Classroom PBIS

View over female teacher's shoulder of primary school kids sitting in front of her cross legged on the floor of the classroom
You might know classroom PBIS as positive classroom behavior support, positive and proactive classroom management, or by some other similar sounding name. They’re all different ways of describing the same critical features of PBIS – practices, data, and systems – tailored to create better outcomes in your classrooms.

What Is Classroom PBIS?

In the same way PBIS operates school-wide as a multi-tiered framework, school personnel implement a full continuum of classroom PBIS practices to meet students’ needs. Beyond that, school and district leadership teams offer a tiered approach to training, coaching, and feedback to educators to support their classroom PBIS implementation. By differentiating support levels for all, some, and a few students and educators, leadership teams can effectively support all students and staff.

Why Address PBIS Implementation in Classrooms?

Classroom PBIS is critical to students and school personnel success. When PBIS is implemented in the classroom, individual student outcomes improve.[1]  At the school-wide level, schools experience overall improved outcomes and are more likely to sustain their PBIS implementation.[2]

Foundational Elements

There are three foundational elements to classroom PBIS:

  • Evidence-based practices
  • systems to support classroom PBIS Implementation
  • data to guide decision making about classroom PBIS implementation

Classroom PBIS Practices

Classroom PBIS practices are preventative and responsive. They are strategies you can implement with all students needing support at any tier. When implemented with fidelity, classroom PBIS practices lead to fewer disruptions, improved student behavioral and academic outcomes, and more time spent teaching,

Positive classroom practices include:

  • An effectively designed physical classroom
  • Predictable classroom routines
  • 3-5 posted positive classroom expectations
  • Prompts and active supervision
  • Varied opportunities to respond
  • Acknowledgements for expected behavior

For more information and ideas for PBIS practices in classroom settings, check out the Supporting and Responding to Behavior Guide.

Classroom PBIS Systems

For classroom PBIS to work effectively, school personnel need school and district leadership to put systems in place to support their effort. Specifically, leadership teams select and implement systems based on documented needs within their district and schools.

Systems supporting classroom PBIS include:

  • Classroom PBIS implementation is a school and district priority
  • Available district/school resources to support classroom PBIS implementation
  • Alignment and integration with other school/district initiatives.
  • Clear expectations and explicit training about classroom PBIS practices.
  • On-going coaching and performance feedback

More information about implementing PBIS systems in classroom settings can be found in the PBIS Technical Brief on Systems to Support Teacher's Implementation of Positive Classroom Behavior Support.

Classroom PBIS Data

Classroom PBIS requires on-going attention to improve upon the systems and practices you have in place. Data are an active, dynamic part of informing these decisions. Data are objective, observable, and measurable pieces of information about students, school personnel, and schools. All data should be valid, accurate, reliable, and efficient.

Data guide instruction and classroom PBIS implementation by:

  • Assessing how well core features of a practice or system are implemented
  • Evaluating progress toward desired goals
  • Guiding a problem-solving process
  • Informing an action plan for improvement
  • Considering local norms and values when selecting and measuring strategies
  • Ensuring strategies support all individuals

For more information about which data best support classroom practices and systems, download a copy of the PBIS Technical Guide on Classroom Data.

Tiers of Classroom PBIS

Just as with school-wide PBIS, school personnel implement a multi-tiered system of PBIS practices in their classrooms. In addition, school and district leadership teams implement a full continuum of training, coaching, and professional feedback systems to support school personnel in their classroom efforts. By differentiating supports for all, some, and a few students and educators, leadership teams can effectively support all students and staff.

Tier 1

Tier 1 elements of classroom PBIS apply to every student in the room, regardless of the additional supports they receive. At this tier, school personnel should expect to meet the needs of most (>80%) of their students.

These proactive, preventative, positive elements include:

  • Designing effective classroom environments
  • Developing and teaching predictable classroom routines
  • Explicitly posting and teaching positively-stated classroom expectations
  • Delivering engaging instruction
  • Providing prompts and active supervision
  • Acknowledging students with specific praise
  • Responding to problem behavior with redirections and corrections

Similarly, at Tier 1 there are systems to support school personnel. At this tier, school and district leadership teams should expect to meet the needs of most (>80%) school personnel. Systems at this tier include, resources, effective professional development, coaching, and feedback.

