Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


Implementation of SW-PBIS and Students with Significant Disabilities... What the Research Tells Us We Should Be Teaching Our Pre-Service Teachers


Special Education, Foundations and Technology


College of Education

Date Range





The study highlights features of implementation of SW-PBIS in alternate educational settings serving students with significant disabilities. The presenters will highlight results useful for implementing SW-PBIS in schools serving students with significant disabilities as well as the skills and knowledge pre-service teachers need to develop to effectively implement SW-PBIS in alternate and typical K-12 settings. Historically, research related to the development of the PBS framework included a focus on individuals with significant disabilities, but more recently the research related to SW-PBIS has centered around the benefits of implementation in the K-12 system overall, and largely with students without disabilities (Hawken & ONeill, 2006). There appears to be a lingering assumption among professionals working with students with significant disabilities that responding to repeated problem behavior with increasingly severe consequences will result in the student finally getting it and in turn will cease to display the behavior (Sugai & Horner, 2006). However, research indicates that students with the most severe behaviors are least likely to be responsive to these consequences, and the intensity and frequency of behaviors is likely to increase rather than decrease (McCord, 1995; Shores et al., 1993 as cited in Sugai & Horner, 2006). The limited research available related to implementation of SW-PBIS with students with significant disabilities suggests that implementation of SW-PBIS can be an effective framework for promoting positive behavior, ensuring the fidelity of implementation of evidence-based interventions, and systematic data collection and data-based decision-making. Jolivette, McDaniel, Sprague, Swain-Bradway, & Parks Ennis (2012) suggest that observation of the absence of an articulated universal tier of prevention used with all students who are being educated in alternate settings, and a reliance on more intensive forms of intervention such as those found in tier two and three is common. The study conducted by Jolivette et al. (2012) found that in alternative educational settings there may be little or no differentiation of intervention intensity and there is an assumption among staff that all our students are tier 3 (p.17). This study also stated that in schools where second and third tier intervention practices and supports were already being implemented, tier two and three challenging behaviors decreased when tier one interventions were also used. However, according to Landers et al. (2012) students with severe disabilities are not often included in SW-PBIS due to physical separation from other students, programmatic separation from SW-PBIS procedures, and the separation of special education teachers during professional development opportunities. So although special education teachers may be able to successfully implement tier three interventions and supports with students with significant disabilities, the lack of implementation of tier one interventions and supports with these same students is problematic as tier one interventions provide the foundation for the other tiers and implementation of tier one interventions may decrease the need for tier two and three interventions. Simonsen, Jeffrey-Pearsall, Sugai & McCurdy (2011) state that experimental studies have demonstrated that schools implementing the practices of systems of the SWPBS framework with fidelity experience positive outcomes (p. 213). The aim of the session will be to share results of a recent study that examined implementation of SW-PBIS among students with significant disabilities being served in separate schools. An additional aim of the session will be to highlight and discuss how teacher education programs can develop the knowledge and skills in pre-service teachers required to effectively implement interventions and supports at all three levels for students with significant disabilities in separate and typical K-12 school settings.

Conference Name

TED Conference 2014: Crossroads: The Intersection of Competing Agendas

Conference Location

Indianapolis, IN

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