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Effects of PBIS on Elementary School Special Education Students Performance

Abstract

Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is a proactive approach to establishing the behavioral supports and social culture needed for all students in a school to achieve social, emotional and academic success (PBIS, 2018). The purpose of this research study was to investigate the impact of PBIS on the academic achievement and behavior of Special Education (SPED) students. SPED students often have a lower rate of academic achievement and higher incidences of disruptive behavior within the school setting.

Research was conducted to determine if there were any direct correlations between the implementation of the PBIS framework and increased student achievement on assessments like the Northwest Evaluation Association Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) and Renaissance Place STAR. Behavior was also evaluated using School Wide Information Systems (SWIS). Test results were examined, questionnaires administered to 29 SPED students and teachers, and six students were interviewed from the school of study.

Table of Contents

Section 1 Introduction……………………………………………………….5

Background and Statement of the Problem……………………………6

Significance of Study…..…………………….………………………..7

Statement of the Problem……………………………;………….……9

Establishing/Evaluating the Educational Program….……………….…9

Hypothesis……….………………………………………………….…11

Research Questions…………………………………………………..11

Definition of Terms…………………………………………………..12

Section 2 Review of the Literature……………………………………..….13

Introduction…………………………………………………………..13

Historical Perspective of PBIS…………………………………..…….14

Special Education Students and Academic Achievement…..………….16

Section 3 Action Research Design………………………………….…..…..20

Setting…………………………..…..…………………………………20

Participants..……….….………………………….……………………21

Data Gathering Methods………………………………………….…..21

Instruments and Procedures………………………………………..….22

Limitations and Ethical Considerations…………………….……..….23

Data Analysis……………………….…….……………………….…..24

Section 4 Data Analysis and Discussion….………………………..…….…25

Summary of Findings. …………….………………………………………32

Discussion. …………………………………….…………………..…..30

Limitations. ……………………………………………………….…….33

Section 5 Conclusion and Next Steps…………………………………….34

Conclusions…………………..…………………………….………34

Implications for Teaching and Administrative Practice ………….35

Sharing the Results of the Project..………………………………35

Implications for Further Research. ………………………..………35

Reflection and Visioning. ………………………..……,……..…..36

References………………………………………………………………..37

Section 1

Introduction

Educators have asserted that the task of educating students is increasingly more challenging as teachers are required to do much more than supervise their students’ academic growth (Wilson, 1995). Teachers are expected to assume new roles by proactively addressing not only the academic needs of students, but also the behavioral and social needs as well (Brannon, 2009). Teachers are mandated to provide coordinated instruction that consists of the school or district chosen academic curriculum and to deliver effective instruction within the vein of also providing behavioral, social or character education (Kirtman, 2002). Managing student needs is becoming more of a challenge as the classroom is no longer a place to simply deliver instruction.

Even as teachers accept more responsibility, a regressing of academic achievement, student misbehavior, defiance of school-wide policies and safety concerns are alarming variables that threaten to undermine their efforts (Oswald, Safran, & Johanson, 2005). The Individuals with Disability Education Act (IDEA) of 1997 acknowledged the correlation between student behaviors and academic achievement. Part of IDEA is The Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) that requires schools to recognize students with long-term behavior problems and institute strategies to intervene and stop the behaviors. The act also requires schools to create school-wide behavior intervention support to address student behaviors. (Gable, Butler, Walker-Bolton, & Tonelson, 2003)

 

Background and Statement of the Problem

Positive Behavioral Intervention and Support (PBIS) is one of the foremost advances in school-wide discipline, emphasizing systems of support that include proactive strategies for defining, teaching, and supporting appropriate student behaviors to create positive school environments (PBIS, 2018). PBIS models of intervention are widely utilized in schools across America and are becoming a valuable tool that districts use to  be more progressive in addressing academic achievement and student discipline (Sadler & Sugai, 2009).

The PBIS model is a proactive approach to developing and sustaining constructive relationships between students and faculty and promoting cooperative student behavior (Carr et al., 2002). According to Carr et al (2002), PBIS relates to behavioral science in that faculty interact with students based on the assumption a proactive, student-centered, focused intervention to consistently model appropriate behavior is the best method to change students’ behavior and promote academic advancement. As PBIS grows in popularity, it addresses the growing need to lessen negative behaviors and low-academic progress in public schools with data-driven applications for promoting more conducive environments for learning (Watts, 2016)

To further integrate PBIS in the school setting, maximizing stakeholder participation is a key component. When PBIS is implemented with the majority of participation from the cohesive whole of the school population, the integration is more effective (Carr et al., 2002).

School-Wide Positive Behavior Intervention Support (SWPBIS) is the school and district application of PBIS. The three-tiered model of prevention offers primary, secondary, and tertiary levels of support using academic and behavioral interventions (Scott, T.M., & Martinek, 2006) Each level of prevention increases and is a data-driven method to identify students at risk for academic struggles due to their behavior.

