Systems to Support



Download the Technical Brief Document

What is the purpose of this page?

The purpose of this page is to summarize proactive, efficient, and evidence-based systems for supporting teachers' implementation of positive classroom behavior support (PCBS) practices school-wide. Specifically, this technical brief is designed to inform and support school and district leadership teams as they address the following questions while implementing PCBS school wide.

  • What practices do you want to implement?
  • Where are the practices implemented?
  • Who are your implementation supporters?
  • How will you support implementation?
  • (adapted from Fixsen, Naoom, Blase, Friedman, & Wallace, 2005 pg. 12).

The specific evidence-based practices to be implemented (what) are the PCBS practices defined in Supporting and Responding to Student Behavior guide. The goal is for these practices to be implemented by all teachers and in all classrooms (where). School leadership teams will need to consider a range of possible implementation supporters (who) depending on their context and available resources (e.g., expert-, peer-, or self-delivered supports). In addition, the school leadership team will need to provide specific training, prompting, and data (how) to ensure teachers know how to use PCBS practices and are able to apply them effectively in their classrooms. This technical brief is designed to inform and support these decisions.

For the purposes of this brief, we will define implementation and systems as follows.

Implementation is "a specified set of activities designed to put into practice an activity or program of known dimensions" (Fixsen, Naoom, Blase, Friedman, & Wallace, 2005, p.5).

Systems refer to the structures and supports district and school leadership teams provide to enhance teachers' implementation of evidence-based practices with fidelity.

What factors should our school leadership team consider to increase the likelihood of PCBS systems effectively supporting teachers in our building?

The effectiveness and efficiency of PCBS systems are maximized by (a) linking to school-wide systems within a multi-tiered behavioral framework (MTBF), like systems emphasized in school-wide positive behavioral interventions and supports (SWPBIS; see, (b) aligning positive and proactive supports for staff with existing professional development and teacher evaluation systems, and (c) investing in data systems (described in an upcoming Classroom Data Brief) to support decision making. In particular, the following school-wide and classroom-focused supports should be in place to optimize PCBS systems.
• Comprehensive school-wide data system that enables monitoring of academic progress, behavioral incidents, attendance, and other critical indicators across classrooms.
• School-wide investment in evidence-based curriculum and effective instructional strategies, matched to students' need, and data to support teachers' academic instruction.
• School leadership's expectation that classroom practices (e.g., teaching expectations, acknowledging and responding to behavior) are linked to and aligned with school-wide Multi-Tiered Behavior Framework (MTBF).
• Effective staff climate and culture is established through use of positive and proactive communication and staff recognition.

How should our team use this guide to support the implementation of PCBS?

The brief does not provide comprehensive coverage of all systems to support teachers' implementation of PCBS, nor is it prescriptive. Instead, school and district leadership teams should (a) select and implement systems based on data documenting specific needs within their district and schools and (b) coordinate implementation within a positive, preventive, and schoolwide MTBF to enhance outcomes.

How can our team use this guide to support systems at the district level?

Systems at the district level mirror those at the school level. For additional information about installing systems at the district level please see the PBIS Implementation Blueprint. In addition to the strategies described in this brief, district leadership teams should also consider the following guiding questions:
• Has your district communicated a clear priority for supporting teachers' PCBS implementation?
• Has your district provided access to resources (e.g., time for professional development [PD], investing in building classroom expertise)?

This technical brief facilitates implementation of PCBS systems by describing (a) foundational school-wide systems; (b) explicit training, coaching, and performance feedback strategies; (c) examples of data collection tools; and (d) strategies to intensify support for staff; and, (d) a scenario that illustrates school level approaches for investing in systems to support teachers' implementation PCBS.

Guiding Questions for Systems to Support PCBS Implementation


Table 1.


System Feature Description

What are the critical features?

Examples of PCBS Features

How can I implement this feature in my school?

Non-examples of PCBS Features

What should I avoid when I'm implementing this feature?

