By Diana Nelson
Good behavior, we all know, pays off. And the Kyrene School District found confirmation of that truism with recognition for its success with a coveted U.S. Department of Education-inspired program.
Good student behavior in Kyrene earned recognition with an achievement award by the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports of Arizona.
Three schools in the district—Mariposa, Aprende and Paloma—received awards of merit for adopting a clearly defined PBIS framework, which supports the academic, social, emotional and behavioral competence of all students.
PBIS is an approach schools can use to improve school safety and to promote positive behavior. It also helps schools decide how to respond to a child who misbehaves.
At its core, PBIS calls on schools to teach kids about behavior, just as they would teach about any other subject—like reading or math.
PBIS guidelines realize that kids can only meet behavior expectations if they know what the expectations are—so, a key to a school successfully using PBIS is that everyone knows what’s appropriate behavior and what is not. No matter the activity—in class, at lunch and on the bus—kids understand what’s expected of them.
Kyrene de la Mariposa students earned kudos for their display of positive behavior and the program has led to a dramatic reduction in the number of referrals or discipline, according to Carolyn Payne, assistant principal.
“Mariposa’s PBIS framework has improved the academic and behavioral success for students in pre-school through the fifth grade,” said Payne. “Referrals have decreased significantly, by 52 percent, when comparing August 2018 to August 2019.”
And, all students benefit because the teachers are spending less time on correcting bad behavior.
“The use of common language, defined expectations that have been taught and reinforced, and monthly data monitoring have led to increased instructional time and a safer school climate,” said Payne.
The Mariposa staff uses specific guidelines to promote consistent and predictable behavior across the school, explained Payne.
“While praise is public, correction is private – with the focus on teaching behavior with dignity,” said Payne. “The PBIS expectations at Mariposa are: Be Respectful, Be Responsible, Be Safe.”
These expectations are reinforced daily and the frequent review of behavioral data, throughout the school year, helps staff to make adjustments in how to best teach the expectations.
Students also use the common language and know the appropriate behavior in every situation. They also receive positive reinforcement and recognition when they observe the consistent, outlined behavioral steps.
As an incentive, Mariposa staff created a spinning wheel that earns them specific prizes.
“Positive recognition includes earning a CHIP Cheer ticket for being respectful, responsible, or safe. Behavior steps include re-teaching and setting goals for success,” said Payne.
“And, students say they love spinning the wheel when their name is drawn and they like the choices offered on ways to spend their tickets.”
PBIS has a few important guiding principles: every child can learn proper behavior; tracking a child’s behavioral progress is important; and schools must gather and use data to make decisions about behavior problems.
According to the PBISAz website, earning a merit status indicates “a school’s commitment to improving the school’s climate by sharing fidelity data and their journey toward high success. School climate and safety matter, and the PBISAz Achievement Award is your badge of honor to show teachers, students and families how much you care.”
For their efforts, PBISAz provides participating schools with a poster and signage along with statewide recognition. In addition to the three schools in the Kyrene district, Tempe Elementary has 18 schools that received merit recognition. Seven were awarded silver, four were awarded bronze, and seven were honored with merit.