Data is tracked using a system called School-Wide Information System (SWIS). Through SWIS, school staff enter Office Discipline Referrals (ODR) online. The data is summarized to provide information about individual students, groups of students, or the entire student body over any time period. Research tells us educators can make more effective and efficient decisions when they have the right data in the right form at the right time (PBIS, 2018) This information is vital in placing students in the appropriate tiers and providing them with the appropriate intervention strategies.

Research has shown that the implementation of punishment, especially when it is used inconsistently and in the absence of other positive strategies, is ineffective (PBIS, 2018) Therefore, in Tier 1, introducing, modeling, and reinforcing positive social behavior is an important step in the education process. In PBIS this is done through a reward system, that includes tickets and ways to redeem them. Students are acknowledged for their positive behavior. Teaching behavioral expectations and rewarding students for following them is a much more positive approach than waiting for misbehavior to occur before responding (PBIS, 2018).

All three tiers are important to the success of PBIS. However, Tier 1 serves as the primary level of prevention; as educators attempt to keep approximately 80% of the school demographic at this level (Sugai et al., 2010) According to Sugai et al.(2000), in Tier 1, the goal is to prevent harm, while utilizing school and classroom-wide systems for all students, staff and settings. Sugai, et al. (2000) also states that this primary level is significant for school-wide application as it involves school staff, administrators, parents, and other stakeholders. Students are offered academic, behavioral, and social supports at this level.

Although Tier 1 is for all students, at-risk students receive the most benefit from Tier 1 of PBIS (Sugai & Horner, 2002). Students considered at-risk for failure are members of a particular demographic, such as special education. Faculty and staff are focused on recognizing and reinforcing positive behaviors of these students. This becomes especially important when attempting to build connections and relationships with students who struggle with achieving academic success and exhibiting appropriate behavior (Watts, 2016)

Significance of the Study

Teachers are expected to promote academic growth from all students, even with the challenges of learning disabilities, social and emotional problems, behavior issues, and lack of resources. This is a struggle even for the most veteran teacher. There is a significant achievement gap between special education (SPED)students and their peers. It is important to provide an appropriate educational environment for all students, including those with challenges, such as special education students.

The implementation of an effective school-wide intervention leads to beneficial outcomes for SPED students with academic and behavioral concerns (Ervin et al., 2001). PBIS focuses on creating more positive outcomes for SPED students who struggle with achieving academic and behavior progress (Warren et al., 2003).

Statement of the Problem

The purpose of the study was to determine how PBIS would affect the academic achievement and behavior of special education students. The problem addressed was that SPED students often struggle with academic success in a traditional school setting. It is  that implementation of the PBIS model can facilitate increased academic gains and positive behaviors for SPED students (Sugai & Horner, 2006).

Establishing/Evaluating the Educational Program

PBIS became important as schools and districts struggled with dealing with disruptive behavior that interrupted learning. Schools were more reactive than proactive. In the school that the research is based, PBIS was brought to the staff during spring of 2016. The district insisted that each school in the district would need to adopt a program that would establish positive behavior supports for students. The school decided to adopt PBIS.

Previous school practices included a model which often waited for a student to fail before providing support. Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS)is a school-wide management initiative that serves the purpose of teaching the students in an entire school community behavioral expectations in the same manner as teaching any other core subject. This is accomplished by providing students with an evidence-based academic and behavioral practices for improving the academic and behavioral outcomes for all students.

The school of study spent the 2016-2017 school year learning how to implement Tier 1 of the program. The Tier 1 team consisted of 14 members, including classroom teachers, special education teachers, secretaries, and parents. Tier 1 supports of positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS) consists of rules, routines, and physical arrangements that are developed and taught by school staff to prevent initial occurrences of behavior the school would like to target for change (PBIS, 2018). In preparation for the Tier 1 roll out for the 2017-2018 school year, posters and banners were purchased, teachers were trained, referral created, and a positive reinforcement system established.

PBIS Tier 1 for the study school was rolled out fall of the 2017-2018 school year. Students were taught the school rules in their classroom. They watched videos and participated in practicing the examples of positive behavior expectations. The reward “tickets” were distributed heavily, to reinforce the school tenets. A menu was created for students to select how they wanted to spend their tickets. The tickets could be redeemed every two weeks. In addition, the school of study started a bi-monthly spirit assembly to strengthen the school community.