Empirical Support and Resources

What evidence supports this feature and where can I find additional resources?

PCBS implementation is a clear school and district priority

District and school administrators have communicated a clear priority for PCBS implementation.

No practices are prioritized for implementation, identified strategies lack evidence of effectiveness, and/ or priority practices are not effectively disseminated among all staff.

PCBS is an important priority:

• Students benefit when teachers implement evidence-based classroom management practices.1
• Ineffective instruction and classroom management contributes to low student achievement and increased referrals to special education.2
• Limited skills in classroom management are prim ary predictors of teacher stress, burnout, and attrition.3

Alignment and Integration Resources:

• PBIS Implementation B lueprint
• Techni cal Guide for A l ignment
• Integrated Systems Framew ork M onograph
• D istrict Capaci ty A ssessment

School and district resources are available to support PCBS implementation

Staff have time dedicated to support PCBS implementation.

A portion of full faculty meetings, grade l evel team meetings, professional learning community, and/or department meeting time is designated for discussion of and problem solving around PCBS.

Instructional coaches and/or building leaders are aware of and promote use of PCBS along with academic instructional practices.

Implementation fidelity and outcome data (e.g., increased instructional time, fewer disruptions, improved achievement data) are regularly shared with staff and time is dedicated for problem solving around available information.

Improved implementation is regularly recognized by building leaders (e.g., administration and/or leadership team) with individual teachers and/or with full staff.

Budget allocations have been identified to support PCBS implementation at school and/or district levels.

Time is not designated or protected for data-based conversations about PCBS.

Instructional coaches are only avail able for and/or provide feedback about academic instructional strategies.

Data about implementation of PCBS is unavailable, not regularly shared with staff or is not used in a problem-solving fashion.

Staff recognition is not available to support effective implementation of PCBS.


School and district teams have considered alignment and integration of PCBS with other district priorities, needs, and initiatives

Implementation of PCBS is connected to a clear need in the building.

Implementation of PCBS is connected to academic instructional practices.

PCBS strategies are adapted to ensure classroom contextual fit (e.g., values, philosophy, pedagogy of local educators, developmental age and learning history of students).

Data demonstrating need for PCBS is not regularly shared with staff.

Academic instructional strategies are taught in isolation rather than promoted as intertwined with behavior support practices.

Providing training on technical components of practices without connecting to "why" this is important to values of the school.


Table 2.


System Feature Description

What are the critical features?

Examples of PCBS Features

How can I implement this feature in my school?

Non-examples of PCBS Features

What should I avoid when I'm implementing this feature?

Empirical Support and Resources

What evidence supports this feature and where can I find additional resources?

Explicit Professional Development (PD)

Includes clearly communicated measurable outcomes selected intentionally based on data and school need.

Clearly defines critical features of targeted practices and provides a rationale for each.

Provides opportunities to practice and apply PCBS skills.

Components of explicit PD are described further in next two rows.

PD consists of theory and discussion alone.

PD assumes educators will discover new practices on their own.

Empirical Support:
Researchers suggest the following aspects of PD are likely to lead to implementation.4

• Teachers should play an active role in PD and not be "passive recipients."
• PD should be a sustained effort that consistently and strategically builds toward an established goal.
• Effective PD is job-embedded, with multiple methods of engaging (e.g., on-demand resources, presentations, practice guides).
• PD should include integrated opportunities for ongoing support and peer collaboration.
• PD is more effective if it involves recurring opportunities for self-assessment of the targeted practice against a set of standards.

PBIS Professional Development Blueprint

  • PD sessions consistently include model, lead & test components

The school coach provides an overview of specific PCBS skills and a rationale for their use. Educators create a plan for using targeted skills in their classrooms and practice skills together. The coach and other educators provide feedback.

Educators attend a full day training in classroom practices. Practices are described theoretically and educators are not given opportunities to practice or receive feedback.

