School-Wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (SWPBIS) is a universal prevention strategy currently implemented in >16 000 schools across the United States. SWPBIS intends to reduce students’ behavior problems by altering staff behaviors and developing systems and supports to meet children’s behavioral needs. The current study reports intervention effects on child behaviors and adjustment from an effectiveness trial of SWPBIS.
The sample of 12 344 elementary school children was 52.9% male, 45.1% African American, and 46.1% Caucasian. Approximately 49% received free or reduced-priced meals, and 12.9% received special education services at baseline. The trial used a group randomized controlled effectiveness design implemented in 37 elementary schools. Multilevel analyses were conducted on teachers’ ratings of children’s behavior problems, concentration problems, social-emotional functioning, prosocial behavior, office discipline referrals, and suspensions at 5 time points over the course of 4 school years.
The multilevel results indicated significant effects of SWPBIS on children’s behavior problems, concentration problems, social-emotional functioning, and prosocial behavior. Children in SWPBIS schools also were 33% less likely to receive an office discipline referral than those in the comparison schools. The effects tended to be strongest among children who were first exposed to SWPBIS in kindergarten.
These findings provide support for the hypothesized reduction in behavior problems and improvements in prosocial behavior and effective emotion regulation after training in SWPBIS. The SWPBIS framework appears to be a promising approach for reducing problems and promoting adjustment among elementary school children.