As the year progressed, a new team was developed to implement Tier 2. The Tier 2 team is made up of two special education teachers, a speech pathologist and two classroom teachers (also on Tier 1 team). Although Tier 2 is not only special education students, SPED teachers possess background in certain behaviors, that would benefit the entire school. Also, our special education students need extra help when addressing behavior issues. As teachers, we must ensure that behavior is not a direct result of the disability (Sturdivant, 2018). Tier 2 support is designed to provide intensive or targeted interventions to support students who are not responding to Tier 1 support efforts (PBIS, 2018). The plan is to have PBIS completely in place by 2019-2020 school year.

The purpose for studying the effects of PBIS was to determine if the Tier 1 interventions could assist in increasing the academic achievement and improve behavior of SPED students. The researcher sought to measure the effect of the newly implemented PBIS on SPED students and compare those results to earlier cohorts of SPED students, before PBIS was implemented at the school.

Hypothesis

It was hypothesized that after a school implemented PBIS, the SPED students would show academic gains and behavioral improvement due to the positive behavioral intervention strategies used school-wide.

Research Question

  1. Do special education students who participated in the school wide PBIS program lose, maintain, or improve their NWEA RIT test scores for fall pre test 2016 through spring post test 2017, compared to fall pre test 2017 through spring post test 2018?
  2. Do special education students who participated in the school wide PBIS program lose, maintain, or improve their Renaissance Place STAR test scores for spring 2017 compared to spring 2018?
  3. Using SWIS data, how did PBIS affect the behavior of special education students in the elementary school of study?

 

Definition of Terms

Academic Achievement. This term describes the measurable educational outcome of a student, or extent a student has achieved the learning benchmarks of the curriculum (Glasser, 1999).

Special Education Students. These students have educational needs that require modified approaches to the teaching and learning process that allows for them to read educational goals (Raffael-Mendez, 2003)

Positive Behavior Intervention Support (PBIS). This commonly used behavior program rewards students for appropriate behavior. It is a school-wide intervention with expectations and systems to create an effective and beneficial academic environment. To facilitate, a group of faculty members and staff develop a matrix of universal expectations and procedures for all students and teachers in the school to follow. (Cregor, 2008)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Section 2

REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE

Introduction

The purpose of this project was to determine if School Wide Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (SW-PBIS) had an effect on the academic success and behavior of special education students. PBIS  is a set of research-based strategies used to increase positive behavior, decrease problem behavior and increase quality of life by teaching new skills and making changes in a person’s environment (PBIS, 2018). Special Educations (SPED) students often struggle with appropriate behavior in school. This can be due to social and emotional disabilities, learned coping mechanisms, or attention issues. The researcher discovered whether the implementation of  SW-PBIS at the school of study provided appropriate supports for SPED students, which ultimately affected their academics and behavior.

This review was conducted by locating, reading, and analyzing journal articles and their data. Literature was gathered using the National University library, and Eric databases. Keyword searches using “PBIS,” “special education,” and  “academic success.”

Historical Perspective of PBIS

Since Congress amended the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), “PBIS is the only approach to behavior that is specifically mentioned in the law.” (Positive Behaviors & Supports, 2018) At the time, requiring school districts and individual schools to intervene to help students who were not self-acclimating to the established school culture was an important endeavor to foster students’ academic success. (Glasser, 1999) Prior to IDEA, students with disabilities were excluded from educational opportunities for issues related to behavior.  Congress explicitly recognized the potential of PBIS to prevent exclusion and improve educational results in 20 U.S.C. § 1401(c)(5)(F):(5). Almost 30 years of research and experience has demonstrated that the education of children with disabilities can be made more effective by—(F) providing incentives for whole-school approaches, scientifically based early reading programs, positive behavioral interventions and supports, and early intervening services to reduce the need to label children as disabled in order to address the learning and behavioral needs of such children (PBIS, 2018).

Researchers and educational experts have long suggested American students were at risk for failure (Boynton & Boynton, 2006). In recent years, students’ academic success and school culture have both struggled to make gains. An effective tool to assist in this trend is PBIS. Researchers reported school culture could be the difference between a student’s success and failure (Boynton & Boynton, 2006).

PBIS is a framework that focuses on addressing the needs of students. The purpose of the implementation is to improve student academic and behavior outcomes by giving all students access to the most effective and accurate instructional and behavioral practices and interventions as possible (PBIS, 2018). According to PBIS.org (2018), “It is a decision making framework that helps guide selection, integration, and implementation of the best evidence-based academic and behavioral practices for improving important academic and behavior outcomes for all students.”

PBIS improves the quality of education for all students. Especially those with challenging social behaviors because it establishes clearly defined outcomes that relate to academic and social behavior, systems that support faculty efforts, practices that allow for student success, and data used to guide decision making (PBIS, 2018). Behavior, prosocial skills, and strategies for success are taught and encouraged in order to decrease inappropriate behavior. When inappropriate behavior is present within a school environment, the negative climate is often linked to loss of instruction, poor academic achievement, poor standardized test performance, and increased dropout rates (Paul V. Sherlock Center, 2010)

In elementary schools, PBIS has shown to be a beneficial intervention for students. The multi-tiered system of generalized support for all students and more focused support for students who present with escalating behaviors, allows for all student to flourish within an environment that is focused on learning and positive social outcomes for all. (Watts, 2016) According to Brannon (2009), research has shown that within primary grades, educators report an increased wellness of students, positive teaching and learning climates, and academic gains of students. Researchers have found that SW-PBIS when implemented with fidelity, addressed the behavior problems that impede student learning (Cregor, 2008; Hendley, 2007) Recent literature has found a link between student behavior and academic achievement and implementation of PBIS. Greenfield (2004), measured a link between increased academic achievement and disabled students who participated in SWPBIS. As a result of so many positive correlations between growth in academics and behavior and the implementation of PBIS, more school systems across the nation are using the intervention to help student achieve success.

Special Education Students and Academic Achievement

IDEA was enacted by Congress to ensure that children with disabilities have the opportunity to receive a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE), just like other children. As mandated by the statute, public schools are required to not only provide educational programs for learning disabled students, but also periodically evaluate those programs to ensure SPED students are achieving.

The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001 served as additional legislation of IDEA making all schools accountable for the academic performance of their students. The law required all students, regardless of their ability, to be held to rigorous standards and assessed to measure proficiency of achievement. In other words, students classified as SPED students or learning disabled were not exempt from the same rigorous performance standards as their non-disabled peers. (Watts, 2016) Unfortunately, even with the protection of IDEA and the guidelines of NCLB, students with learning disabilities sometimes do not achieve the same levels of academic proficiencies as their non disabled peers (Licht, Kistner, Ozkaragoz, Shapero, & Clausen, 1985) This caused a lot of undo stress and negative feelings from SPED students. Yewchuck (1992) found disabled students are more susceptible to having low self-esteem and confidence, which may lead to feelings of inadequacy, which may contribute to higher incidence of negative behaviors and lower academic achievement.

In 2015, President Obama signed the Every Student Students Succeed Act (ESSA). After the realization that NCLB’s prescriptive requirements were unworkable for educators and schools, the Obama administration joined a call from educators and families to create a better law that focused on the clear goal of fully preparing all students for success in college and careers. (US Department of Education, 2018) Unlike NCLB, ESSA aims to provide an equal opportunity for students who get special education services. It also emphasizes the use of preventative frameworks, including multi-tier systems of support (MTSS) and PBIS, to increase learner access to effective behavioral and academic instruction (Marx, 2016).

Schools are made up of students from various backgrounds and needs with the expectation that they will all be met with the resources and support that will help make them successful in school and life (Watts, 2016). However, schools aren’t always prepared to meet the needs of all students and the obligations that arise. SPED students often struggle with achieving academic success and maintaining positive behavior in the school setting. Administrators and educators must address these area of concerns with their students and provide the needed assistance to improve their academic and behavioral problems. The implementation of SWPBIS may prove to be a beneficial initiative for Special Education Students.

Walker, Ramsey, and Gresham (2003) noted, “The fact is, academic achievement and good behavior reinforce each other: Experiencing some success academically is related to decreases in acting out; conversely, learning positive behaviors is related to doing better academically” (p. 10) Implementation of PBIS has resulted in decreases in problem behavior and increases in academic achievement (Lewis & Sugai, 1999) reduction in office disciplinary referrals (Nelson, Martella & Marchand-Martella, 2002); and reduction of suspensions and expulsions (Sadler, 2000).  Several studies have reported good results from whole-school discipline programs (Langland, Palmer, & Sugai, 1998; Lewis, Sugai, & Colvin,1998; Luiselli, Putnam, & Handler, 18 2001), leading to several evidence – based and “best practice” recommendations (Walker et al., 1996). Researchers have reported that when both behavioral and instructional supports are provided, improvement increases in academic performance are seen (Horner, Sugai & Vincent, 2005; Lewis & Sugai, 1999; Schaughency & Goodman, 2003; Sugai, 2003).

Special Education students must be provided with an extended amount of support from their teachers. A number of researchers have found students with disabilities require schools to focus on helping to develop intrapersonal skills as well as interrelated personal characteristics that would benefit them academically and behaviorally (Owens, 2004). Hill & Coufal (2005) suggested SPED students needed special programs, such as School-Wide Positive Behavior Intervention and Support that address academic and behavior simultaneously, to have greater success in school.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Section 3

 

Action Research Design

 

The purpose of Section Three was to describe the action research design and procedures that were used to answer the research questions presented in Section One of this action research: (1)Do special education students who participated in the school wide PBIS program lose, maintain, or improve their NWEA RIT test scores for fall pre test 2016 through spring post test 2017, compared to fall pre test 2017 through spring post test 2018? (2) Do special education students who participated in the school wide PBIS program lose, maintain, or improve their Renaissance Place STAR test scores for spring 2017 compared to spring 2018? (3) Using SWIS data, how did PBIS affect the behavior of special education students in the elementary school of study?

