Supporting Student Achievement through Sound Behavior Management Practices

Nicholas Read and Stephanie Lampron

Harsh, misapplied school discipline practices can have a negative impact and hinder student academic performance and progress. This is especially true for students with emotional and behavioral issues who act out in ways that school administrators and teachers find challenging.

Zero-tolerance school policies that remove youth from the classroom are resulting in an increasing number of students failing to complete high school and in unnecessary involvement in the juvenile justice system. As a result, there is a critical need for evidence-based behavior management approaches to proactively address behavior issues and support academic achievement in traditional community-based schools and secure residential care settings.

Supporting Student Achievement through Sound Behavior Management Practices in Schools and Juvenile Justice Facilities: A Spotlight on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is an issue brief that describes an evidence-based framework to address issues across educational settings. PBIS supplements core educational practices and creates more positive learning environments for all students.

The PBIS approach provides a range of supports for students depending on their needs and focuses on six components:

  1. Achieving consensus on expectations for appropriate student behavior.
  2. Involving all stakeholders in the development of discipline practices (including students, teachers, administrators, and parents).
  3. Reducing and eliminating reactive, punitive, and exclusionary discipline strategies in favor of those that are proactive, preventive, and skill-building.
  4. Teaching youth critical skills for managing interpersonal relationships.
  5. Providing consistent positive reinforcement to students when they meet or exceed performance criteria.
  6. Monitoring effectiveness of intervention strategies using data to continuously inform and improve practice.

Ideally, a strong behavioral support system—such as PBIS—would be applied not just in individual schools, but district- or state-wide

  • to keep all at-risk students in school and out of the juvenile justice system;
  • to provide needed support to students already in the system; and
  • to ensure continuity for students transitioning to community schools from residential placement.

Administrators and practitioners across educational settings could find that a behavior management framework like PBIS can make a difference for students.

The issue brief was developed by the National Evaluation and Technical Assistance Center for the Education of Children and Youth Who Are Neglected, Delinquent, or At-Risk (NDTAC). NDTAC provides information, resources, and direct technical assistance to school principals, teachers, superintendents, and leaders from local, state, and federal education departments who want to create better outcomes for young people who are neglected, delinquent, or at-risk of failing academically. It provides a forum for educators and policymakers to share their experiences and knowledge through collaborative meetings and peer-learning events.

NDTAC is managed by AIR and funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Student Achievement and School Accountability.