Training material examples that include critical features of explicit training

• Mid-Atlantic classroom training materials and implementation snapshots
• Missouri Classroom practices instructional videos
• Louisville classroom practices videos
• Missouri checklist for High Quality Professional Development

  • PD is targeted, on-going, job-embedded, connected with identified practices, and systemic supports

School leadership team regularly provides brief 10—15 min PD on targeted strategy as a part of a faculty meeting. Targeted strategy is directly linked to school need using data. Leadership teams plan for follow up supports to improve implementation in each classroom.

Professional development sessions are delivered and followed up on in a variety of instructional contexts including, full staff/whole group, grade level teams, Professional Learning Communities, on-demand resources (e.g., voice over power points; webinars), book studies, or content/department areas.

PD includes only a series of short-term, unrelated workshops that fail to address the specific needs of the classrooms in the school and provide no follow up or implementation guidance.

One or more PD workshops are offered on a relevant topic but with no follow up support.


Coaching and Performance feedback

Provides prompts and reminders to educators related to targeted strategy implementation.

Provides supportive data-based feedback and suggestions for improving implementation.

Supports may be delivered by internal or external coach, mentor, peer, or self (as described in next three rows).

Data used in an evaluative or punitive fashion.

Feedback provided to educators is too delayed or not clear in pointing out desired performance regarding the practices.

Empirical Support:
Research supports the importance of coaching and performance feedback

• One time PD events are insufficient for improving implementation of classroom practices.5
• Training followed by on-going coaching and performance feedback leads to improved implementation.6


• NIRN Coaching Service Delivery Plan
• Wisconsin Coaching materials
• NEPBIS Coaching Manual

  • Internal or external coach or mentor

School or district behavior coach sends regular reminders to staff of the critical features of PCBS strategies, conducts walk through observations of educators, and provides specific and supportive feedback.

Mentors assigned to support educators provide reminders of the critical features of PCBS strategies, collect data on the use of each skill, and provide supportive data-based feedback.

Mentoring or coaching conversations are not focused on specific PCBS strategies or guided by data.

Data are not kept confidential but are shared with peers or administrators or used for evaluative purposes.

Empirical support:
• Coaching improves the impact and sustainability of overall school reform efforts.7
• Coaching improves individual implementation of evidence-based practices.8

Mid-Atlantic Classroom Coaching Guide
Florida PBIS Resources: Classroom Coaching Guide
  • Peer

Professional Learning Communities established within grade level or department teams focus on strategies targeted for improvement; team members review critical features of targeted practice and provides feedback and implementation support to each other.

Pairs of educators work together reminding one another of the critical features of each skill, provide practice opportunities, and observational feedback.

Educators commit to being a dedicated coach for at least one strategy and a dedicated learner of a new strategy.

Lack of structure for meetings (e.g., not using data to select targeted skills or guide conversations); lack of trust among members; focus becomes student-specific rather than educator skills focused.

Empirical Support:

• Structured peer support results in increases in teachers' use of evidence-based classroom practices.9


• Showers, B. & Joyce, B. (1991). The Evolution of Peer Coaching. Educational Leadership. 53, 12-16.
• Robbins, P. (1991) How to Plan and Implement a Peer Coaching Program. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD)

  • Self

Educators are provided with explicit instruction in one or more specific classroom management strategies. Educators set a goal for improvement and are provided with a tool for data collection and evaluation. Educators self-reinforce when they meet their goal.

Asking educators to self-manage without clearly understanding the targeted strategy or data collection component.

Empirical Support:
• Teachers implementing self-management effectively increase their use of evidence-based classroom practices.10

• NEPBIS self-monitoring training scripts and resources

Table 3.


Data Collection Strategy

What key strategies can I use to collect data on teacher PCBS implementation?

Conditions and Examples

Under what conditions will this strategy be appropriate?

Non Examples of Use

Under what conditions will this strategy be inappropriate?

Tools and Resources for Data Collection Method

What are some sample tools?

Self-Assessment Checklists

Staff have received training on and can identify examples of each measured skill.

Staff are unable to recognize or describe PCBS practices.