PBIS is an important tool for schools to utilize with the purpose of measuring academic achievement and evaluating behaviors of students. Sugai and Horner (2006) believed that implementation and with fidelity of the SWPBIS model can facilitate increased gains and lower incidences of behavioral problems for Special Education Students. This study sought to determine if SWPBIS could be an asset for special education students who usually experience lower academic gains and behavioral problems.

Setting

The research took place in an elementary school with a population of 557 K-6 students. Special Education students represented approximately 10% of its population.

The school was located in a suburban community in Northern California with a population of 64,417. Parental involvement at the school of study was frequent and with high family support often available.

Participants

The action research examined 24 third, fourth, fifth, and sixth grade students in special education. Students ranged in age from 8-12 years of age with a variety of ability levels.

Data Gathering Methods and Procedures

Multiple methods of quantitative and qualitative designs were used to insure credibility through triangulation. According to Glanz (2014), “incorporating multiple sources of data is critical to ensuring a more accurate view of reality.” Special Education students’ academic and behavioral data was compiled from 2016-2017, the year prior to PBIS implementation, and 2017-2018 academic year, the first full year of implementation. The data analysis measured the academic success of students using the scores earned on the STAR reading assessment, and the NWEA MAP assessment. The quantitative data used measured the academic changes between the two academic year. The behavior data collected was from SWIS for the 2017-2018 school year and compared to 2016-2017 referral data received from the school archives. Qualitative data was collected from a Likert Scale questionnaire, collected from SPED students and the teachers at the site. The information reflected their perceptions and thoughts regarding PBIS and academic achievement.

 

Instruments

  •  Pretest and Posttest control group design, used Renaissance Place STAR reading assessment, Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) Measures for Academic Progress (MAP) assessment, and School Wide Information Systems (SWIS).
    • The rationale for using the pretest and posttest control group design is it, “allows you to draw conclusions about the effectiveness of the treatment.” (Glanz, 2014)
    • The data used was the Rasch Unit Score(RIT) for the NWEA-MAP, the Instructional Reading Level (IRL) for the STAR assessment, and Office Referral Data (ORD).
    • Tests used were from Spring 2017 and 2018.
  • Student Survey (Appendix A)
    • The rationale for administering surveys was to “ascertain attitudes about a particular issue or concern” (Glanz, 2014)
    • Statements were designed to measure students understanding of PBIS at their school and their feelings regarding the program, using the Likert model. They rated from strongly disagree to strongly agree.
    • Sample statements included:
      • I understand and follow the school expectations.
      • I am expected to follow the expectations of my school.
      • Expectations for behavior are enforced.
    • Students were given the questionnaire individually by their special education teacher to insure all students have the same access and the data is accurate.
  • Teacher Questionnaire (Appendix B)
    • The rationale for the questionnaire is it, “provides keen insights that might otherwise be overlooked or unrealized.” (Glanz, 2014)
    • Statements were designed to gain anonymous feedback regarding PBIS and how it affected student achievement and behavior through the eyes of a classroom teacher. The Likert scale was used with ratings of strongly disagree to strongly agree.
    • Sample statements include:
      • My school has clearly defined expectations for appropriate behavior.
      • Student compliance to rules and expectations is reinforced consistently in my school.
      • The hierarchy of consequences for inappropriate behavior is used consistently.
    • Teachers were given the questionnaire through email, using google forms. They were anonymous to insure the integrity of the results.

Limitations and Ethical Considerations

This study was conducted during the third trimester of the 2017-2018 school year. Student and teacher participants remained anonymous and were free not to participate in the study at any time. National University Institutional Review Board approval was not required.

A limitation in this study was the number of students analyzed for the research. Although the researcher found substantial results related to the effectiveness of PBIS, the population size of the students in this study was small, relative to the larger majority of the school of study’s population. Further research could be initiated in other schools within the school of study’s district.

Another limitation, could be at the time of the study, the researcher was employed as a teacher within the school and taught students that were involved in the study.

A benefit to this action research study was the additional information provided for the benefits of implementing PBIS at the site of study, specifically academic growth for SPED students.

Data Analysis

Data analysis took place during the third trimester of the 2017-2018 school year. Quantitative (survey, pretest and posttest data) and qualitative (survey) took place before and during the first year implementation of PBIS. Student data was analyzed and prepared for sharing with the site principal, site leadership team, and PBIS teams.

