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School-Wide Behaviour Support: First Step to Success

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Amber Newsome

on 14 August 2013

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Transcript of School-Wide Behaviour Support: First Step to Success

School-Wide Positive Behaviour Support: First Step to Success
School-Wide Positive Behaviour Support
School-Wide Positive Behaviour Support (SWPBS) refers to the application of positive behavioural interventions and research-validated practices in order to achieve socially significant changes in behaviour. SWPBS focuses on creating and sustaining school environments that improve the outcomes of students by making problem behaviours less effective and relevant, and making desirable behaviours more functional.
Continuum of Positive Behaviour Supports
Primary Level
At the primary level of SWPSB, interventions are aimed at reducing the number of new cases of the targeted problem behaviour
Sugai et al. (2000)
Secondary Level
At the secondary level of SWPBS, interventions are aimed at reducing the number of current cases of the targeted behaviour problem
Tertiary Level
Interventions at the tertiary level of SWPBS are aimed at reducing the intensity and complexity of current cases of the identified behaviour problem
First Step to Success
First Step to Success (FSS) is a SWPBS early intervention program. The primary goal of FSS is to divert the behaviours of antisocial kindergarteners during school, encouraging the development of social and behavioural competencies. The program involves parents, teachers and peers, as they are the social agents that have the strongest influence on the child’s development.
Components of FSS

1. Universal screening
(primary intervention)

2. Classroom-based intervention
(secondary intervention)

3. In-home parent education
(tertiary intervention)

Implementation of FSS
Implementation of the program usually takes around three months, in which time an assigned FSS consultant delivers the components by modeling them in the classroom and delivering them to the home. The FSS consultant is a school professional, usually a school psychologist, who works closely with teachers and parents/caregivers to provide ongoing assistance and support.
1. Universal Screening
2. Classroom-Based
3. In-Home Parent
An initial screening of all kindergarten students is conduced to identify early indicators of antisocial and aggressive behaviour that may require intervention upon initial school entry (Walker et al., 1998).

