Classroom and Group Support
[Teacher Tools] [Case Studies]

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports

Positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS) is a major initiative in behavioral management that has developed over the past ten years in an effort to shift the focus of behavioral management from reactive, negative approaches to more proactive, positive ones. This philosophy shift has consistently demonstrated that it more effective in achieving long-term behavioral change and teaching appropriate behavioral skills. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) mandates the consideration of positive behavioral interventions and supports when a student’s behavior “impedes his or her learning or that of others” (Turnbull & Turnbull, 2000). PBIS is “an application of a behaviorally-based systems approach to enhance the capacity of schools, families, and communities to design effective environments that improve the link between research-validated practices and the environments in which teaching and learning occurs” It strives to make “problem behavior less effective, efficient, and relevant, and desired behavior more functional “(OSEP Technical Assistance Center for Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports, 2005,

PBIS includes primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention. Primary prevention includes universal interventions such as school and class-wide systems and focuses on students without serious problem behavior who account for approximately 80 to 90 percent of the student population. Secondary prevention includes specialized group interventions and focuses on students at risk for problem behavior who account for approximately five to 15 percent of the student population. Tertiary prevention includes specialized individual interventions and focuses on students with chronic, intense problem behavior who account for approximately one to seven percent of the student population.

Click here to view the PBIS triangle.

Classroom/Group Support

Many general education teachers have expressed that do not feel adequately prepared to address the behavioral challenges students with disabilities often present which results in resistance to providing inclusionary experiences for these children. Further education and training in research validated interventions for classroom group behavioral support will hopefully increase general educators’ confidence that they can effectively manage and improve the classroom behavior of all students resulting in an increase in inclusionary experiences and higher levels of academic performance.

Effective classroom and group support is based in the philosophy of positive behavioral interventions and supports. This section will focus on describing specific “teacher tools” for classroom and group behavioral support. As practitioners with over twenty years of combined experience teaching students with challenging behavior in a variety of settings, we have found these classwide and specialized group interventions to be effective. It is crucial to remember that these interventions are rarely used in isolation, but are combined with each other and other systems and strategies based on the unique characteristics of the group of students being targeted. The following “teacher tools” will be described in this section, including resources that give further information about the topic and behavioral management in general:

  1. Preventative Approaches
  2. Point and Level Systems
  3. Positive Reinforcement
  4. Logical Consequences
  5. Self-Management
  6. Peer-Assisted Interventions

References/Recommended Resources

Office of Special Education Programs Technical Assistance Center on Positive Behavioral
Interventions and Supports (2004). Retrieved January 4, 2005, from
Turnbull, H. R. & Turnbull, A.P. (2000). Free appropriate public education:
The law and children with disabilities. Denver: Love Publishing Company. 

Additional Overall Behavioral Management Recommended Resources

Alberto, P.A., & Troutman, A.C. (1995). Applied behavior analysis for teachers (4th ed.).
Columbus, OH: Merrill.
Kehle, T.J., Bray, M.W., & Theodore, L.A. (2000). A multi-component intervention
designed to reduce disruptive classroom behavior. Psychology in the Schools, 37(5), 
Maag, J.W. (1999). Behavior management: From theoretical implications to practical
applications. San Diego, CA: Singular Publishing Group Inc.
De Martin-Scully, D.D., Bray, M.A., & Kehle, T.J. (2000). A packaged intervention to
reduce disruptive behaviors in general education students. Psychology in the Schools, 
37(2), 149-56.
Rhode, G., Jenson, W.R., & Morgan, D.P. (2003). The tough kid new teacher kit:
Practical classroom management survival strategies for the new teacher. Longmont, 
Colorado: Sopris West.
Rhode, G., Jensen, W., & Reavis, H.K. (1996). The tough kid book: Practical classroom
management strategies. Longmont, Colorado: Sopris West.


Developed by Kaye Otten, PhD, University of Kansas Medical Center and Jodie Tuttle, M.Ed., Millard Public Schools

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