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An assessment of the evidence-base for school-wide positive behavior support.


The use of SWPBS SWPBS School-Wide Positive Behavior Support  has increased quite rapidly across schools. This is happening against a backdrop Backdrop may refer to:
  • Theatrical scenery
  • Filming location
  • A pro wrestling move that's also called a belly to back suplex.
  • The Back Drop Club, website with BDSM resources, including BDSM related .
 of enthusiasm among policymakers, researchers and practitioners about the use of evidence-based practices in school settings. As SWPBS continues to attract the interest of school personnel it is necessary to look at this approach and examine its evidence base. This study was an attempt to extend previous work to that effect. Like previous efforts, this study demonstrated that although SWPBS has become quite popular, the evidence base may still be classified as promising. Research on SWPBS has to address many methodological limitations to strengthen its evidence base.

KEYWORDS: Positive behavior support Positive behavior support strives to use a system to understand what maintains an individual’s challenging behavior. Students’ inappropriate behaviors are difficult to change because they are functional, they serve a purpose for the child. , school-wide, evidence-based

As violent behavior in our schools reaches critical proportions (Safran SAFRAN (Euronext: SAF) is a French conglomerate company involved in defense, aerospace propulsion and equipment, communication and security. It results of the merger of the propulsion and aerospace equipment group SNECMA and defense conglomerate SAGEM.  & Oswald Oswald

believes Edmund’s false charges against Edgar. [Br. Lit.: King Lear]

See : Gullibility
, 2003), policymakers, school administrators, teachers and families face a mammoth mammoth, name for several large prehistoric elephants of the extinct genus Mammuthus, which ranged over Eurasia and North America in the Pleistocene epoch.  task to create violence-free school environments (Horner & Sugai, 2000; Taylor-Greene et al., 1997). This concern was heightened by the 1998 White House mandate that called for safe school environments (Dwyer, Osher & Warger, 1998; Horner & Sugai, 2000). Unfortunately, the traditional punitive pu·ni·tive  
Inflicting or aiming to inflict punishment; punishing.

[Medieval Latin pn
 and reactive practices, such as suspension or expulsion EXPULSION. The act of depriving a member of a body politic, corporate, or of a society, of his right of membership therein, by the vote of such body or society, for some violation of hi's.  of the student perpetrators, have not been effective in addressing this problem (Morgan-D'Atrio, Northup, LaFleur, & Spera, 1996; Scheuerman & Hall, 2012; Taylor-Greene et al, 1997) prompting the search for alternative ways of handling dangerous behavior in schools. One of the approaches that has emerged out of this search is the use of school-wide positive behavior supports (SWPBS).

SWPBS is a systems approach that derives from the principles of applied behavior analysis Some of the information in this article may not be verified by . It should be checked for inaccuracies and modified to cite reliable sources.

Applied behavior analysis (ABA)
. The approach aims to establish a safe school environment and a positive school culture that supports positive behavioral behavioral

pertaining to behavior.

behavioral disorders
see vice.

behavioral seizure
see psychomotor seizure.
 and academic outcomes for all students. According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

 Sugai and Horner (2002), SWPBS is based on data-driven decision making targeting measurable outcomes that can be attributed to specific practices implemented across settings capable of supporting these practices. The approach requires school personnel to "define, teach, and reward expected behaviors, develop peer support systems, and implement clear consequences for inappropriate behavior" (Taylor-Greene et al., 1997, p. 100) and is usually implemented across three tiers--primary, secondary and tertiary tertiary (tûr`shēârē), in the Roman Catholic Church, member of a third order. The third orders are chiefly supplements of the friars—Franciscans (the most numerous), Dominicans, and Carmelites.  (see Lane, Robertson Rob·ert·son   , Oscar Palmer Born 1938.

American basketball player. As a guard for the Cincinnati Royals, he became in 1962 the only player in National Basketball Association history to average in double figures in scoring, rebounding, and assists.
, & Graham-Bailey, 2006 as well as Sugai et al., 2000 for a description of these tiers).

There is a growing body of research supporting the efficacy of SWPBS in reducing challenging behavior in schools (Bradshaw, Mitchell Mitchell, city (1990 pop. 13,798), seat of Davison co., SE S.Dak.; inc. 1881. Mitchell is a trade, distribution, and shipping center for a dairy and livestock area.  & Leaf, 2010; Bradshaw, Reinke, Brown, Bevans, & Leaf, 2008; Taylor-Greene & Kartub, 2000; Taylor-Greene et al., 1997) and promoting the academic achievement of students (Horner et al., 2009; Lassen Lassen may mean:
  • Lassen Peak, a volcano in Lassen Volcanic National Park
  • Lassen County, California, near the national park
  • USS Lassen (DDG-82), a US destroyer
  • Anders Lassen, Danish recipient of the British Victoria Cross
, Steele, & Sailor Person who navigates ships or assists in the conduct, maintenance, or service of ships.

Sailors have historically received special treatment under the law because of the nature of their work.
, 2006). Not surprisingly, at least 13,000 schools in the U.S. were adopting SWPBS by 2010 (Homer Homer, principal figure of ancient Greek literature; the first European poet. Works, Life, and Legends

Two epic poems are attributed to Homer, the Iliad and the Odyssey.
, Sugai, & Anderson Anderson, river, Canada
Anderson, river, c.465 mi (750 km) long, rising in several lakes in N central Northwest Territories, Canada. It meanders north and west before receiving the Carnwath River and flowing north to Liverpool Bay, an arm of the Arctic
, 2010). However, the recent No Child Left Behind Act The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (Public Law 107-110), commonly known as NCLB (IPA: /ˈnɪkəlbiː/), is a United States federal law that was passed in the House of Representatives on May 23, 2001  calls for school personnel to use research validated val·i·date  
tr.v. val·i·dat·ed, val·i·dat·ing, val·i·dates
1. To declare or make legally valid.

2. To mark with an indication of official sanction.

 practices in school settings. Consequently, some researchers are questioning the solidity so·lid·i·ty  
1. The condition or property of being solid.

2. Soundness of mind, moral character, or finances.

Noun 1.
 of the evidence behind SWPBS (e.g., Lane et al, 2006). Lane et al. (2006) examined the methodological considerations of SWPBS studies published between 1990 and 2005 to determine the quality of that research. Specifically, Lane et al. (2006) reviewed 14 articles representing studies across 63 schools for secondary students. They examined SWPBS in relation to school characteristics, intervention A procedure used in a lawsuit by which the court allows a third person who was not originally a party to the suit to become a party, by joining with either the plaintiff or the defendant.  focus and components, research design, reliability and validity issues, and intervention outcomes. They found several methodological limitations which included limited demographic information provided on the participating schools, insufficient description of the interventions that would promote replication In database management, the ability to keep distributed databases synchronized by routinely copying the entire database or subsets of the database to other servers in the network.

There are various replication methods.
 of the studies, mostly descriptive research Descriptive research, also known as statistical research, describes data and characteristics about the population or phenomenon being studied. Descriptive research answers the questions who, what, where, when and how.  designs, and lack of reliability and validity information presented with the outcomes measures. As a result of these limitations, Lane et al. (2006) concluded that "although many of the [SWPBS] investigations produced desirable outcomes ... a number of methodological limitations limit the ability to draw accurate conclusions about intervention outcomes" (p. 186).

More recently, Horner et al. (2010) conducted a similar review of studies published between 2000 and 2009, albeit using a different approach, and reached a different conclusion. According to Horner et al. (2010) "the overall [SWPBS] approach carries sufficient experimental documentation to be classified as evidence based and to warrant large scale implementation" (p. 11). Clearly, there appears to be a discrepancy DISCREPANCY. A difference between one thing and another, between one writing and another; a variance. (q.v.)
     2. Discrepancies are material and immaterial.
 between these two conclusions. While Horner et al. (2010) stated that there is sufficient experimental evidence to support the efficacy of SWPBS, Lane et al. (2006) concluded that many "methodological limitations limit the ability to draw accurate conclusions about intervention outcomes" (p. 186). The question whether SWPBS can be considered evidence based is still largely unanswered. In trying to answer this question Horner et al. (2010) proposed criteria for determining whether a practice is evidence based or not, which they used in their review to reach at the afore-mentioned conclusion.

The criteria Horner et al. (2010) proposed included the following five elements five elements, fire, water, earth, wood, and metal; in Chinese medicine, each of these five components is used to organize phenomena for use in clinical applications. Each of the elements corresponds to a specific function (i.e.
: (a) the practice and participants are defined with operational precision, (b) the research employs valid and reliable measures, (c) the research is grounded in rigorous designs, (d) the research documents experimental effects without iatrogenic iatrogenic /iat·ro·gen·ic/ (i-a´tro-jen´ik) resulting from the activity of physicians; said of any adverse condition in a patient resulting from treatment by a physician or surgeon.  outcomes, and (e) the research documents effects. The criteria apply "primarily to the consideration of individual studies" (p. 6). However, Horner et al. (2010) applied the criteria to the SWPBS research body in concert and not to individual studies separately. Unfortunately/doing so may create a false impression about the solidity of the research behind SWPBS because studies that fulfill ful·fill also ful·fil  
tr.v. ful·filled, ful·fill·ing, ful·fills also ful·fils
1. To bring into actuality; effect: fulfilled their promises.

 one of the quality indicators may be cited to support the body of research when those studies may actually have fundamental methodological flaws. Thus, as Horner et al. (2010) acknowledge, applying the criteria to individual studies may yield a better assessment of the evidence behind SWPBS.

This study sought to extend the work of Horner et al. (2010) in assessing the evidence base for SWPBS. However, unlike in the Horner et al. (2010) study, in this study the proposed criteria were applied to individual studies. It is anticipated that such an examination will contribute to scholarship on SWPBS by highlighting strengths and weaknesses of the research behind this approach. In doing so, we will be able to determine the extent to which SWPBS should be considered evidence based and possibly identify ways to strengthen that body of evidence.


Inclusion Criteria
For Wikipedia's inclusion criteria, see: What Wikipedia is not.

Inclusion criteria are a set of conditions that must be met in order to participate in a clinical trial.

Articles that were included in this review reported primary level (see Lane et al., 2006) behavioral interventions targeting all students in the school. The articles were experimental studies that reported student outcomes and were published in a peer-reviewed journal peer-reviewed journal Refereed journal Academia A professional journal that only publishes articles subjected to a rigorous peer validity review process. Cf Throwaway journal.  between the years 1990 and July 2011.

