PBIS’ framework doesn’t just work with school-wide and targeted supports. It’s also an effective way to address sometimes dangerous, often highly disruptive behaviors creating barriers to learning and excluding students from social settings.
At most schools, there are 1-5% of students for whom Tier 1 and Tier 2 supports have not connected. At Tier 3, these students receive more intensive, individualized support to improve their behavioral and academic outcomes. Tier 3 strategies work for students with developmental disabilities, autism, emotional and behavioral disorders, and students with no diagnostic label at all.
Tier 3 practices stem from strong foundations in Tier 1 and Tier 2 supports. With both tiers in place, schools are free to organize individualized teams to support students with more intense needs.
The foundational systems involved in Tier 3 supports are:
Tier 3 team membership includes an administrator, a coach/behavior representative, others with basic knowledge of problem solving. Team members should also include personnel who actively provide Tier 3 support in the school. This gives them input on decisions about interventions they provide to students they serve. Including school personnel from different departments ensures an array of perspectives.
A school’s Tier 3 team must include someone who has experience providing formal behavior support. They need to have applied behavior expertise and experience developing multi-agency support.
Documenting student outcomes lets teams monitor how the resources allocated and the practices adopted affect student’s outcomes. These data are essential to:
Assessing how closely Tier 3 supports are implemented as intended (fidelity of implementation) ensures student outcomes can be attributed to the interventions provided.
Tier 3 practices start with strong Tier 1 and Tier 2 foundations. In addition to these practices, the key practices involved in Tier 3 supports are:
Functional behavior assessment (FBA) is the formal process for ensuring a student’s plan centers on why a student behaves the way they do. FBA allows teams to identify which interventions are most likely to be useful for an individual student. Plans resulting from a formal FBA process will include strategies for:
Wraparound supports involve working with students and the adults invested in their success to identify how a student’s natural support systems, strengths, and needs can work together to improve their outcomes. The Wraparound plan typically includes both formal, research-based services and informal supports provided by friends, family, and other people drawn from the student's social networks. For more information, check out the National Wraparound Initiative’s introduction to key concepts.
With every practice, the student's and the school's culture and context must be considered. Each of these element influences and adds value to a school’s Tier 3 practices:
There are two types of teams associated with Tier 3 supports: the Tier 3 leadership team and individual student support teams.
Tier 3 teams won’t look the same in every school. Whether you have one team looking at Tier 3 specifically, or one team monitoring Tier 2 and 3 systems together, this leadership team meets regularly to be sure:
Tier 3 leadership teams are led by someone with applied behavior expertise, administrative authority, multi-agency support experience, knowledge of students, and knowledge about how the school operates across grade levels and programs.
In addition to a team committed to monitoring Tier 3 systems, there must be a problem-solving team for each student receiving Tier 3 supports. These teams meet regularly to design and refine strategies specific to one student. The team’s goal is always to transition a student to fewer intensive supports.
Tier 3 student support teams typically include people from the student’s school, home, and community. Students and their families input and approval on who is on the team. The school’s administrator must have enough involvement to allocate resources as needed for a student’s plan.
The Tiered Fidelity Inventory (TFI) assess how closely school personnel apply the core features of PBIS. The TFI includes three separate surveys – one for assessing each tier – schools can use separately or in combination with one another. Schools at every stage of implementation may use the TFI to assess any tier.
At its foundation, PBIS is a framework supported by research spanning decades. Study after study confirms the positive impact Tier 3 systems and practices have on improving student outcomes. The evaluation brief, "Is School-wide Positive Behavior Support an Evidence-based Practice?" and the article "Examining the Evidence Base for School-wide Positive Behavior Support" each lay out some of the research and provide additional resources to explore the topic further.