Section 4

Data Analysis and Discussion

The purpose of this research study was to investigate the impact of PBIS on the academic achievement and behavior of Special Education (SPED) students. Section Four presents the data analysis and discussion of the analysis as they relate to the research questions presented in Section One:

  • Do special education students who participated in the school wide PBIS program lose, maintain, or improve their NWEA RIT test scores for fall pre test 2016 through spring post test 2017, compared to fall pre test 2017 through spring post test 2018?
  • Do special education students who participated in the school wide PBIS program lose, maintain, or improve their Renaissance Place STAR test scores for spring 2017 compared to spring 2018?
  • Using SWIS data, how did PBIS affect the behavior of special education students in the elementary school of study?

To address the first two research questions, the researcher measured the MAP and STAR academic achievement of SPED students from the 2016-2017 academic school year and compared the data to the MAP and STAR academic achievement of SPED students from the 2017-2018 academic school year. To address the third research question, the researcher measured the frequency of Office Referrals for SPED students during the 2016-2017 school year before implementation of PBIS, and then measured the same behavioral data in the 2017-2018 school year after PBIS was in full implementation. The researcher also surveyed the teachers and students to gain insight into their participation, commitment, and understanding of PBIS at the school.

Findings

In order to answer the first two research questions, the researcher used quantitative measures to compare academic achievement of SPED students for the MAP and STAR assessments. The researcher used Independent t-tests to measure achievement for both assessments for SPED students from 2016-2017 and 2017-2018.

The researcher used quantitative analysis to measure the academic achievement of SPED students on their MAP and STAR exams from both school years. The MAP achievement scores of SPED students in 2016-2017 (M = 3.05, SD = 6.69) and 2017-2018 (M = 5.88, SD = 7.67) were compared using an independent samples t-test. There was not a significant difference between the two cohort groups, t = 0.87.

The STAR achievement scores of SPED students in 2016-2017 (M = 1.30, SD = 1.25) and 2017-2018 (M = .45, SD = 1.28) were compared using an independent sample t-test. There was a statistically significant difference between the two groups, t = -3.15, p < 0.18. Results of SPED students’ achievement on MAP and STAR assessments are displayed in Table 1.

Table 1

Special Education Students and Academic Achievement

STAR MAP S     M   S               M   S        M  S         M S     M
School Year M      SD  M      SD N 95% CI for Mean Difference  p 

value

t df
2016-2017 1.30  1.25 3.05    6.69 19    22 1.24       7.52  0.0002    0.02 4.55    2.42 18    21
2017-2018  .45   1.28 5.88    7.67 16   24 1.40       8.69  0.18    0.03 1.40   3.29 15   23

In order to answer the third research question, the researcher used quantitative measures to compare behavior if SPED students. The researcher measured historical data of referrals. Tables 2 shows the frequency of referrals for SPED students during the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 school years.

Table 2

Referral Data for 3rd-6th grade Special Education Students

2016-2017 2017-2018
Number of SPED students: 22 

Number of Referrals: 19

M: 0.86

SD: 321.63

Number of SPED students: 24 

Number of Referrals: 13

M: 0.54

SD: 156.63

The researcher also surveyed the teachers and students to gain insight into their participation, commitment, and understanding of PBIS at the school.

Teacher Survey. Teachers participated in a PBIS Satisfaction Survey by rating 16 statements on a Likert scale: 14 questions being: 1—Strongly Disagree, 2—Disagree, 3—Not Sure, 4—Agree, 5— Strongly Agree and 5 questions being: a scale from 1-10 as to how teachers felt with 1 being dissatisfied and 10 being very satisfied. The sample size for this research was 20 teachers, but only 14 of them completed the survey; therefore, the participation rate was 70%.

Results were calculated and reported using means and standard deviations. The mean score for on the PBIS Satisfaction Survey for the first 14 questions was 4.30 (SD .329). The mean and standard deviation for the first 14 items on the PBIS Satisfaction Survey was also calculated (Table 1). Statements with mean scores above 4.5 will be interpreted as Strongly Agree. Those with mean scores between 4.5 and 3.5 will be interpreted as Agree, while those between 3.5 and 2.5 will be interpreted as Not Sure (Neutral). Mean scores below 2.5 will be considered as Disagree. Based on the overall mean score of 4.30, most teachers in this study appeared to be satisfied with the PBIS behavior system.

To calculate the score for a survey, each statement’s rating number was added together for a total score. For example, the “Strongly Agree” statements equaled 5; the “Agree” statements equaled 4, etc. The scale for the surveys ranged from 47—66, with 47 being the lowest score and 66 being the highest score.