The articles were first located through an online search using ERIC, PsychInfo and EBSCO EBSCO Elton B. Stephens Company . Next, a list of journals publishing the articles identified from this search was generated and another online search of the journals' websites was conducted. Any missing journals were searched through collections of print copies. Articles included in this review came from the following journals: Psychology in the Schools, Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, Education and Treatment of Children, British Journal of Educational Psychology, and the American Educational Research Journal.


A matrix for coding the articles was developed based on the criteria proposed by Horner et al. (2010), that include the following five elements: (a) the practice and participants are defined with operational precision, (b) the research employs valid and reliable measures, (c) the research is grounded in rigorous designs, (d) the research documents experimental effects without iatrogenic outcomes, and (e) the research documents effects. Each of these criteria are defined below based on descriptions provided by Horner et al. (2010).

The practice and participants are defined with operational precision. According to Horner et al. (2010), a study that meets this criterion has to "define the practice (or component practices) with precision to allow replication" (p. 7). In addition, the study has to define both the children and adults (e.g., school personnel) in the study in operational terms that would allow replication. Thus, to determine whether the studies met this criterion each study was coded "yes", "no", or "not clear" in response to each of the three questions: Is the intervention defined with operational precision to allow replication of the study? Are the children in the study described operationally to allow replication of the study? Are the adults (e.g., school personnel) in the study described operationally to allow replication of the study?

The research employs valid and reliable measures. This criterion referred to whether a study used a combination of "standardized assessment measures and direct observation of student behavior to assess effects." (Horner et al., 2010, p. 7). Studies were therefore coded on whether the measures used would be considered valid and reliable (at least 80%) for the variables they measured. Also included in Horner et al.'s (2010) criterion were specific indices of fidelity, such as the School-wide Evaluation Tool (SET). Studies were coded "yes", "no", or "not clear" on whether they used a valid and reliable measure (e.g., SET) to assess fidelity. "Not clear" meant that reliability and/or validity measures were described, but did not report sufficient data to assess reliability and/or validity. Studies were also coded "yes", "no", or "not clear" on whether they used a combination of specific indices (e.g., direct observation, office discipline referrals [ODRs], and academic outcomes) to assess effect. "Not clear" meant that it could not be determined from the presented data whether the researchers used a combination of indices for outcomes.

The research is grounded in rigorous designs. Horner et al.'s (2010) definition included both randomized ran·dom·ize  
tr.v. ran·dom·ized, ran·dom·iz·ing, ran·dom·iz·es
To make random in arrangement, especially in order to control the variables in an experiment.
 control group designs and single-case designs. Thus, studies were coded "yes," "no," or "not clear" on each of four indicators (i.e. whether they used randomized control trials, whether all possible threats to internal and external validity External validity is a form of experimental validity.[1] An experiment is said to possess external validity if the experiment’s results hold across different experimental settings, procedures and participants.  were controlled, and whether the data analysis techniques used were relevant and appropriate in addressing the research questions asked). "Not clear" meant that the researchers provided ambiguous information about the experimental groups and procedures used in the study, but was not sufficient to make a judgment about the type of design used.

The research documents experimental effects without iatrogenic outcomes. This criterion refers to whether a study demonstrates that implementation of SWPBS resulted in positive student outcomes without any negative effects. Studies were therefore coded "yes" if they reported positive student outcomes without any negative effects. If a study reported any negative effects it was coded "no". Further, effect sizes were calculated for each study to determine the social significance of the effects. "Not clear" was coded if the data provided were not sufficient to calculate effect size (i.e., the researchers did not report data such as the standard deviations and means for either baseline The horizontal line to which the bottoms of lowercase characters (without descenders) are aligned. See typeface.

baseline - released version
 and intervention condition or control and treatment groups).

The research documents effects. In order to meet this criterion a study has to demonstrate two indicators namely sustainability which was determined by high implementation fidelity and consistent administrative support. Consistent administrative support is defined to mean administration involvement in data collection and decision-making as well as social validity measures reporting administrative satisfaction. Each study was coded "yes," "no," or "not clear" on whether there was consistent administrative support. For fidelity, if a fidelity index of at least 80% is reported and follows conventional procedures for calculating interrater-agreement it was coded "yes"; studies were coded "no" if they did not meet this condition. If fidelity is not reported as some index, but is explicitly measured, it was coded "not clear."

Inter-rater Agreement

The first and second authors served as raters for inter-rater agreement. Prior to the coding, the raters discussed the criteria and reached an agreement on each to ensure uniform application of the criteria. Inter-rater agreement was calculated for all ratings by dividing the total number of agreements by the total number of agreements plus disagreements and multiplying the result by 100. Inter-rater agreement was 84.5%. After the inter-rater agreement was calculated, the raters discussed the disagreements and reached an agreement on each of them. The raters mostly disagreed on "not clear" which may reflect a not-so-clear definition of that category.


The search generated a total of 34 articles. Twenty four of the studies were descriptive non-experimental studies mostly based on the AB single-case design. Because descriptive studies are designed to provide descriptive information about SWPBS and not necessarily to determine experimental effects, the 24 studies were excluded from the analysis. As a result, only 10 studies were considered experimental and were included in the analysis.

