School-Wide Implementation of Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports and the Impact on Student Absences, Office Discipline Referrals, and Suspensions in Two Suburban Middle Schools
The literature shows that school attendance matters. Time engaged with instruction is highly correlated to student achievement (Brophy, 1988; Fisher et al., 2015; Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory, 2001). However, students who are suspended and expelled from school lose instructional time in the classroom (Belway, Hodson, Losen, Keith II, and Morrison, 2015; Scott and Barrett, 2004). Suspensions result in decreased student attendance by removing the student from the learning environment (Noltemeyer, Ward, and Mcloughlin, 2015). The use of in-school suspension (ISS), out-of-school suspension (OSS), and expulsion are referred to as exclusionary discipline (Belway et al., 2015). Educational leaders are unintentionally contributing to the achievement gaps that the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation intended to close by not addressing student suspensions and expulsions (Belway et al., 2015). This study used quantitative data with an ex post facto design to determine if the implementation of school-wide positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS) resulted in a change in student absences, office discipline referrals, and suspensions in one middle school and to determine what difference, if any, was there in student absences, office discipline referrals, and suspensions between a school implementing PBIS and a school not implementing PBIS. Two suburban middle schools in one Virginia school division were included in this study. Following the conceptual framework for this study, it was anticipated that implementation of PBIS would decrease student absences, office discipline referrals, and suspensions.
The results of the study revealed that there was a reduction in office discipline referrals following the first year of implementation in the PBIS Middle School. When comparing a school that implemented PBIS to one that did not, this study found that student suspensions decreased by the second year of implementation in the school that implemented PBIS. This study also yielded other findings that were inconsistent with existing research. The results of this study are of significance for education leaders who want to decrease student office discipline referrals and suspensions