Table 3

Means and Standard Deviations for Teacher PBIS Satisfaction Survey Items

PBIS Survey Item Mean SD
My school has clearly defined expectations for appropriate behavior. 4.64 .34
I have taught the expectations to my students this year. 4.93 .63
Student compliance to rules and expectations is reinforced consistently in my school. 3.86 .44
The hierarchy of consequences for inappropriate behavior is used consistently. 3.93 .37
The office referral is easy to follow. 4 .3
I am satisfied with the process that is in place to discuss student behavior concerns in my school. 4.07 .23
I communicate with parents regarding their child’s behavior. 4.71 .41
I regularly receive data about behavior concerns across the school. 3.36 .94
Staff and students in this school show respect for each other. 4.29 .01
I feel safe and comfortable in this school. 4.64 .34
The students in my classroom feel safe and comfortable at this school. 4.71 .41
The students feel safe and comfortable in non-classroom settings. 4.42 .12
Overall, I feel the PBIS initiative has had a positive impact on student behavior. 4.36 .06
Overall, I feel the PBIS initiative has had a positive impact on teacher/staff behavior. 4.29 .01

For questions 15 and 16 on the PBIS Satisfaction Survey, the mean was 6.79 (SD 0.424). Statements with mean scores above 8.5 will be interpreted as Strong Impact. Those with mean scores between 8.5 and 7 will be interpreted as Impact, while those between 7 and 5.5 will be interpreted as Not Sure (Neutral). Mean scores below 5.5 will be considered as Lacking impact. Based on the overall mean score of 6.79, most teachers in this study appeared to be unsure as the impact PBIS is having on the school.

To calculate the score for the survey, each statement’s rating number was added together for a total score. For example, the “Strong Impact” statements equaled 10; the “Some Impact” statements equaled 8, etc. The scale for the surveys ranged from 89-101, with 89 being the lowest score and 101 being the highest score.

 

 

 

Table 4

Means and Standard Deviations for PBIS Satisfaction Survey Items 15-16

PBIS Survey Item Mean SD
To what extent do you think that PBIS impacts student behavior overall at Breen? 7.21 0.42
To what extent do you think that PBIS impacts student academic achievement overall at Breen? 6.36 0.43

Of the 14 teachers, 10 had SPED students in their classes. These teachers were asked an additional two questions. The mean for these questions was 6 (SD .3). Based on this information, it appears most teachers in this study that teach SPED students appeared to be unsure of the impact PBIS is having on them.

Student Survey. SPEDstudents in grades 3-6 participated in a PBIS Satisfaction Survey by rating 12 statements on a Likert scale: 1—Strongly Disagree, 2—Disagree, 3—Not Sure, 4—Agree, 5— Strongly Agree. The sample size for this research was 24 students, and all completed the survey; therefore, the participation rate was 100%.

Results were calculated and reported using means and standard deviations. The mean score for on the PBIS Satisfaction Survey for the 12 questions was 3.90 (SD .307). The mean and standard deviation for the 12 items on the Student PBIS Satisfaction Survey was also calculated (Table 4). Statements with mean scores above 4.5 will be interpreted as Strongly Agree. Those with mean scores between 4.5 and 3.5 will be interpreted as Agree, while those between 3.5 and 2.5 will be interpreted as Not Sure (Neutral). Mean scores below 2.5 will be considered as Disagree. Based on the overall mean score of 3.90, most SPED students in this study appeared to be unsure of the PBIS program at the school of study.

To calculate the score for a survey, each statement’s rating number was added together for a total score. For example, the “Strongly Agree” statements equaled 5; the “Agree” statements equaled 4, etc. The scale for the surveys ranged from 63—96, with 63 being the lowest score and 96 being the highest score.

Table 5

Means and Standard Deviations for Student PBIS Satisfaction Survey Items

PBIS Survey Items Mean SD
I understand the school expectations. 4.08 .18
 I follow the school expectations. 3.71 .19
 Students at our school are rewarded/acknowledged for appropriate behavior. 4.08 .18
 I am expected to follow the expectations at my school. 4.42 .52
The expectations for behavior are posted in my classroom. 4.25 .35
The expectations for behavior are enforced. 3.70 .20
My school has a plan for working with students who do not follow the expectations. 3.83 .07
In general, the environment at school is positive. 3.71 .19
Students in this school show respect for each other. 3.88 .20
Teachers in this school follow the school expectations. 4.25 .35
This school is a friendly place. 2.79 1.11
I feel safe and comfortable in my school. 4.04 .14

Summary of the Findings

This study sought to determine the impact PBIS had on the academic achievement and behavior of Special Education Students. Although PBIS was adopted to encourage positive behaviors, the researcher questioned how PBIS might also impact the academic achievement of SPED students from the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 school years. Through quantitative analysis the research measured academic achievement through two assessments, the MAP and STAR.

Academic Achievement Results

Research questions one and two sought to determine how PBIS impacted the academic achievement of SPED students.