Although most of the studies were conducted in elementary school elementary school: see school.  settings, the settings also included middle school and high schools (both rural and urban). Table 1 displays the demographic characteristics of the studies.
Table 1

Characteristics of Studies

Study            School            Research Design     Dependent
                 Characteristics                       Variable(s)

Bradshaw,        Rural and         Longitudinal        ODRs, school
Mitchell, & Lea  suburban          randomized          suspensions,
(2010)           elementary        effectiveness       academic
                 schools           study (37 schools   achievement
                                   were matched on
                                   demographics and
                                   randomized to the
                                   treatment (21) and
                                   control group

Colvin &         Middle schools    Pre-post design     Office
Kameenui                           (experimental and   referrals
(1993)                             control groups)

Cook, Habib,     Not urban Middle  Randomized          School climate
Phillips,        schools           experiment (21      measures (e.g.,
Settersten,                        schools were        quality of
Shagle, &                          randomly assigned   student
Degirmencioglu                     to experimental     relations with
(1999)                             and control         staff); Student
                                   groups)             moderator and
                                                       measures (e.g.,
                                                       number of
                                                       official days
                                                       of absences,

Gottfredson,     Urban middle      Nonequivalent       Teacher ratings
Gottfredson, &   schools           control group       of classroom
Hybl (1993)                        design (pre-post    orderliness,
                                   differences)        classroom
                                                       attendance to
                                                       academic work.
                                                       Student reports
                                                       of frequency of
                                                       clarity of
                                                       rules, level of

Horner, Sugai,   Urban elementary  Randomized          Perceived
Smolkowski,      schools           wait-list control   schools safety,
Eber, Nakasato,                    effectiveness       ODRs, academic
Todd, &                            trial               achievement

Lane, Wehby,     high schools      Experimental        Academic
Robertson, &                       design i.e., 5 x 2  achievement,
Rogers (2007)                      group (Group x      attendance,
                                   Time)               behavior,
                                   repeated-measures   referrals,
                                   model               access to

Metzler,         intermediate &    An AB design in     Use of positive
Biglan, Rusby,   middle schools    one community with  reinforcement
& Sprague        within twenty     a comparison        for appropriate
(2001)           miles of a city   community           behavior, ODRs,
                                                       perception of
                                                       safety, &
                                                       student reports
                                                       of harassment.

Shapiro,         middle and        Pre- and            Knowledge of
Burgoon,         elementary urban  post-experimental   psychosocial
Welker, &        public schools    program assessment  skills,
Clough (2002)                      with comparison     attitudes
                                                       towards guns,

Sprague,         Middle &          Treatment           ODRs, adults
Walker, Golly,   elementary        comparison          perceptions of
White, Myers, &  Suburban and      analysis (nine      school safety,
Shannon (2001)   urban community   treatment and six   perceptions of
                 schools           comparison          status of
                                   groups)             school
                                                       discipline, &
                                                       student social

Stevens,         primary and       Experimental        Levels of
Bourdeaudhuij,   secondary         pre-test/posttest   bullying and
& Oost (2000)    schools           comparison          being bullied,
                                   including a         positive
                                   control group       interactions
                                                       among students

Study            Intervention      Measure(s) of    Findings

Bradshaw,        Schoolwide        School-wide      Significant
Mitchell, & Lea  Positive          Evaluation       reduction in
(2010)           Behavior          Tool; Effective  ODRs and
                 Interventions     Behavior         suspensions,
                 and Supports.     Support Survey   improvements in
                 The program                        standardized
                 involved team                      test
                 formation,                         achievement
                 external                           scores
                 support coach,
                 definition of
                 expectations for
                 positive student
                 teaching of
                 system of
                 rewards for
                 behavior, a
                 system of
                 responding to
                 violations, data
                 collection and

Colvin &         School-wide       None             50% decrease in
Kameenui         program called                     ODRs, decrease
(1993)           Project PREPARE.                   in suspensions,
                 The program is a                   detentions and
                 proactive                          office
                 instructional                      consequences
                 approach to
                 managing problem
                 behavior on a

Cook, Habib,     The Comer's       Implementation   The program did
Phillips,        School            questionnaire    not have
Settersten,      Development       completed each   influence on
Shagle, &        Program. It       year             school climate
Degirmencioglu   seeks to enhance                   and student
(1999)           academic                           outcomes
                 outcomes by
                 improving the
                 and social
                 climate in a
                 school via
                 development of a
                 plan, support
                 from school
                 community and

Gottfredson,     School and        Program          Improvement in
Gottfredson, &   classroom wide    Development      student reports
Hybl (1993)      disciplinary      Evaluation       of classroom
                 policy reviews,   method (a form   organization,
                 behavior          designed to      classroom
                 tracking system,  increase the     order, and rule
                 classroom         strength of      clarity.
                 organization and  implementation   Decrease in
                 management, and                    ODRs

Horner, Sugai,   School-wide       School-wide      Low rates of
Smolkowski,      Positive          Evaluation       ODRs,
Eber, Nakasato,  Behavior          Tool             improvement in
Todd, &          Support. The                       state reading
Esperanza        program involved                   standard
(2009)           defining
                 consequences for
                 behavior, data

Lane, Wehby,     SWPBS Program.    Teacher          Improvements in
Robertson, &     Involved 6        self-report      GPA, decreases
Rogers (2007)    training          (checklist),     in unexcused
                 sessions for      Direct           tardiness,
                 school            observation by   decreases in
                 personnel,        research         disciplinary
                 behavioral        assistants       contacts.

