What is Necessary to Successfully Implement School-wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports?

December 17, 2021

School-wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (SWPBIS) is one of the most widely adopted frameworks for supporting prosocial behavior in schools; however, it is not uncommon for schools to abandon it before fully implementing it.  A recent review by Fox and colleagues (2021) sought to understand the facilitators and barriers to implementing SWPBIS.  The study of facilitators of implementation identified adequate resources, strong fidelity of implementation, effective SWPBIS team function, and meaningful collection and use of the data.  The most common barriers identified by participants in the study were staff beliefs that conflict with the philosophy of SWPBIS, poor implementation fidelity, and lack of resources.  Less frequently cited barriers included lack of supporting leadership, lack of staff buy-in, and school characteristics (school size, elementary or high school). 

The good news in this review is that many of the barriers can be addressed by assuring the facilitators of implementation are well established.  Developing systems promoting high levels of implementation fidelity addresses the barrier of poor implementation fidelity.  More challenging is resolving the conflict between teachers’ beliefs and the core philosophy of SWPBIS.  It may be worth examining the roots of these ideas to understand their basis and how, specifically, they are inconsistent with SWPBIS.  To some extent it may be possible to incorporate the teachers’ competing beliefs into the specific practices embedded in SWPBIS without doing harm to the core features of it.  In other instances, there may be so much resistance to SWPBIS practices that implementation efforts should not be initiated until teachers’ concerns have been addressed to their satisfaction.  Unless a substantial majority of teachers and administrators are willing to support the SWPBIS initiative, implementation will not be successful.  This highlights the critical role exploration and adoption plays in implementation.

Link to article: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s43494-021-00056-0


Fox, R. A., Leif, E. S., Moore, D. W., Furlonger, B., Anderson, A., & Sharma, U. (2021). A Systematic Review of the Facilitators and Barriers to the Sustained Implementation of School-Wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports. Education and Treatment of Children, 1-22.