Staff have not been trained in use of the checklist.

Classroom management self-assessment

MO SW-PBS Teacher Self-Assessment of the Effective Classroom Practices (2016)

Observer Checklists

Prepare staff for visit; ensure opportunities for shared reflection and problem solving.

Observations are used for evaluation purposes or data is not shared back with staff.

MO SW-PBS Teacher Self-Assessment of Effective Classroom Practices

Wisconsin Walk through tools

Tools for Measuring Discrete Skills or Strategies

Staff have received training on and can identify examples of each measured skill.

Staff have set specific goals for improvement of targeted skills.

Data needed for decision making requires information on more than one or two discrete skills.

Self-management training scripts and tools

Data-collection applications

Intensifying Supports for the Effective implementation of Classroom PBIS

In much the same manner as we support students, we should also consider how to best support educators' implementation of PCBS with fidelity. Students cannot benefit from interventions they do not experience (Fixsen, Blase, Horner, Sims & Sugai, 2008). In order to support PCBS implementation, we need to set up the conditions for educators to be successful. This is stated well by Elmore (2002) "For every increment of performance I demand from you, I have an equal responsibility to provide you with the capacity to meet that expectation" (p. ??). Leadership teams may consider intensifying coach or mentor, peer, or self-delivered supports.

Table 4.


Universal Support
This category of broad support is provided universally to all educators to improve PCBS

Supplemental Support
This category identifies a more strategic approach of support that focuses on core factors that should be in place for effective implementation of PCBS

Individualized Support
This category of specialized supports considers the unique needs of educators in implementation of PCBS

Focus of supports (precision)

The school and/or district provides general guidance on PCBS.

Ensure that there is administrative support for PCBS through visibility, policy, and priority.

Small groups of educators express interest in or indicate need for increased support.

Support is provided by giving additional information or professional development on PCBS and removal of barriers that may interfere (e.g., competing initiatives, access to training/coaching).

Individual educators are identified for specialized support. This support is matched to the need of the educator through functional assessment to determine if there is a skills deficit (educator does not have the requisite skills to implement PCBS) or performance deficit (educator has the skillset but does not consistently implement the PCBS).

Removing barriers that may interfere with effective PCBS practices (competing initiatives, access to training/coaching).

Performance expectationsExpectations are communicated to all staff to develop a school climate conducive to learning.Expectations are re-iterated or re-visited with selected/some staff to further communicate the importunate of school climate for their classrooms (e.g., grade level).Expectations are communicated specifically and clearly to individual teachers about the importance of developing effective classroom environments.
Learning application opportunityReview of training content that was previously provided.Additional opportunities to practice PCBS in a training setting with feedback from the trainer are provided.Provide additional opportunity to provide practice of PCBS in actual classroom setting with guidance and feedback from a coach.
Amount and frequency of the supportProvide high quality training with professional learning community to support implementation.Increased opportunities for coaching as a follow-up to training are available for interested staff.Provide frequent individual coaching through coaching, video review of recorded session, bug-in-the ear coaching, or other practices.
Organization resourcesAll staff are provided with basic resources and materials to implement PCBS.Some educators are offered more time or specialized resources to better address their challenges in implementing PCBS.Provided resources are specifically matched to the needs of the individual teacher based on skills, motivation, adaptive and technical concerns.
Adaptive concernsAlignment of why PCBS is important for the students within the school/district and how this reflects educator philosophy/beliefs.Alignment of why PCBS is important for the students learning within the classroom and how this reflects educator philosophy/beliefs.Specific alignment of why PCBS is important for the individual teacher and outcomes for students within the classroom and how this reflects educator philosophy/ beliefs.
ContextualizationProblem-solving and professional development examples are broad and cover the general case scenarios (what typically occurs in the classroom of all educators).Problem-solving and professional development examples focus on the challenges faced by a smaller group of teachers within the school in implementing PCBS practices (what typically occurs in classroom of the small group of educators).Problem-solving and professional develop examples are specific to the individual educator's classroom setting.
Acknowledgement of implementation practicesAll educators are acknowledged for developing classroom climates.Selected or participating educators are acknowledged with greater frequency for implementing classroom climate practices.Individual educators are acknowledged at high rates for implementing specific classroom PBIS practices.

