AERA Open (May 2017)

Schoolwide Systems of Positive Behavior Support: Implications for Students at Risk and With Emotional/Behavioral Disorders

  • Timothy J. Lewis,
  • Kent McIntosh,
  • Brandi Simonsen,
  • Barbara S. Mitchell,
  • Heather L. Hatton

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 3


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The use of schoolwide multitiered systems of support to address challenging social and emotional behavior has been established in >20,000 schools across the United States and 19 other countries worldwide. The systems approach of schoolwide positive behavior support is guided by implementation science and embeds evidence-based behavioral interventions across a continuum based on documented student need. The extant research base to date, including randomized controlled trials, is robust with respect to universal or Tier I interventions and supports. Less is known about the impact on students who are at high risk for manifesting a disability, as well as those currently served under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The purpose of this article is to provide a rationale for, and overview of, schoolwide positive behavior support as a comprehensive framework to support children and youth with emotional/behavioral disorders and review the research to date across a continuum of supports. Research, professional development and implementation, and policy implications are discussed.