About the Project

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Fund provider: Active citizens fund
Project number: 0004/2019/ACF/1
Realization period: 3/2020 – 2/2023
Thematic area: disadvantaged groups
Recipient: Czech Society for Inclusive Education

Project coordinator: Mgr. Anna Kubickova, anna.kubickova@cosiv.cz

About the project:

The aim of the project is to provide support for schools so they could build their own capacity to respond to the needs of vulnerable children and defend their rights. Support will be provided through the implementation of a PBIS framework, supporting children in following school behavior expectations and providing effective interventions to children in need of behavioral support. The PBIS framework helps schools to build a safe and predictable environment and involves students and parents in building positive school environment. The pilot implementation and adaptation of PBIS to Czech conditions will be carried out at three elementary schools with a higher proportion of children at risk. At the system level, the aim of the project is to incorporate the principles of PBIS into the educational content of universities preparing future teachers and within the further education of pedagogical staff. The project will be implemented in cooperation with experts from the USA and the Netherlands, who will provide professional training for future PBIS coaches and implementation teams in schools. Trained PBIS coaches for the Czech Republic will be then competent in disseminating the PBIS framework after completing their training. The project will also include several events for the general public, where the principles of PBIS and the benefits of implementing the PBIS framework not only for vulnerable children, but all pupils and school staff will be introduced.

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS)

Over thirty years of development

The Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports Framework (PBIS) is widely used in schools in the United States and is growing in popularity in Europe and around the world. It is based on more than thirty years of research and development. The concept of the basic principles of PBIS began to emerge in the 1980s in the USA. Researchers from the University of Oregon have found, based on a number of studies, what it is essential for effective treatment of challenging behavior at school:

  • Prevention
  • Application of evidence-based practices
  • Data-driven decision making
  • School-wide approach
  • Teaching social skills
  • Team implementation and professional development of employees

PBIS represents a sophisticated framework integrating all these elements, thus enabling the establishment of a continuum of EB interventions contributing to the educational and social success of all pupils in school. PBIS is conceived as a multi-level system that provides universal behavioral support for all pupils in the school, targeted support for groups of pupils showing a need for more intensive support and individual support for pupils for whom targeted group support is insufficient. PBIS is currently being used in more than 25,000 schools in the United States, and more than 30 national PBIS networks have been established around the world.

Behavior is learned

PBIS builds on a person's nature to respond to their environment through certain behaviors. Its main concept is that behavior should be taught similarly to academical subjects. The primary procedure is thus learning and practicing positively formulated school-wide expectations. The student should then act in every situation accordingly to these expectations. The application of expected behavior is initially intensively practiced with the pupils in various school settings. During the school year, it is strengthened by positive reinforcement and practice. At the beginning of the school year, pupils should learn in an interactive way that, for example, responsibility is manifested in class by raising your hand before speaking, in the washroom by using disposable paper towels and in the cafeteria by taking a tray of leftovers to a designated place. School-wide behavioral expectations are learned by practicing examples and non-examples of typical behavior in given settings (classroom, locker room, playground, school bus, cafeteria…). Research shows that students learn new behavior on average after eight repetitions. If a student is to change inappropriate behavior, the new behavior must be repeated almost thirty times on average. Furthermore, research has shown that this proactive approach is more effective in preventing challenging behavior than the use of restrictive procedures (penalties, notes, refferals).

Intensity of behavioral support according to actual need

The school-wide support described above applies to all pupils in the school. This universal level of support is beneficial for all, but it’s lower intensity will not be sufficient for 10 to 20% of pupils. These pupils will need either more intensive forms of group support (tier II support) or highly individualized support based on a more detailed diagnosis of the pupil's situation (tier III support) to significantly improve behavior. The targeted support in tier II. will be sufficient for about 5 to 15% of pupils. Individually set support in tier III. will be needed for 1 to 5% of pupils. More intensive support is not determined on the basis of the student's long-term diagnosis but responds flexibly to changes in the student's behavior.Pupils in need of more intensive behavioral support are identified through simple collection and analysis of school behavior data. The evaluation of the selected intervention effectiveness is also being conducted based on data collection and analysis and can be gradually terminated, modified or intensified after 6 to 8 weeks.

Teachers know what to do when…

The PBIS system also introduces appropriate ways to respond to occasional mild behavioral problems as well as more severe manifestations of challenging behavior. With the correct application of these procedures, the occurrence of challenging behavior at school can be significantly reduced or completely eliminated. The recommended procedures of the teacher's reactions to the pupils' behavior as well as the interventions applied in the PBIS system are based on research evidence of their effectiveness.

How does PBIS help vulnerable children?

The behavior of children living in difficult conditions is significantly influenced by their situation. Long-term or intense adverse experiences in childhood significantly affect the development of children's brains and have a negative impact on all components of their lives, including the ability to learn and thrive socially at school. The CDC-Kaiser Permanente study (ACE Study, 1995-1997) showed a high prevalence of adverse childhood experiences in the population and their long-term effects on the mental health, education and social success of those who experienced them. It confirms, inter alia, the need to take a systematic, school-wide approach to supporting children's functional behavior instead of providing support only to those children who have been exposed to developmental trauma. School environment that can significantly affect a child's behavior since the child spends in school majority of the outside-family time. As mentioned above, long-term or intense experience of adverse experiences disrupts the child's psychosocial development, which is reflected in their behavior. If the teacher reacts to the manifestations of the child's challenging behavior in an inappropriate way, they can deepen child’s problems with their approach. The PBIS system establishes effective support for expected behavior and at the same time provides teachers with a set of possible responses to the challenging behavior of children, which can prevent the fixation of challenging behavior while not aggravating the child’s trauma. It is also possible to implement procedures in the PBIS system to help identify pupils' problems related to their family environment and provide them with appropriate support.

The project is being supported by the Committee of Good Will – the Olga Havel Foundation from the Active Citizens Fund. The programme promotes citizens’ active participation in the public life and decision making and empowerment of vulnerable groups. The Active Citizens Fund is financed from EEA and Norway Grants.

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