returning Team Summer Institute:  The PBIS Summer Institute takes place in July. MSDE has divided the local systems into regions for training. AACPS participates in Central Region 11 with three other schools systems

EVALUATION: AACPS PBIS teams are evaluated for fidelity of implementation with the School-Wide Evaluation Tool (SET) and the Benchmarks of Quality (BOQ). Teams self assess progress through the Implementation of Phases Inventory (IPI).