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PBIS showing results

LaGRANGE – In a short time, the Troup County Board of Education is already seeing progress with its new behavior intervention system.

The program is titled Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports and relies heavily on data collection to determine what is and is not working in terms of encouraging good behavior and discouraging disruptive behaviors in schools. Experts warned that the program has not been in place long enough to determine its full effectiveness but the results brought before the board on Thursday night indicated strong progress and fewer referrals at participating schools to date.

“(Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports) is a way to use data to drive decisions as it relates to decreasing office referrals and unwanted behaviors,” Director of Student Services Dr. Jacqueline Jones said. “PBIS is in line with our mission to educate all students in a challenging and safe learning environment so that they will become productive citizens in a diverse and changing world.”

The program has been used in other schools across the country for years, but it has only been implemented relatively recently within Troup County. School personnel at Berta Weathersbee Elementary School, Callaway Middle School, Ethel Kight Elementary School, Franklin Forest Elementary School, Gardner Newman Middle School and Hope Academy were trained in PBIS procedures in December 2016, though Schoolwide Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports began collecting information earlier.

“Just like we teach academics, we are going to teach the expected behaviors,” Jones said. “So, students are taught what we want you to do when you line up for car riders, what we want you to do when you are in the lunchroom, how we want you to transition in the hall, so every area of the school is covered, and that is driven by what the data is saying for every school. Because the traditional responses to behavior have been this: office referrals, detention, OSS (out of school suspension), ISS (in school suspension), individual counseling, therapy, implemented package programs, strict mandatory hearings, strict codes. But, those are not giving us the results that we want. We want children to be in school, so that they can receive instruction.”

The program focuses on strategies that they hope will prevent behaviors like those clear expectations and rewards for younger students and additional social time for older students.

Those strategies are credited with strong positive results at the schools with defiance referrals down more than 50 percent compared to last year at FFE, bullying referrals down to 7 this year from 27 last year at BWES, bullying referrals down 50 percent this year compared to last year at EKES and a high number of students at participating schools with no referrals or only one referral in a school year. EKES was named a PBIS Emerging School for its success with the program in the 2015 to 2016 school year.

In the program’s second year, Callaway Elementary School, Callaway High School, Hogansville Elementary School and Troup High School also began to use PBIS, and have also seen positive results in the short time that the program has been in place.

“This is a three to five-year process,” Jones said. “We’ve only committed for three years, and for us to be this far along at this point – I am really proud of the work that our schools have put in.”

Jones warned that the program was not a quick fix for behavior problems, but even in the short time that PBIS has been in use, schools where it is in use have noted a dramatic drop in the number of disciplinary cases.

“This is just real time results that we are seeing quickly, not eight or fjve years investment or a 10 year investment,” Board Member Brandon Brooks said.

The schools always need donations for their school stores where elementary and sometimes middle school students use their rewards to “buy” things like snacks, but mentors and volunteers are also needed to help run the school stores next year and reaffirm to students that their behavior matters.

The Troup County Board of Education is scheduled to meet again on Thursday, June 15 at 5:30 p.m. at 100 North Davis Road, Building C.