Metzler,         The Effective     Survey rating    Increases in
Biglan, Rusby,   Behavior Support  the frequency    proportion of
& Sprague        as part of The    with which       students
(2001)           Community         program          receiving
                 Builders          strategies had   positive
                 Intervention.     been             reinforcement,
                 The program       implemented      decreased ODRs,
                 targets                            lower levels of
                 increasing                         aggression
                 social behavior
                 in school
                 settings by
                 defining rules
                 enforcing rules,

Shapiro,         The Peacemakers   Brief teacher    Lower LS means,
Burgoon,         Program. The      report           decrease in
Welker, &        program includes  questionnaire    suspensions
Clough (2002)    instruction and

Sprague,         Effective         Assessing        Reduction in
Walker, Golly,   Behavioral        Behavioral       ODRs
White, Myers, &  Support Model.    Support in
Shannon (2001)   The program       Schools
                 involves          checklist
                 defining problem
                 and appropriate
                 incentives to
                 behavior change,
                 monitoring of
                 staff training,
                 & evaluation of

Stevens,         The Flemish       None             Improved
Bourdeaudhuij,   school-based                       outcomes on
& Oost (2000)    anti-bullying                      bullying and
                 intervention                       victimization
                 program. The
                 program involved
                 the social
                 environment via
                 of clear

Application of the Criteria

Tables 2 and 3 display the results for how the studies were coded.
Table 2

Whether Studies Operationally Defined Practice and
Participants, Employed Valid and Reliable Measures, and Were
Grounded in Rigorous Decisions

Author (year)     Practice & Participants      Research is
                  are Defined with             Grounded in
                  Operational Precision to     Rigorous Designs
                  promote Replication

                 Adults  Children  Practice  Randomized  Threats to
                                             Control     Internal
                                             Trials      Validity

Bradshaw,        Y       Y         Y         Y           Y
Mitchell, &
Leaf (2010)

Colvin &         N       N         Y         N           Y

Cook, Habib,     Y       Y         N         Y           Y
Shagle, &

Gottfredson,     N       NC        Y         N           N
Gottfredson, &
Hybl (1993)

Horner, Sugai,   Y       Y         Y         Y           Y
Eber, Nakasato,
Todd, &

Lane, Wehby,     Y       Y         Y         N           Y
Robertson, &
Rogers (2007)

Meteler,         Y       Y         Y         N           N
Biglan, Rusby,
& Sprague

Shapiro,         N       Y         Y         Y           N
Welker, &
Clough (2002)

Sprague,         N       Y         Y         N           N
Walker, Golly,
White, Myers, &
Shannon (2001)

Stevens,         NC      NC        Y         Y           N
& Oost (2000)

Author (year)                             Research Employs
                                          Valid and Reliable

                 Threats to  Appropriate  Outcomes  Treatment
                 External    Data                   Integrity
                 Validity    Analysis
                 Controlled  Techniques

Bradshaw,        Y           Y            Y         Y
Mitchell, &
Leaf (2010)

Colvin &         N           NC           N         N

Cook, Habib,     Y           Y            Y         Y
Shagle, &

Gottfredson,     N           NC           Y         Y
Gottfredson, &
Hybl (1993)

Horner, Sugai,   Y           Y            Y         Y
Eber, Nakasato,
Todd, &

Lane, Wehby,     N           Y            Y         Y
Robertson, &
Rogers (2007)

Meteler,         N           N            Y         Y
Biglan, Rusby,
& Sprague

Shapiro,         N           Y            Y         Y
Welker, &
Clough (2002)

Sprague,         N           N            Y         Y
Walker, Golly,
White, Myers, &
Shannon (2001)

Stevens,         N           Y            N         N
& Oost (2000)
Author (year)

Table 3

How Studies Documented Effects

Author           Research Documents    Research Documents
(year)            Experimental Effects  Effects (high fidelity &
                 Without Iatrogenic    sustains administrative
                 Outcomes              support)

                 Outcomes  Effect Size   High      Administrative
                                         Fidelity  Support

Bradshaw,        Y         NC            Y         Y
Mitchell, &
Leaf (2010)

Colvin &         Y         NC            N         Y

Cook, Habib,     N         NC            N         Y
Shagle, &

Gottfredson,     NC        Attending to   NC        N
Gottfredson, &             academic work
Hybl (1993)                = 0.01
                           behavior =

Horner, Sugai,   Y         ODRs = 0.03    Y         Y
Eber, Nakasato,
Todd, &

Lane, Wehby,     Y         GPA (across    N         NC
Robertson, &               groups) =
Rogers (2007)              -0.12 to
                           groups) =
                           0.10 to 0.65
                           Suspensions =
                           -0.38 to
                           groups) =
                           -0.25 to

Metzler,         N         ODRs = 0.90    N         Y
Biglan, Rusby,
& Sprague

Shapiro,         Y         Aggressive     N         N
Burgoon,                   behavior =
Welker, &                  -0.01;
Clough (2002)              Disciplinary
                           incidences =
                           referrals =
                           Suspensions =

Sprague,         Y         NC             N         Y
Walker, Golly,
White, Myers, &
Shannon (2001)

Stevens,         Y         Bullying =     N         N
Bourdeaudhuij,             -0.13;
& Oost (2000)              Being bullied
                           = -0.27 &
                           = 0.29 &

The practice and participants are defined with operational precision. Four of the 10 studies (i.e. Bradshaw et al., 2010; Horner et al., 2009; Lane, Wehby, Robertson, & Rogers, 2007; Metzler, Biglan, Rusby, & Sprague, 2001) defined the participants (both adults and children) and practice with precision to allow replication. Although all the other 6 studies defined the practice with precision, each of them was either unclear or did not define either the adults or children (or both).