Aggressive Behviours in Children
Step 1: Teacher Nominations
The teacher nominates five children from their class as at risk for internalising behaviours, and five for externalising behaviours, ranking students in each category from one to five. The three highest ranked students from each category progress to the second stage of screening in which the teacher rates the frequency that the child demonstrates adaptive and maladaptive behaviours.
Step 2: Observation
Students exceeding a specific predetermined cut-off score are observed directly in the playground and classroom in order to assess their academic engagement and interactions with peers. Based on these observations, students exceeding normative criteria are usually identified as being at risk for aggression and referred to the FFS program.
Examining the SWPBS Research Base
Horner, Sugai and Anderson (2010) examined the evidence base of SWPBS to assess whether the three tiers have sufficient empirical support for school implementation. Research was taken from peer-reviewed articles published between 2000 and 2009, which directly addressed the issue of SWPBS implementation and effectiveness through primary-source experimental analyses. Forty-six articles met these inclusion criteria. The authors concluded that the reviewed studies defined the practice of SWPBS succinctly, and described the participants with sufficient detail to allow replication. The research base for SWPBS employs valid and reliable measures, and is grounded in rigorous designs. Results from the reviewed studies suggest that SWPBS implementation is associated with improved student behaviour, and the effects of the research are well documented.
The consultant provides the student with visual cues in the form of a green or red card, to indicate whether the student is on task and demonstrating appropriate behaviours at a given time. The student earns points as they work towards a behavioural goal. If the student reaches their goal for a given day, he or she is allowed to choose an enjoyable activity for the whole class. If the daily goal is not reached, the program is repeated until the student reaches the goal. Student goals progressively increase in complexity over at least 30 days, with the teacher gradually assuming control over the program.
Sumi et al. (2012)
Parents are encouraged to reward the student’s positive behaviour through the implementation of home activities (e.g. playing a game, going for a walk). Additionally, the consultant meets with the parents regularly with the aim of strengthening their parenting skills and encouraging a collaborative home and school working relationship in order to support the child effectively.
Sumi et al. (2012)
Walker et al. (1998)
Sumi et al. (2012)
Lane, Cook and Tankersley (2013)
Lane et al. (2013)
First Step to Success Research
Numerous studies have investigated the effectiveness of FSS in providing positive behaviour outcomes for students. Three of the studies with the largest sample sizes are discussed below.
Walker et al. (2009)
A more recent study of the effectiveness of FSS was conduced by Walker et al. (2009), and is notable for its large sample size (N=200). A randomised clinical trial of the FSS program was conducted over four years in public schools in the US (Walker et al., 2009). Parent and teacher ratings of student behaviour and social skills demonstrated robust effect sizes in pre- and post-intervention comparisons for the FSS intervention group (.54 - .87), providing strong support for the effectiveness of the program across a number of diverse student populations.
Walker et al. (1998)
Walker et al. (1998) conducted a four year study to evaluate the effectiveness of the FSS program using an experimental design. Participants were 44 kindergarteners identified as being at-risk of antisocial behaviour. The students were followed-up in grades 1 and 2, with the results indicating initial intervention effects that were maintained at follow-up. FFS was shown to be effective in reducing antisocial behaviours in students with high rates of aggressive and oppositional behaviours.
Golly, Stiller & Walker (1998)
Golly, Stiller and Walker (1998) conducted a study with the aim of replicating the findings of Walker et al. (1998). Twenty kindergarteners identified as having high rates of aggression and maladaptive behaviours received the FSS intervention program over a one year period. The findings replicated that of Walker et al. (1998), confiming a causal relationship between the intervention and reductions in antisocial behaviours.
A strength of SWPBS is that it emphasises the use of culturally appropriate interventions, which consider the unique learning histories (social, community, historical, familial, racial, gender, etc.) of all students (Sugai et al., 2000). Early intervention techniques are especially important forms of SWPBS, as they allow treatments to be implemented when they have the greatest likelihood of success (Kazdin, 1987). One example of a SWPBS early intervention program is First Step to Success.
Evaluation of First Step to Success
A negative aspect of FSS is the amount of time needed on part of the consultant to monitor the student in class, and provide education and feedback to the teacher and parent/caregiver. It is likely that the school psychologist will not be able to meet the time requirement needed to implement the program for all the children meeting the normative criteria in a given school. Other school staff members may also need to be trained in FSS procedures in order for the program to be implemented consistently and effectively. Additionally, paraprofessionals with proper training in FSS are able to fill the consultant role (Sumi et al., 2012), making implementation of the program more achievable.
It has been noted that the effects of FSS are somewhat less favourable that the child repeating kindergarten, that graduate teachers may struggle to implement the program, and that consultant characteristics (e.g. training, experience) influence the success of effective implementation of the program (Overton, McKenzie, King & Osbourne, 2002). Additionally, FSS may be a less effective strategy for students from highly chaotic home environments (Diken & Rutherfold, 2005), who may require more intensive intervention than is provided by the FSS program. Therefore, it is important that the appropriateness of the program is considered on an individual-student basis, before a child commences the program.
The research base for the FSS program is limited as the majority of the research has been conducted by the developers of the program among American populations of students. Future research should assess the effectiveness of FFS in reducing antisocial behaviours in Australian primary schools to determine whether the results are generalisable to the Australian student population.
Diken, I. H., & Rutherfold, R. B. (2005). First Step to Success Early Intervention Program: A
study of effectiveness with Native-American children. Education and Treatment of Children, 28, 444-465.
Erichob7. (2013, February 11). Positive behavior support [Video file]. Retrieved from http://
Golly, A. M., Stiller, B., & Walker, J. M. (1998). First Step to Success: Replication and social
validation of an early intervention program. Journal of Emotional and Behavioural Disorders, 6, 243-250.
Horner, R. H., Sugai, G., & Anderson, C. M. (2010). Examining the evidence base for school-
wide positive behaviour support. Focus on Exceptional Children, 42(9), 1-15.
Howcast. (2012, May 1). What is aggressive behaviour? Child psychology [Video file].
Retrieved from www.youtube.com/watch?v=fuban0VTUMA
Kazdin, A. E. (1987). Treatment of anti-social behaviour in children: Current status and
future directions. American Psychological Association, 102, 187-203.
Lane, K. L., Cook, B. G., & Tankersley, M. (2013). Research-based strategies for improving
outcomes in behaviour. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
Northern Territory Government: Department of Education and Children’s Services (2013).
Continuum of School-Wide Instructional & Positive Behavior Support [Diagram]. Retrieved from http://www.education.nt.gov.au/teachers-educators/students-learning/safe-schools-nt/swpbs
Overton, S., McKenzie, L., King, K., & Osbourne, J. (2002). Replication of the First Step to
Success model: A multiple-case study of implementation effectiveness. Behavioural
Disorders, 28(1), 40-56.
Sanders. M. (2010, September 28). Managing aggression in children [Audio podcast].
Retrieved from http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2010/09/28/3023863.htm
Sugai, G., Horner, R. H., Dunlap, G., Hieneman, M., Lewis, T. J., Nelson, C. M., … Ruef, M.
(2000). Applying positive behaviour support and functional behavioural assessment in schools. Journal of Positive Behaviour Interventions, 2(3), 131-143.
Walker, H. M., Kavanagh, K., Stiller, B., Golly, A., Severson, H. H., & Feil, E. G. (1998). First Step
to Success: An early intervention approach for preventing school antisocial behaviour. Journal of Emotional and Behavioural Disorders, 6(2), 66-80.
Walker, H. M., Seeley, J. R., Small, J., Severson, H. H., Graham, B. A., Feil, E. G., … Forness, S. R.
(2009). A randomized controlled trial of the First Step to Success Early Intervention: Demonstration of program efficacy outcomes in a diverse, urban school district. Journal of Emotional and Behavioural Disorders, 17(4), 197-212.

A positive aspect of FSS is the incorporation of school and home contexts as central components for affecting change, as it provides consistency between the two primary environments of the child. Another positive is that the program is a manualised intervention with explicit instructions guiding training, implementation and evaluation. Additionally, the assignment of a consultant to each case allows effective and consistent implementation of the program through the provision of education and support to teachers and parents/caregivers.
In the media...
Click the above link to read a short article on the importance of early interventions for behaviour problems in the children. The article briefly outlines the importance of parent engagement in early behavioural interventions and provides five tips for discipline.
What is Positive Behaviour Support?
Sugai et al. (2000)
Horner et al. (2010)
In the media...
Click the above link to listen to a podcast of Matt Sanders talking to Madonna King on ABC radio about managing aggressive behaviours in children. Matt outlines the nauture of aggression in children and provides advice to parents for managing these behaviours.
Click the above video to watch a short clip describing 'Positive Behaviour Support' and how it is used to target behavioural problems.
Amber Newsome
Click the above video to watch a short clip outlining the importance of early intervention for children who demonstrate aggressive behaviours, as well as the importance of providing consistency in intervention programs.
Northern Territory Government: Department of Education and Children’s Services (2013)
Full transcript