Districts, Schools and Educators

Over 800 Minnesota schools creating positively great results with Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS)

Eagles “SOAR?” Lake Benton Bobcats? Nicollet Jr. High’s “FIRE?” What is Tiger Pride and why in the world is that principal sleeping on the roof of his building?  

Apollo High School in St. Cloud, Lake Benton Elementary, North Elementary in Princeton… these are just a few examples of the hundreds of schools implementing Schoolwide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (SW-PBIS). Don't let the fun and playful names fool you; these are schools that have spent up to two years in team training, with continued coaching and evaluation to implement and sustain this work. The result? A comprehensive, data-driven system to support educational practices that ensure all students, staff and families are working from the same playbook when it comes to supporting positive behavior and academic achievement.

Key features of PBIS that are defined in Minnesota Statutes, section 122A.627, Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, include:

establishing, defining, teaching, and practicing three to five positively stated schoolwide behavioral expectations that are representative of the local community and cultures;

  1. developing and implementing a consistent system used by all staff to provide positive feedback and acknowledgment for students who display schoolwide behavioral expectations;
  2. developing and implementing a consistent and specialized support system for students who do not display behaviors representative of schoolwide positive expectations;
  3. developing a system to support decisions based on data related to student progress, effective implementation of behavioral practices, and screening for students requiring additional behavior supports;
  4. using a continuum of evidence-based interventions that is integrated and aligned to support academic and behavioral success for all students; and
  5. using a team-based approach to support effective implementation, monitor progress, and evaluate outcomes.

What happens if we take that educational approach to social skills and behavior? When you walk into a school implementing PBIS, you're likely to identify the school’s positive expectations within five minutes. Maybe ask a staff member or student as they welcome you into their building to tell you about the expectations.

It might be SOAR (Safety, Optimism, Acceptance and Respect) that you observe when visiting Apollo High School in St. Cloud. Perhaps you will be lucky enough to see Lake Benton’s Bobcat celebrating with students and staff for demonstrating their ground rules of “Respect Yourself, Respect Others, Respect Property and be Responsible for Your Own Behavior” throughout the school. Perhaps it starts to make sense when the principal at North Elementary in Princeton spends a chilly night atop his school to celebrate reaching a school goal for consistently demonstrating respecting themselves, others, community and property. Maybe you surf the school’s website and notice how Nicollet Junior High’s Intervenciones de Comportamiento Positivos y otro tipo de Apoyos made their expectations of Focus, Integrity, Responsibility and Excellence accessible to all students and families whose primary language is Spanish.

Currently 39% of schools in Minnesota have received training, coaching and technical assistance to implement PBIS. Each year, the number of schools increases. And for good reason — the data tells a story of reductions in behavioral problems and suspensions leaving more time for learning.

Minnesota SW-PBIS has begun Cohort 16 training in August 2020 for newly accepted schools. Applications for the next cohort are available on the PBIS Minnesota website and are due in February each school year.

The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE), in partnership with the National Technical Assistance Center on PBIS; Regional Implementation Projects in the North, Metro and South; and our evaluation partners have worked collaboratively and grown rapidly over the past 16 years (view the National Technical Assistance Center on PBIS website, http://www.pbis.org). The growth of PBIS in Minnesota reflects the creativity, collaboration and hard work of a broad constituency of trainers, coaches, practitioners, families, stakeholders, teachers, students, advocates, researchers, volunteers and administrators.

Training is conducted in partnership with the Regional Implementation Projects and evaluation partners, funded by MDE. Schools are required to identify a team, generate staff buy-in, demonstrate administrative support, commit to attend all nine sessions over the two years and regularly collect information on outcomes, implementation and effort.

PBIS is identified in Minnesota's Olmstead Plan as a strategy for increasing the percentage of students with disabilities receiving education in the most integrated setting. For more information, visit MDE's Olmstead Plan on MDE’s Special Education webpage.

For more information about Minnesota’s PBIS efforts, see the PBIS Minnesota website (http://www.pbismn.org) or email mde.pbis@state.mn.us.