The research is grounded in rigorous research. Three of the 10 studies (i.e. Bradshaw et al., 2010; Cook et al, 1999; Horner et al., 2009) met this criterion; all 3 met the four indicators for this criterion (i.e., they used randomized control designs, controlled for both internal and external threats to validity and used appropriate data analysis techniques). Three studies (i.e. Gottfredson, Gottfredson & Hybl, 1993; Metzler et al., 2001; Sprague et al., 2001) did not meet any one of the four indicators. The rest of the studies (n = 4) met at least one of the four indicators.

The research employs valid and reliable measures. Eight of the 10 studies employed valid and reliable measures of both the outcomes and treatment integrity. Only 2 studies did not meet this criterion (i.e. Colvin & Kameenui, 1993; Stevens, De Bourdeaudhuij & Van Oost, 2000). Student outcome measures used in the 8 studies included academic achievement, ODRs and suspensions; treatment integrity measures included the SET, Effective Behavior Support Survey, Program Development Evaluation and direct observation.

The research documents experimental effects without iatrogenic out-comes. Seven out of the 10 studies documented experimental outcomes without any iatrogenic effects. Two studies did not meet this criterion (i.e. Cook et al., 1999; Metzler et al., 2001) while one study was coded as "not clear" (i.e. Gottfredson et al., 1993). Effect sizes were computed for 6 of the studies; the other 4 did not report adequate data to allow computation Computation is a general term for any type of information processing that can be represented mathematically. This includes phenomena ranging from simple calculations to human thinking.  of effect sizes. The effect sizes ranged from 0.00 to 0.9. The effect sizes are listed in Table 3.

The research documents effects. Only 2 studies demonstrated both high fidelity high fidelity
The electronic reproduction of sound, especially from broadcast or recorded sources, with minimal distortion.

 and sustained administrative support (i.e. Bradshaw et al., 2010; Horner et al, 2009). This means they had a fidelity index of at least 80% and administration involvement in data collection and decision-making as well as social validity measures reporting administrative satisfaction. The rest of the studies failed to meet either of these indicators (high fidelity and sustained administrative support) or both.

Summary. Overall, only 2 of the 10 studies (i.e. Bradshaw et al., 2010; Horner et al., 2009) met all the five criteria for the evidence base for SWPBS; however, the effect size for the Bradshaw et al. (2010) study could not be computed. The 2 studies defined the practice and participants with operational precision to promote replication, employed valid and reliable measures of student outcomes and treatment fidelity, documented experimental effects without iatrogenic effects, demonstrated high fidelity and sustained administrative support, and were grounded in rigorous research designs.


This review was conducted to examine the evidence base behind SWPBS. The study sought to extend earlier work by Horner et al. (2010), who examined the evidence behind SWPBS studies published between 1990 and July 2011. Horner et al. (2010) used a five-criteria method which they applied to the body of SWPBS research. Although the five criteria "apply primarily to the consideration of individual studies" (Homer et al., 2010, p. 6), Horner et al. (2010) applied it to the body of SWPBS in concert. This study differs from that previous work in that it applies the five criteria to individual studies published over the past 20 years (1990-July 2011).

Overall, only 2 of the 10 studies that were analyzed an·a·lyze  
tr.v. an·a·lyzed, an·a·lyz·ing, an·a·lyz·es
1. To examine methodically by separating into parts and studying their interrelations.

2. Chemistry To make a chemical analysis of.

 met all the five criteria (i.e., Bradshaw et al., 2010; Horner et al., 2009). This finding is consistent with the findings of an earlier study by Lane et al. (2006) who, in examining methodological considerations of SW-PBS studies published between 1990 and 2005, found that many of the studies they reviewed lacked methodological rigor rigor /rig·or/ (rig´er) [L.] chill; rigidity.

rigor mor´tis  the stiffening of a dead body accompanying depletion of adenosine triphosphate in the muscle fibers.

Although most studies (n = 9) defined the independent variable with operational precision that would allow replication, it is of concern that only half of the studies defined both the participants and practice with operational precision. Failure to define the participants limits the extent to which the findings can be generalized gen·er·al·ized
1. Involving an entire organ, as when an epileptic seizure involves all parts of the brain.

2. Not specifically adapted to a particular environment or function; not specialized.

. It is particularly important for future studies to operationally describe both participating adults and children because, in addition to promoting external validity, knowing the teacher characteristics would help to identify factors that predict student outcomes related to SWPBS (Lane et al., 2006).