Scenario: Establishing Systems to support Classroom Implementation at the School Level

Northeast Middle School is working to implement a multi-tiered behavior framework (MTBF) in their school and is a part of a larger district implementation effort. As the school-wide leadership team reviewed their student and teacher school-wide data, they noted that implementation of classroom practices was an area of need. Walk through observation data in addition to teacher reports indicated that implementation of PCBS strategies in each classroom was inconsistent. In some classrooms strategies were implemented consistently and effectively, whereas in others teachers were struggling to effectively implement PCBS.

Priority, Resources, and Alignment

As a part of their school-wide MTBF effort, teachers are currently expected to teach the school-wide expectations in the context of their classroom routines, and supporting teachers use of PCBS strategies is a clear priority for both the building and district administration. Administrators have clearly stated the expectation that all teachers implement PCBS practices in their classrooms and have dedicated resources (professional development time and coaching) to support this effort. Teachers at Northeast Middle School currently work in grade-level teams to plan instruction and address student needs. There is an existing staff recognition system through which teachers are acknowledged for implementing school-wide MTBF practices. Seeing that these foundations were in place, the Northeast Middle leadership team knew they were ready to begin improving the implementation PCBS strategies in all classrooms.
The leadership team began by looking at the current school-wide initiatives that teachers had been asked to implement this year. They made a list of each new initiative, the expected outcomes, the data that would be used to guide implementation, and the current training and coaching capacity using the table below. The leadership team determined that they did have a clear school and district priority to implement, the time, training and coaching resources they would need, and that this initiative did not overlap with others currently in place in the building. (for more information on integrating and aligning inactivates see the upcoming Technical Guide for Alignment on


Expected Outcome

Outcome/ Implementation Data

Training Capacity

Coaching Supports
New math curriculumImproved student math performanceStudent unit tests
Teacher self-reports
2-day training fall, winter and spring (6 days total) outside expertYes
PCBS implementationImproved student classroom behavior and climateClassroom behavior referrals
Classroom walkthroughs
2 PD days or faculty meeting time for brief (15-min) skill-focused trainings at each faculty meeting available for this topic. district coach could serve as trainerYes- District behavior coach available

PD and Coaching Supports

The next step for the leadership team was developing specific training and coaching supports to ensure that all teachers and educators in the building had a clear understanding of each PCBS practice and could implement it effectively. To ensure a common understanding of each PCBS practice, the team decided to use one of the available PD days to teach each strategy to all teachers. This training was scheduled prior to the start of the school year and teachers and other staff who work with students in the building were invited to attend. The leadership team worked with the district behavior coach to plan a training that included explicit training on what each PCBS skill was- including examples and non-examples of each skill. Teachers were then given opportunities to practice each skill first by talking about and scripting how they might use each skill in their classroom, then teachers were given a chance to role play each skill with their grade-level teams. Finally, grade-level teams were asked to select one PCBS skill they would focus on implementing for the next month. Teachers set specific implementation goals and shared these with their grade-level teams.
The leadership team also realized providing coaching or performance feedback is an essential component of effective PD. The district coach was available to support some teachers but could not support all teachers. Instead the leadership team used the last part of the PD sessions to ask teachers to pair up with another teacher in their grade level and arrange for weekly 15-min peer observations which would be focused on the specific skill targeted by that grade level. Teachers were asked to take 15 min and observe a peer – simply counting the number of times each skill was used. Teachers practiced observing and giving positive feedback to each other prior to leaving the PD session. At the end of the month, grade-level teams would meet again to share progress toward their PCBS implementation goals and select a new PCBS practice to focus on for the next month.

