Culturally Responsive Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports: Collaborating for Improvement

The purpose of this study was to compare the frequency of office behavioral referrals for discipline before and after the implementation of Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS). The study measured proportionality of referrals based on student ethnicity as one assessment of staff cultural competence. Survey data was collected on teachers’ perceptions of the PBIS program implementation. The study took place at a Title 1 elementary school in a San Diego suburb with a student population of approximately 800 students and 42 full and part-time teachers. The researcher used a convergent parallel design method. Student behavior referral data for the 2014-15 and 2015-15 school year was combined with student demographic data and compared. Based on the result of a t-test and with 99% confidence, the researcher concluded there was a statistically significant difference in the number of office behavior referrals issued after the implementation of PBIS. Risk ratio calculations found some evidence of disproportionality for behavior referrals among African-American, Filipino, and students who identified as Two or More Races. Survey results revealed a majority of teachers participated in creating the behavior expectations matrix, taught the expectations with fidelity, and held collaborative conversations about student behavior and possible interventions during their weekly Professional Learning Community (PLC) meetings. Additionally, 50% of teacher respondents were unclear about when to issue behavior referrals and want clarification on PBIS corrective consequences for misbehavior. Recommendations include maintaining school-wide, selected, and targeted interventions, creating a predictable, coherent discipline referral process, and monitoring discipline data for inequities to guide the school’s cultural competence. Keywords: Culturally Responsive, Office Discipline Referrals, Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports, Professional Learning Communities