It is encouraging that most studies (n = 8) in this review used a combination of measures such as academic achievement and ODRs (e.g., Bradshaw et al., 2010; Horner et al., 2009; Lane et al., 2007) to evaluate outcomes. Lane et al. (2006) lamented la·ment·ed  
Mourned for: our late lamented president.

la·mented·ly adv.
 the limited attention that is given to the selection of measures to evaluate intervention outcomes. According to Lane et al. (2006) "too often studies in school-wide primary interventions have relied exclusively on one outcome measure" (p. 192). Specifically, ODRs have been the most preferred measure of SWPBS outcomes in schools (Lassen et al., 2006). However, "this metric does not yield a complete picture of how well a school is functioning ... [and it does] not capture other important factors that PBS PBS
 in full Public Broadcasting Service

Private, nonprofit U.S. corporation of public television stations. PBS provides its member stations, which are supported by public funds and private contributions rather than by commercials, with educational, cultural,
 seeks to impact" (Lassen et al., 2006, p.701). Other researchers have found the use of this metric as a screening tool to have a high degree of error (Morgan-D'Atrio et al., 1996; Nelson, Benner, Reid, Epstein & Currin, 2002). Therefore, using this metric in combination with other measures such as academic achievement will yield better information about the impact of SWPBS in school settings than using it as a sole measure.

According to the results of this evaluation, most of the studies (n = 8) used acceptable measures of implementation fidelity. Previous studies found that most studies did not measure and report implementation fidelity data (e.g., Horner et al., 2010; Lane et al, 2006; Mclntyre, Gresham, DiGennaro, & Reed, 2007; Wheeler et al. 2009). For example, Mclntyre et al. (2007) examined the treatment integrity of school-based interventions in studies published between 1991 and 2005 and found that only 30% of the studies had reported treatment integrity data. Thus, it is encouraging that most of the studies in this review measured and reported data on implementation fidelity. As Lane et al. (2006) stated "the absence of treatment integrity data poses clear threats to the internal and external validity of any study" (p. 192).

However, even though it is encouraging that most of the studies in this review monitored and evaluated implementation fidelity, it is still problematic that only 2 of the 10 studies reported high fidelity. Measuring implementation fidelity is important because it ensures accurate application of the intervention (McIntyre et al., 2007) which helps to determine the "presence of a functional relationship between the dependent and independent variables In mathematics, an independent variable is any of the arguments, i.e. "inputs", to a function. These are contrasted with the dependent variable, which is the value, i.e. the "output", of the function.  (Wheeler, Baggett, Fox & Blevins, 2006, p.45). It is therefore, crucial for researchers to ensure that SWPBS interventions are implemented as intended as doing so would ensure reliable evaluation of outcomes.

Further, this evaluation indicated only 3 of the 10 studies were grounded in rigorous designs. This finding is also consistent with the findings of Lane et al. (2006) who reported that SWPBS studies published between 1990 and 2005 were predominantly pre·dom·i·nant  
1. Having greatest ascendancy, importance, influence, authority, or force. See Synonyms at dominant.

 descriptive and non-experimental. However, it is encouraging to note that 2 of the 3 studies (i.e., Bradshaw et al., 2010 and Horner et al., 2009) were published within the last 2 years. This development may be an indication that researchers are responding to earlier calls to address this limitation (e.g., by Kern Kern, river, 155 mi (249 km) long, rising in the S Sierra Nevada Mts., E Calif., and flowing south, then southwest to a reservoir in the extreme southern part of the San Joaquin valley. The river has Isabella Dam as its chief facility.  & Manz, 2004; Lane et al., 2006). Thus, there is need for more experimental studies in order to bolster This article is about the pillow called a bolster. For other meanings of the word "bolster", see bolster (disambiguation).

A bolster (etymology: Middle English, derived from Old English, and before that the Germanic word bulgstraz
 the evidence base for SWPBS.

Horner et al. (2010) reported no negative effects had been reported as a result of the implementation of SWPBS. Results of this study corroborate To support or enhance the believability of a fact or assertion by the presentation of additional information that confirms the truthfulness of the item.

The testimony of a witness is corroborated if subsequent evidence, such as a coroner's report or the testimony of other
 that finding as 7 of the 10 studies reported positive outcomes with no iatrogenic outcomes. Nevertheless, 2 studies did not show positive effects while the impact of the outcomes for 2 of the studies was "not clear." Two of the studies (i.e., Lane et al., 2007; Metzler et al., 2001) had large effect sizes of 0.9 and 0.5 (according to Cohen cohen
 or kohen

(Hebrew: “priest”) Jewish priest descended from Zadok (a descendant of Aaron), priest at the First Temple of Jerusalem. The biblical priesthood was hereditary and male.
, 1988) respectively for at least one of the outcomes reported. The effect sizes for the other studies fell in the small to medium range (0.1 to 0.3) (Cohen, 1988) for at least one of the outcomes reported. It is important that, to date, SWPBS is mostly associated with positive student outcomes. Even though the SWPBS research is weak (Lane et al., 2006), the practice has demonstrated a level of potency potency /po·ten·cy/ (po´ten-se)
1. the ability of the male to perform coitus.

2. the relationship between the therapeutic effect of a drug and the dose necessary to achieve that effect.

 that is important in promoting its widespread use in schools especially when the level of problem behavior in schools reaches alarming proportions (Safran & Oswald, 2003).

The sustainability of effects is important since it may take a few years to implement SWPBS effectively. Consistent administrative support has been identified as a key factor in promoting sustained implementation of SWPBS (Handler A software routine that performs a particular task. It often refers to a routine that "handles" an exception of some kind, such as an error, but it can refer to mainstream processes as well. The term is typically used in operating systems and other system software.  et al, 2007). It is therefore important that most of the studies (n = 6) in this review demonstrated sustained administrative support.

