At PCSSD schools: PBIS improves behavior patterns

by Jessica Duff

The Pulaski County Special School District is integrating two new frameworks into district-wide practices. PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports) is a preventive framework which utilizes the Response to Intervention (RTI) model. This three-tier approach is to enhance academics and social behavior outcomes for all students.

“PBIS is an extension of our RTI approach that can improve upon and enhance our efforts in reaching our students where they are,” said PCSSD Superintendent Charles McNulty. “We will continue to work tirelessly to build a culture of inclusion and community throughout the Pulaski County Special School District.”

PBIS changes the focus to prevention from punishment to improve school safety and promote positive behavior with the understanding that kids can only meet behavior expectations if they know what the expectations are. Schools will still respond to inappropriate behavior, but the punishment isn’t the focus – instead the focus is on teaching expectations and prevention of inappropriate behavior.

PBIS is a three-tiered framework for improving and integrating all of the data, systems and practices affecting student outcomes every day. It is a way to support everyone – especially students with disabilities – to create the kind of schools where all students are successful.

RTI provides struggling learners with interventions at increasing levels of intensity to accelerate their rate of learning. Components of the process include high quality, scientifically-based classroom instructions, ongoing student assessment, tiered instruction and parent involvement in order to address each student’s specific needs.

The leadership team at Crystal Hill Elementary School.

All schools have developed three to five behavioral expectations that can be applied throughout the school building. For example, all of the Maumelle Feeder Schools have the behavior acronym of SWARM:

S – Successful

W – Winning Attitude

A – Accountable

R – Respectful

M – Motivated

SWARM is being implemented across ALL settings such as the cafeteria, hallway, bathroom, playground/common areas, etc. When asked, 96 percent of the students could explain their school’s behavioral expectations and what it meant for their school.

Currently, nearly three quarters of schools in PCSSD are at a 70 percent or higher level of PBIS implementation in the building. According to the schoolwide PBIS (also known as SWPBIS) Tiered Fidelity Inventory, a score of 70 percent or higher is accepted as an implementation level that will result in improved student outcomes.

The purpose of the SWPBIS Tiered Fidelity Inventory is to provide a valid, reliable and efficient measure of the extent to which school personnel are applying the core features of schoolwide positive behavioral interventions and supports. Each school’s PBIS team is administering the

Tiered Fidelity Inventory to help improve the implementation of PBIS.

PBIS isn’t a curriculum you purchase or something you learn during a one day professional development training. It is a commitment to addressing student behavior through systems change. When it’s implemented well, students achieve improved social and academic outcomes, schools experience reduced exclusionary discipline practices, and school personnel feel more effective.


Pulaski County Special School District spans more than 600 miles in central Arkansas and requires highly skilled and passionate personnel to adapt educational policies and personalization to 25 schools.

Every school is accredited by the Arkansas State Board of Education. PCSSD has served schools across Pulaski County since July 1927.

PCSSD is committed to creating a nationally recognized school district that assures that all students achieve at their maximum potential through collaborative, supportive and continuous efforts of all stakeholders.