Writing a Positive Behavior Support Plan

What is the purpose of a written PBS Plan?

The written PBS plan is a guide for the people who are supporting the student who is engaging in problem behavior. A common assumption is that the PBS plan describes how the student will change his or her behavior. The real purpose of the PBS plan however, is to outline the steps that will be taken by the members of the team to modify the environment and teach the student new skills. The written document helps team members focus, establishes accountability for completing tasks, and ensures communication and consistent intervention implementation. In other words, the PBS plan describes how staff, parents, teachers, and other important team members will change their behavior. 

Why is important to focus on routines when describing interventions?

Effective PBS plans document how an intervention will be implemented within a student's specific daily routines. A plan that says, "Jane will be prompted to ask for help in class" is vague and does not provide the information necessary to intervene effectively. Clearly identifying a specific routine and describing exactly how the intervention should be implemented increases consistency across people. A routine may include specific types of homework assignments or class activities, a particular transition period, or the presence of particular people. In the example above, it may be more appropriate to write: "Jane will be prompted to ask for help with fine motor activities required during art projects and writing assignments in English. Jane's teacher will respond by immediately reinforcing Jane for requesting assistance and asking one of Jane's peers or a paraeducator to pair up with her on the task. Use information gathered in the functional behavioral assessment to describe successful routines and redesign problematic situations that have similarities. The interventions in the PBS plan should include enough detail that new team members will be able to understand and implement the interventions. A PBS plan is an active document that should be reviewed and consulted regularly, not a report to be filed away and forgotten.

How is the implementation plan conducted?

Each district and school has different formats for writing a PBS plan. These individual organizational requirements are a natural part of each school culture. Regardless of how a written PBS plan is organized, the following features should be included.

Critical Features of a PBS Plan

  1. Identifying information
  2. Student's positive characteristics
  3. Team's vision statement
  4. Definition(s) of problem behavior
  5. Summary of the functional behavioral assessment
  6. Interventions
    1. Setting event interventions
    2. Antecedent interventions
    3. Interventions for teaching new skills
    4. Consequence interventions
  7. Crisis prevention plan (if needed)
  8. Description of how the PBS plan will be evaluated
  9. Summary of any additional training needed
  10. Information about resources needed to implement the plan
  11. Sign off page for team members to indicate their acceptance and intention to carry out the PBS plan

Identifying Information
Identifying information describes who the plan is for and the team members involved in the process (e.g. student's name, date of birth, contact information, and the team members involved). Include the day the plan was developed and why it was needed for future reference. Written PBS plans can be an important resource for professionals supporting a student who has relocated to a new community or setting. 

Student's Positive Characteristics
Describing the student's positive characteristics and contributions helps keep the team focused on the strengths upon which a PBS plan should be created. 

Team Vision Statement
The PBS plan should include the team's expected vision for the student. This vision statement helps the team stay focused on the positive outcomes that will increase the student's quality of life. 

Definition(s) of Problem Behavior
The PBS plan includes clear definitions of each target behavior. Documenting each behavioral definition ensures that the team members implementing and evaluating the PBS plan will be focusing on the same issue. 

Summary of the Functional Behavioral Assessment
Briefly summarize the functional behavioral assessment to keep the team focused on the original hypothesis statement. Describe the four part hypothesis statement (including setting events, antecedents, problem behaviors, and consequences). 

Include information about each intervention in detail so that new teachers, paraeducators, or other team members can understand and implement them. In some cases, more complex PBS plans may include a one-page summary sheet so that the PBS plan can be reviewed quickly while interventions are being implemented. 

Crisis Prevention Plan
Crisis prevention plans are included in the PBS plan when a behavior can result in a health or safety risk to the student or others. The purpose of a crisis prevention plan is to reduce possibility of serious injury and to provide guidelines for intervening as early as possible in an escalating sequence of problem behaviors. Guidelines for interrupting and managing dangerous behavior should be outlined in the crisis prevention plan and training provided to those who may be involved in a possible crisis. A script describing common situations that have escalated into crises and guidelines for dealing the situation can be useful as well. 

PBS Evaluation Plan
A description of each outcome measure that is being used to evaluate a PBS plan should be included in a PBS plan. Remember to include data that will help you evaluate problem behaviors, new replacement behaviors, quality of life and how well the PBS plan fits the values, resources, and vision of the team (e.g. contextual fit). The Evaluating Effectiveness section of this module has more information about evaluating a PBS plan. 

Summary of Additional Training (if necessary). 
In more complicated cases, the team member with behavioral expertise may need to provide additional training to those implementing the plan. Training sessions can include a demonstration of how interventions are implemented and reflection and feedback sessions so team members can review how the session went. 

Resources Needed to Implement the PBS Plan
It is important for the team to realistically assess what resources are needed and to decide whether these resources are available before implementing a PBS plan. Make a list of the staff, materials, or equipment that are necessary to ensure that the PBS plan will be a success. 

Sign Off Page
A sign off page for team members helps to ensure that the team members involved are committed to the plan. Signing off on the plan means that the team approves of the interventions and will be committed to making sure the PBS plan is successful.