Finally, the most striking observation was that only 2 of the 10 studies met all the five criteria for the evidence-base for SWPBS. This finding appears to dampen the conclusion of Horner et al. (2010) that SWPBS "carries sufficient experimental documentation to be classified as evidence based ..." (p. 10). In fact results of this review, like those of Lane et al. (2006), suggest that SWPBS is quite a promising approach which, requires more inquiry with enhanced methodological rigor to be established as evidence based. Researchers should pay particular attention to the operational definitions of participants (both children and adults), use of experimental designs to examine the effects of SWPBS on student outcomes, and the evaluation of treatment fidelity. It is anticipated that addressing these issues will help to solidify so·lid·i·fy  
v. so·lid·i·fied, so·lid·i·fy·ing, so·lid·i·fies
1. To make solid, compact, or hard.

2. To make strong or united.

 the quite promising evidence base for SWPBS.

This study was an attempt to extend previous efforts aimed at examining the evidence base for SWPBS. However, the study is not without limitations. Horner et al.'s (2010) criteria use broad categories which made formulation formulation /for·mu·la·tion/ (for?mu-la´shun) the act or product of formulating.

American Law Institute Formulation
 of clear definitions for scoring difficult. For example, these researchers found it difficult to come up with a clear definition for "consistent administrative support". These challenges are evidenced by the moderate inter-rater agreement of 84.5%. As a result, replication of the study can be difficult given the lack of precision for some of the definitions.

Nevertheless, in spite of in opposition to all efforts of; in defiance or contempt of; notwithstanding.

See also: Spite
 these limitations results of this review demonstrated that although there is evidence pointing to its efficacy, the research behind SWPBS is still weak. Many studies demonstrating the effective applications of SWPBS do not have the methodological rigor for evidence-based practices. This may be due to the applied nature of SWPBS. However, it is quite a promising approach which requires researchers to address these limitations in order for it to be classified as evidence-based. Future research on SWPBS should pay particular attention to issues like the rigor of the research designs used, treatment integrity, operational definition of participants and practice, and use of valid and reliable measures of student outcomes.


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(2) In programming, the asterisk or "star" symbol (*) means multiplication. For example, 10 * 7 means 10 multiplied by 7. The * is also a key on computer keypads for entering expressions using multiplication.
 indicate studies included in the review.

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PBIS Performance-Based Incentive System
PBIS Program Budget Information System (US Navy)
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Of, relating to, or undergoing adolescence.

A young person who has undergone puberty but who has not reached full maturity; a teenager.
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British chemist. He won a 1957 Nobel Prize for his study of nucleic acids and nucleotide structures.
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1. Sanctioned or authorized by long-standing custom or usage.

2. Making or giving injunctions, directions, laws, or rules.

3. Law Acquired by or based on uninterrupted possession.
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2. A sluice used in returning water to a channel after depositing its sediment on the flooded land.
1. (Com.) An allowance in weighing. See Cloff.
, J. B. (2002). Evaluation of the peacemakers This article is about the pacifist organization. For other meanings, see Peacemaker (disambiguation).
Peacemakers was an American pacifist organization.
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* Sprague, J., Walker, H., Golly gol·ly  
Used to express mild surprise or wonder.

[Alteration of God.]


an exclamation of mild surprise [originally a euphemism for
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Chowne, Parson Stoyle

terrorizes parish; kidnaps children. [Br. Lit.: The Maid of Sker, Walsh Modern, 94–95]

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bully; becomes thief in Fagin’s gang. [Br. Lit.
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 conducted with children with autism autism (ô`tĭzəm), developmental disability resulting from a neurological disorder that affects the normal functioning of the brain. It is characterized by the abnormal development of communication skills, social skills, and reasoning. . Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 21(1), 45-54.

Wheeler, J. J., Mayton, M. R., Carter, S. L., Chitiyo, M, Menendez, A. L., & Huang, A. (2009). An assessment of treatment integrity in behavioral intervention behavioral intervention Behavior modification, behavior 'mod', behavioral therapy, behaviorism Psychiatry The use of operant conditioning models, ie positive and negative reinforcement, to modify undesired behaviors–eg, anxiety.  studies conducted with persons with mental retardation mental retardation, below average level of intellectual functioning, usually defined by an IQ of below 70 to 75, combined with limitations in the skills necessary for daily living. . Education and Training in Developmental Disabilities, 44, 187-195. Retrieved from ETDD East Tennessee Development District  

Morgan Morgan, American family of financiers and philanthropists.

Junius Spencer Morgan, 1813–90, b. West Springfield, Mass., prospered at investment banking.
 Chitiyo and Michael E. May Southern Illinois Illinois, river, United States
Illinois, river, 273 mi (439 km) long, formed by the confluence of the Des Plaines and Kankakee rivers, NE Ill., and flowing SW to the Mississippi at Grafton, Ill. It is an important commercial and recreational waterway.
 University Carbondale

George Chitiyo Tennessee Technological University Tennessee Technological University, popularly known as Tennessee Tech, is an accredited public university located in Cookeville, Tennessee, a small city approximately seventy miles (110 km) east of Nashville.  

Correspondence to Morgan Chitiyo, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Educational Psychology & Special Education, 625 Wham Drive, Carbondale IL 62901-4618.
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Author:Chitiyo, Morgan; May, Michael E.; Chitiyo, George
Publication:Education & Treatment of Children
Article Type:Clinical report
Date:Feb 1, 2012
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