Data to Drive Decision Making and Intensify Supports

The leadership team anticipated that this level of PD and peer coaching supports would be sufficient for most of their teachers, but they recognized that some teachers may need more support. The district behavior coach arranged to attend the monthly grade level meetings where teachers were sharing their implementation progress and the data from their peer observations. Through this process the coach was able to identify several teachers who had data to support their improved implementation and several teachers who needed additional support, as their data indicated that the PCBS practice had not improved. The coach was able to meet with the group of teachers who needed additional support to review the strategy, help teachers identify ways to use the strategy in their classrooms, and set up reminders for themselves about using the strategy. The coach then offered to do follow up observations to provide ongoing feedback and support. In addition to doing quick frequency counts of the targeted practices, the coach used a more formal walkthrough tool to support observations and to gather additional information about the teachers' overall use of PCBS practices. The coach then met with each teacher briefly after each observation to provide specific positive feedback about progress toward the goal and overall classroom practice use as well as tips or strategies for further improvement. This process provided teachers that needed supplemental support with increased focus and instruction on the target skill, support from the coach to help align the practice to each teachers' specific context, additional performance feedback, and acknowledgement for progress toward the goal.
This level of support was sufficient to allow most of the teachers needing supplemental support to implement the targeted PCBS practice effectively. However, two teachers with particularly challenging classes and less teaching experience still needed additional support. The coach was able to identify these teachers using the walkthrough data that was collected and was able to offer individualized consultation and support to those teachers.

Summary of Systems to Support Teachers' Implementation of PCBS Practices

The system supports described in this brief should be useful to all school and district leadership teams as they support teachers' implementation of PCBS practices. Effective implementation of PCBS requires clearly defining practices (what), that will be implemented by all teachers and in all classrooms (where). This guide is designed to support school and district leadership teams as they consider a range of implementation supporters (who) and specific training and follow up supports (how) that will ensure all teachers have the knowledge, skill, opportunity, and support to use PCBS practices effectively.
To reiterate, this brief does not provide comprehensive coverage of all possible systems to support teachers' implementation of PCBS, nor is it prescriptive. Effective systems will differ across schools and districts as they will need to match the need, context, and culture of the school and district. Coordinating implementation within a broader school-wide Multi-Tiered Behavior Framework will enhance outcomes and improve implementation efficiency.


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  1. Simonsen, Fairbanks, Briesch, Myers, & Sugai, 2008
  2. Donovan & Cross, 2002; Harrell, Leavell, van Tassel, & McKee, 2004; Oliver & Reschly, 2007
  3. Berliner, 1986; Brouwers & Tomic, 2000; Espin & Yell, 1994; Harrell et al., 2004; Ingersoll & Smith, 2003; Zabel & Zabel, 2002
  4. Borgmeier, Loman, & Hara, 2016; Curry & Killion, 2009; Darling-Hammond et al., 2009; Desimone, Porter, Garet, Yoon, & Birman, 2002; Goddard, Goddard, & Tschannen-Moran, 2007; Graham, 2007; Trivette, Dunst, Hamby & O'Herin, 2009
  5. Fixsen et al., 2005; Joyce & Showers, 2002; Oliver & Reschly, 2007; Smeele et al., 1999; Stokes & Baer, 1977; Sugai & Horner, 2006
  6. Abbott et al., 1998; Jeffrey, McCurdy, Ewing, & Polis, 2009; Noell, Witt, Gilbertson, Rainer, & Freeman, 1997; Simonsen, Myers, & DeLuca, 2010
  7. Adelman & Taylor, 2007; Annenberg Institute for School Reform, 2004; Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, 2005
  8. Donovan & Cross, 2002; Harrell, Leavell, van Tassel, & McKee, 2004; Oliver & Reschly, 2007
  9. Borgmeier & Loman, 2016
  10. Allinder, Bolling, Oats, and Gagnon, 2000; Browder, Liberty, Heller, and D'Huyvetters, 1986; Keller, Brady, & Taylor, 2005; Sutherland & Wehby, 2001; Workman, Watson, & Helton, 1982