Tier 2

The goal at Tier 2 is to align a school’s Tier 2 supports with existing classroom practices. For example, school personnel may teach all students a social skill (Tier 1) that individual students learned during a social skills group (Tier 2). During that instruction, school personnel highlight how that skill fits with their classroom expectations. Following instruction, school personnel may increase prompts and specific feedback for that social skill.

Leadership teams may find some educators require more targeted professional support to successfully implement classroom PBIS practices. For example, while all teachers may have a professional development plan, administrators may require mentoring for newly hired teachers as a Tier 2 strategy.

Tier 3

At Tier 3, school personnel support individual students who require intensive, individualized, support. Student-specific teams design behavior support plans (BSP) which include goals for school personnel to implement these strategies..

At this tier, leadership teams and administrators also support school personnel who require intensive, individualized professional development to be successful (e.g., 1:1 consultation). School personnel needing this type of support consult with a behavior coach, mentor, or administrator to develop his/her own individualized professional development plan. The school leadership team’s goal is to ensure that individualized supports are coordinated within the broader continuum of professional development supports.

Get Started with Classroom PBIS

Whether you are brand new to implementing classroom PBIS practices at your school, or you want to improve your existing framework, there are a few concepts to work around first.

Link to school-wide expectations and systems

Classroom PBIS works best when it is implemented within a school-wide PBIS framework. Expectations in the classroom should mirror the expectations at the building level. Aligning classroom expectations with school-wide expectations ensures students not only understand how the classroom works, but also gain a better understanding of what they need to do school-wide.

  • Does your Tier 1 implementation include strategies for identifying and teaching expectations, acknowledging appropriate behavior, and responding to misbehavior in the classroom?
  • What supports are in place for staff to implement Tier 1 strategies in their context? Examples might include: leadership teaming, supporting policy, coaching, on-going monitoring of implementation.

Integrate with effective instructional design, curriculum, and delivery

It can be more efficient and effective for school personnel to incorporate both academics and the core features of classroom. They are likely to use similar components of delivering quality instruction when they implement positive classroom systems and practices. Why not find ways to do both at the same time?

Monitor using classroom-based data to guide decision making

To use data to drive decisions, it’s important to have a process. We recommend asking the following set of questions in the decision-making cycle (consider questions related to equity along the way):

  1. Are core practices and systems implemented with fidelity?
  2. Are all individuals achieving desired outcomes?
    a.  If Yes: What is needed to sustain and improve implementation efficiency?
    b.  If No: continue to question 3.
  3. What is the nature of the problem?
  4. What action plan will enhance implementation?
  5. Repeat steps 1-5 regularly.


There are three resources best suited to guide your classroom PBIS implementation: one for practices, one for systems, and one for data.

Supporting and Responding to Behavior

This is the document to read about classroom PBIS practices. It includes an interactive map of classroom PBIS strategies, a self-assessment, examples of critical practices in elementary and secondary settings and so much more.

PBIS Technical Brief on Systems to Support Educators’ Implementation of Positive Classroom Support

This is a short guide to support school and district leadership teams as they work to implement classroom PBIS systems school-wide.

PBIS Technical Guide on Classroom Data: Using Data to Support Implementation of Positive Classroom Behavior Support Practices and Systems

This document describes the critical features of assessing fidelity, assessing outcomes, ensuring equity, and creating action plans. It walks through the types of data included in a comprehensive decision-making process, how to use data to support classroom PBIS implementation, and recommended tools.

[1](Lewis et al., 2004; Office of Special Education Programs, 2015; Simonsen et al., 2008)
[2](Childs et al. 2016; Mathews et al., 2014)
See More/Less


Resources in this section include assessments, blueprints, examples, and materials to aid in implementing PBIS.


Publications listed below include every eBook, monograph, brief, and guide written by the PBIS Technical Assistance Center.


Presentations about their experiences, published research, and best practices from recent sessions, webinars, and trainings


Recordings here include keynotes and presentations about PBIS concepts as well tips for implementation.