Positive Behavior Intervention Supports and Social Emotional Learning Will Be on State Report Cards


COLUMBUS, Ohio — The State Board of Education gathered this week for its monthly meeting. The discussion Tuesday morning began with the topic of PBIS – Positive Behavior Intervention Supports – in the Integrated Student Supports Committee, which is chaired by Board Vice President Charlotte McGuire.

PBIS is the state’s mandated disciplinary format. The mandate came from State Sen. Peggy Lehner’s Senate Bill 246, which was incorporated into House Bill 318 and became law last year. It requires, in part, all public schools to implement a PBIS framework and report their progress.

“That each school district, community school, STEM or STEAM school, and college-preparatory boarding school must implement a Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS) framework and provide a list of potential objectives,” the bill’s analysis stated.

Report cards will state whether or not a district or school has implemented the required program.

Lehner, chair of the Senate Education Committee, was on hand for the State Board committee meeting Tuesday. She and Superintendent Paolo DeMaria watched over the PBIS section of the agenda. The pair are strong advocates for social-emotional learning (SEL), and PBIS was discussed as being intertwined with SEL. In fact, PBIS is described as a social-emotional learning framework.

The connection between PBIS and SEL is important to the Board because of the potential testing of non-academic standards and data acquisition of students, which is a privacy issue. Several members of the State Board have repeatedly expressed concern about both.

Elected Board Member Kirsten Hill tried to amend the SEL standards to protect student privacy and ensure the non-academic requirements would not be assessed. She attempted to amend the standards in committee in May and again before the full committee in June. As The Ohio Star reported, she was unsuccessful.

At Tuesday’s committee hearing, the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) spent the majority of the committee’s time discussing how PBIS was being implemented. ODE said it was looking at three things: the data teams had to collect on student behavior, the practices being implemented to address the needs, and the outcomes desired. A core goal: to lower the number of students being referred for discipline and to lower out-of-school suspensions. This was also a key component of Sen. Lehner’s legislation.

The results are mixed as disciplinary referrals are slightly down but Ohio’s overall out-of-school suspensions are up. The academic years evaluated were prior to the state-wide PBIS mandate, but the committee was informed that PBIS practices actually started in 1997 and were used with special-needs students.

ODE informed the committee that the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) states that without using PBIS, schools may be violating the Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) law that protects students with special needs.

Committee members had many questions. ODE provided the following information:

  • PBIS is not voluntary; it’s mandatory
  • even schools without disciplinary problems are required to implement PBIS
  • PBIS status will be listed on each school’s report card
  • non-certified staff, such as custodians, cooks and bus drivers, will also be required to participate and implement the new disciplinary program

Near the end of the discussion, Chair McGuire raised the issue of social-emotional learning and assessments. “Since we’re saying we’re reporting PBIS [on the report card], even though it’s not graded, sometimes we open the door to things.”

As The Ohio Star reported, the State Board wants SEL to be a required component for graduation.

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Beth Lear is a reporter at The Ohio Star.  Follow Beth on Twitter.  Email tips to [email protected].






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