SPED students’ MAP and STAR scores from 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 were measured using an independent samples t-test, and statistical significance was found for the STAR, but not the MAP. It was determined through further analysis of the data, that although there was statistical significance, students from 2016-2017 had a higher mean than those of 2017-2018. In contrast, students from 2017-2018 had a higher mean for MAP compared to 2016-2017; significance was found in the STAR assessment but not in the MAP.

Behavior Results

Research question three sought to determine how PBIS impacted the behavior of SPED students.

The researcher measured incidences of negative behavior during the 2016-2017 school year, before PBIS was implemented and during the 2017-2018 school year after PBIS was fully implemented. Historical data for incidences of behavior for SPED students showed a decrease in referrals after PBIS implementation. The data conveyed that the 22 SPED students in 2016-2017 received 19 Office Referrals, while the 24 SPED students in 2017-2018 received 13.

Limitations

This research was subject to limitations. For each school year studied, the small population was a significant limitation. Further research should be conducted in other schools with similar population sizes to determine the impact of PBIS.

A restructuring of building leadership resulted in a limitation for this study. During the 2017-2018 school year, a new principal was assigned to the school of research. It is possible that changes in leadership impacted the behavior frequencies of students and resulted in a limitation of study.

Another limitation of this study related to faculty members’ perceptions of PBIS and their willingness to participate in its implementation. The researcher presented all teachers with a survey instrument to complete to determine their feelings toward the implementation of PBIS at the school of study. Out of 20 teachers, only 14 completed the survey. Therefore, 70% of the teachers provided feedback into whether or not PBIS was being implemented as planned and with fidelity.

 

Section 5

Conclusions and Next Steps

The purpose of this research study was to investigate the impact of PBIS on the academic achievement and behavior of Special Education (SPED) students. Section Five presents the conclusion and next steps for the action research as they relate to the research questions presented in Section One:

  • Do special education students who participated in the school wide PBIS program lose, maintain, or improve their NWEA RIT test scores for fall pre test 2016 through spring post test 2017, compared to fall pre test 2017 through spring post test 2018?
  • Do special education students who participated in the school wide PBIS program lose, maintain, or improve their Renaissance Place STAR test scores for spring 2017 compared to spring 2018?
  • Using SWIS data, how did PBIS affect the behavior of special education students in the elementary school of study?

Conclusion

The initial significance of this study is that PBIS is not entirely sufficient to increase academic achievement and decrease negative behaviors in Special Education students. Although there were some measurable academic achievement gains and lowered incidences of negative behaviors after PBIS implementation, this research confirmed the need for PBIS to be implemented for an extended period of time in order to be meaningful and for teachers to reach pertinent conclusions regarding its usefulness.

Implications for Teaching and Administrative Practice

The implications for further study were obvious from having only data from the school year prior to implementation and the first school year of implementation. As previously mentioned, staff participation is an integral part of the success of PBIS in an educational setting. In this study 70% of the staff participated in a survey to gauge the participation and implementation of PBIS. The survey allowed the researcher to gain some insight in the areas of strength, weakness, and opportunities presented by PBIS implementation.

Sharing the Results of the Project

The results of the action project were shared with the site principal and the Tier I and II PBIS teams. The next steps will include continuing PBIS implementation. The school of study will be in its second year of SWPBIS. Tier II strategies will be readily available starting the 2018-2019 school year. Further training and support will also be provided for teachers in response to the teacher survey.

Implications for Further Research

It is clear that further research on the impact of school-wide behavior support on academic achievement is needed.  It is important to identify the behavioral methods that have the most significance on improvements in academic performance. Additional fieldwork would be to survey all students at the school of study, not just SPED students. A survey might offer insight into how well teachers teach and model the positive behaviors characteristics of PBIS and the students’ willingness to participate in its implementation.

Reflection and Visioning

As an educational leader it is important to use data to make informed decisions. Data is used in setting clear goals, managing curriculum, monitoring lesson plans, allocating resources, evaluating teachers regularly to promote student learning and growth, and managing student behavior. The action research problem-solving strategies used in this project have strengthened my leadership skills and knowledge. The insight I acquired during this project will provide me the foundation to be successful as a school administrator.

Table 6

Leadership Plan of Action

Leadership Plan of Action (LPA) 

Proposed Activities

Start Date End Date Aug/ 

Sept

Oct/ 

Nov

Dec/ 

Jan

Feb/ 

March

April/ 

May

June/ 

July

Share research findings, current school year (Principal and PBIS Tier I and II)
Administer PBIS student survey
Send out parent PBIS survey
Analyze survey information with Tier I team.
Present survey information to staff
Tier I team plan PBIS in response to survey information.
Progress monitoring and realignment PBIS programs for Tier I and II

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