With the passage of the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) and its amendments, Congress recognized schools must be inclusive of all students and use evidence-based approaches to support the social, emotional, and behavioral needs of students with disabilities. Despite this progress, students with disabilities continue to be excluded from general education settings. PBIS is the only approach specifically mentioned in the law for preventing exclusion, improving educational outcomes, and addressing the behavior support needs of students with disabilities. For more detailed information see Why implement Tier 1 PBIS for Students with Disabilities?
Why implement PBIS with students with disabilities? Research shows that when schools implement PBIS, students with disabilities benefit (see details in Table 1, below).
Children and youth with disabilities benefit from free, appropriate, public education designed to meet their unique needs. At the same time, we serve students with disabilities best when we integrate their general and specialized supports into the larger school-wide PBIS framework.
Students with disabilities benefit from Tier 1 when supports are developed and provided in a way that is accessible and relevant to all. Within classrooms, children with and without disabilities benefit from explicit instruction in social, emotional, and behavioral skills, lots of opportunities to respond, positive acknowledgements, and brief reminders, like prompts and pre-corrections. The suggestions for differentiating Tier 1 below allow students with disabilities to access Tier 1 supports alongside their peers. Check out Supporting Students with Disabilities in the Classroom within a PBIS Framework for more examples of Tier 1 practices.
Students with disabilities who have targeted social, emotional, and behavioral needs may benefit from Tier 2 supports. Tier 2 interventions are targeted to address common needs for small groups of students. (To learn more about Tier 2, visit our Tier 2 topic page.) One consideration when supporting students with disabilities through Tier 2 interventions is to ensure the Tier 2 intervention does not reduce or replace services outlined in the student’s IEP. Considerations for differentiating Tier 2 supports for students with disabilities are outlined in Figure 1, below.
Tier 3 supports a few students who have intensive or individualized social, emotional, and behavioral needs that persist or remain unmet with Tier 1 and Tier 2 supports alone. It is important to recognize that Special Education services are not the same as Tier 3 supports. Students with and without IEPs can benefit from Tier 3 supports if Tier 1 and Tier 2 supports alone have not been successful in meeting the student’s needs. Tier 3 supports include designing individualized Behavior Support Plans (BSP) with interventions driven by Functional Behavioral Assessments (FBA). Teams may apply a person-centered or wraparound process to support students with complex needs. These supports place the student and family at the center of the support. (To learn more about Tier 3, visit our Tier 3 topic page.)
Students with disabilities access Tier 3 interventions in two ways
When a student is suspected to have a disability, teams follow their district policies and procedures to comply with IDEA regulations.
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.