Why Implement PBIS?

PBIS is a framework for creating safe, positive, equitable schools, where every student can feel valued, connected to the school community and supported by caring adults. By implementing evidence-based practices within a PBIS framework, schools support their students’ academic, social, emotional, and behavioral success, engage with families to create locally-meaningful and culturally-relevant outcomes, and use data to make informed decisions that improve the way things work for everyone.

Why should you implement PBIS? It works — students and educators benefit. Research shows it works, time and time again.

Evidence for each outcome available in Is PBIS an Evidence-Based Practice?

PBIS Establishes a Healthy School Culture and Climate

Your school’s culture should be a reflection of the people learning and working within the community – students, their families, and their teachers alike. Through your PBIS implementation, you’ll engage your school-wide community to co-create your school’s culture and establish a climate where everyone feels welcome and seen. In fact, when schools implement PBIS, teachers, students, and their families all perceive their school’s climate more positively.1

PBIS Increases Student Engagement and Instructional Time

Establishing school-wide expectations with your students sets the tone for the classroom. When you spend time getting to know your students and use strategies to deepen connections every day, you are building a healthy classroom environment. When students have clear expectations, are regularly acknowledged for the things they do well, and receive instructional consequences more often than exclusionary ones, they are going to spend more time in class than out of it. Not only that, when schools implement PBIS, students are more engaged in instruction.2

PBIS Empowers Students to Play a Central Role in their Education

Schools implementing a PBIS framework define positive expectations like respectful and kind and teach students skills to help create the environment they want to see. For example, when schools work to address bullying within a PBIS framework –teaching students how to interrupt bullying behaviors – schools actually see fewer incidents of bullying.3,4 Within the PBIS framework, students have lower levels of unwanted behaviors and higher levels of positive, prosocial behaviors and emotion regulation.5 PBIS schools also report lower illegal drug and alcohol use than schools that aren’t implementing6

PBIS Reduces Racial Inequities in Discipline

The work you do to produce equitable outcomes for all students is not an afterthought; it’s embedded in the foundation of your PBIS implementation. When you align your school-wide expectations with the values and experiences of your students and their families, you establish your school as part of their community, create consistency across their contexts, and reduce everyone’s assumptions about expected behaviors at school. By specifically centering equity within a PBIS framework, rigorous research shows schools can significantly decrease the racial disparities they see in their discipline practices as well in their overall office discipline referral rates.7

PBIS Reduces Teacher Burnout

Safe, predictable, consistent schools are good for everyone, teachers too. When schools implement PBIS, teachers feel less emotionally exhausted, more connected to their students’ perceptions of their class, a greater sense of accomplishment in their work, and overall, more capable in their abilities as teachers.8 That means teachers in your school experience less burnout.

PBIS Makes All Your Other Practices Better

A PBIS framework gives you a natural system for selecting, implementing, and sustaining evidence-based practices. Your leadership team commits to meeting regularly, using data, and answering the questions: Did we do what we said we would do and how has that affected students? Every practice you implement flows through the same process. It’s that organization and commitment to on-going improvement that makes schools implementing PBIS up to three times more likely to sustain their school-based practices than non-implementing schools.9

Each of these outcomes are possible when you implement PBIS where you work and with the students you support. For more information about the evidence base supporting the benefits of implementing PBIS, check out the full list of research updated regularly.


  1. McIntosh, K., Girvan, E. J., McDaniel, S. C., Santiago-Rosario, M. R., St. Joseph, S., Fairbanks Falcon, S., ... & Bastable, E. (2021). Effects of an equity-focused PBIS approach to school improvement on exclusionary discipline and school climate. Preventing School Failure: Alternative Education for Children and Youth, 65(4), 354-361.
  2. Algozzine, K., & Algozzine, B. (2007). Classroom instructional ecology and school-wide positive behavior support. Journal of Applied School Psychology, 24(1), 29-47.
  3. Ross, S. W., Horner, R. H., & Higbee, T. (2009). Bully prevention in positive behavior support. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 42(4), 747-759.
  4. Waasdorp, T. E., Bradshaw, C. P., & Leaf, P. J. (2012). The impact of schoolwide positive behavioral interventions and supports on bullying and peer rejection. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 166(2), 149-156.
  5. Bradshaw, C. P., Waasdorp, T. E., & Leaf, P. J. (2012). Effects of school-wide positive behavioral interventions and supports on child behavior problems and adjustment. Pediatrics, e1136-e1145. https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2012-0243
  6. Bastable, E., Kittelman, A., McIntosh, K., & Hoselton, R. (2015). Do high schools implementing SWPBIS have lower rates of illegal drug and alcohol use? PBIS Evaluation Brief. OSEP National Technical Assistance Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports.
  7. McIntosh, K., Girvan, E. J., Fairbanks Falcon, S., McDaniel, S. C., Smolkowski, K., Bastable, E., Santiago-Rosario, M. R., Izzard, S., Austin, S. C., Nese, R. N. T., & Baldy, T. S. (2021). An equity-focused PBIS approach reduces racial inequities in school discipline: A randomized controlled trial. School Psychology, 36(6), 433-444. https://doi.org/10.1037/spq0000466.
  8. Ross, S. W., Romer, N., & Horner, R. H. (2012). Teacher well-being and the implementation of school-wide positive behavior interventions and supports. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 14(2), 118-128.
  9. Meng, P.M., McIntosh, K., Claassen, J., & Hoselton, R. (2016) Does Implementation of SWPBIS Enhance Sustainability of Specific Programs, such as Playworks? PBIS Evaluation Brief. OSEP National Technical Assistance Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports.