Identifying Critical Incidents That Helped or Hindered the Sustainment of Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports in Schools (PBIS) with Five Years or more of Implementation in One School Division

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Virginia Tech


The purpose of this qualitative study was to identify critical incidents that helped or hindered the sustainment of Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) in schools with five years or more of implementation in one school division. This study highlighted information related to PBIS because of its comprehensive approach to school discipline. The research sought to answer the following questions:

  1. What critical incidents do building-based leadership team members indicate have helped the sustainment of PBIS?
  2. What critical incidents do building-based leadership team members indicate have hindered the sustainment of PBIS?

Participants of this study included one representative from five different building-based PBIS leadership teams from a school division in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Data were collected and analyzed to determine the building-based PBIS leadership team member's perception of what constituted the sustainment of PBIS, connection between a school's Tiered Fidelity Inventory score and sustainment, key components of implementing PBIS with fidelity, importance of implementing PBIS with fidelity, most challenging sustainable elements of fidelity, and least challenging sustainable elements of PBIS. This research will further contribute to the existing body of literature through a thorough description of critical incidents that have helped or hindered the sustainment of PBIS. Matthews, McIntosh, Frank, and May (2013) stated fidelity is the degree to which a new initiative is delivered as intended in order for PBIS to be sustained. The research identified a need for establishing a stronger understanding of core components of fidelity, establishment of a leadership team, staff buy-in, data driven decisions, and building capacity. Participants also indicated the essentialness of consistency in establishing and utilizing school-wide expectations. Leadership team members emphasized the importance of administrative support from initial stages of implementation through sustainment. In addition, the study found resources to be a vital component to the reward system of PBIS. Participants discussed struggles they endured without proper resources. Ongoing training was also designated as a critical component of sustaining PBIS. Participants similarly indicated the consistent use of data was essential to setting goals and action planning.



Sustaining PBIS, Fidelity, Critical Incidents