Three-tier Training

Three-tiered, Facility-wide Positive Behavior Support Training
Opportunities for PRTF Training in Kansas
Learn More About Facility-wide Positive Behavior Support
Data-based Decision Making
Calendar of Events

Three-tiered, Facility-wide Positive Behavior Support Training

Across the United States, alternative treatment centers, juvenile correctional facilities, and other organizations that support children and youth with problem behavior have been modifying an approach called School-wide Positive Behavior Support (SWPBS) to their unique settings to prevent serious problem behavior. The SWPBS model includes a three-tiered prevention model taken from the field of public health and applied to educational settings.

SWPBS includes team-based and consensus driven problem-solving at each of the three prevention tiers. A triangle is frequently used to show how prevention-based strategies become increasingly intensive at each tier, universal, secondary, and tertiary levels.

Figure 1. Integration of tiered models of prevention.

Figure 1

In SWPBS, the first tier is primary prevention and involves actively teaching all students within a school setting a set of social skills and reinforcing them across all school and school-related settings, while all adults respond to the occurrence of problem behavior in a consistent manner.

The second tier in educational settings is secondary prevention and is intended to identify and support students who have learning, behavior, or life histories that put them at-risk of engaging in more serious problem behavior.

Tier three, or tertiary prevention strategies, focuses on individualized and intensive PBS plans designed for a smaller number of students who need more support than interventions implemented at primary and secondary prevention levels. School-wide planning teams work closely with school staff using consensus-based strategies to design interventions at each tier and use data, systems and practices to implement SWPBS.

Figure 1 shows how experts in the mental health field have used the tiered method in a similar fashion. However, in this model, the entire population is targeted for interventions that focus on health promotion, not just in a school setting. In addition, this model includes children identified at the universal level with interventions crossing home, school, and community settings.

At the secondary level, mental health professionals make a distinction between Selective Prevention strategies intended to support groups of children/youth who are at-risk for mental health and behavioral problems while Indicated Prevention strategies are meant to support children/youth who may show symptoms of a particular diagnosis but may not yet meet criteria for that mental health or other diagnosis.

Figure 2 below shows that teams working together to prevent problem behavior focus on teaching social competence, safety, academic and vocational achievement. The training provided to teams avoid the “Train and Hope” model that relies mainly on individual workshops to share information.

Positive social and emotional outcomes are achieved by using data gathered by a facility strategically to inform what social skills practices are most important and to increase positive reinforcement given to children and youth who practice and demonstrate positive social skills across home, school, and community settings. Practices are put in place by teams who focus on the systems within organizations. Staff members need opportunities to meet, gain consensus, and build interventions together. Reinforcement for staff members is equally as important since our adults model the social skills we want our children and youth to learn.

Figure 2. Positive behavior support and systems change: Avoiding the “one-shot workshop” approach.

Figure 2

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Opportunities for PRTF Training in Kansas

Planning teams within PRTF facilities that choose to participate in this team-based training will be learning how to: a) work together with all staff to assess the already existing strengths within the facility; b) identify individuals with experience in wraparound and/or person-centered planning and positive behavior support; and c) build action plans that will focus on creating positive host environments that will make it easier to assist children and youth in moving back into their home community, family, and school settings.

As you can see from the figure below, an important part of PRTF Facility-wide PBS is to assess and intervene across all settings including the educational, residential, and facility-wide settings in which children and youth live and learn. Data collected by the team help show what settings are the most important areas in which to intervene. PRTF staff members who are already implementing Facility-wide Positive Behavior Support have indicated that there are a number of benefits in addition to decreases in problem behavior including better communication across residential and educational settings, more consistent implementation across staff members, and the empowerment of children/youth in the problem solving process.

Figure 3. Facility-wide systems change efforts: Implementing 3-tiered prevention across settings.

Figure 3

PRTFs are welcome to sign up for team-based trainings that will be scheduled across three to four regions in Kansas. If PRTF leadership and staff members are interested, they will be asked to identify a minimum of six to eight professionals who represent key areas within their PRTF facilities (e.g. residential, education, administration, etc.).

The PRTF teams will meet three times throughout the year, share progress being made and learn more information at each training. Each team will be asked to identify a coach who will be a point person who 1) meets with other coaches, 2) encourages meetings to be schedule regularly within his/her PRTF to continue implementation efforts, and remind teams to collect, summarize, and review data.

At the administrator level, leaders will be asked to identify one person at the management level who will oversee multiple PRTFs or one main organization. This person will meet regularly with coaches to help problem solve and gather information to share with the KU staff when additional supports might be needed. This model recommends management level meeting that focus on ensuring sustainability by creating a three-year PBS plan that considers funding, political support, policies, professional development, overall evaluation, and building behavioral expertise.

Trainings scheduled through the year will be organized in the following manner:

Team Training Day 1: Universal evidence-based interventions that prevent problem behavior (Tier 1),

Team Training Day 2: How to use data to screen for escalating problem behavior, implement group and targeted interventions to avoid further escalation, and progress monitor children over time (Tier 2), and

Team Training Day 3: Information about how to design intensive individualized positive behavior support plans, and brainstorming with teams to break down barriers that make it difficult to provide effective transitions for individuals.

All teams will move at their own pace through the training. Some teams choose to stay at one prevention tier for a few years until full implementation is achieved.

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Learn More About Facility-wide Positive Behavior Support

For additional information, please visit the following:

Positive Behavior Support Offered In Juvenile Corrections
C. Michael Nelson, George Sugai, and Carl Smith
This paper is posted with permission from the National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE), which holds the copyright.

"PBIS for Youth Involved in Juvenile Corrections" Video
C. Michael Nelson (University of Kentucky) and Carl J. Liaupsin (University of Arizona)

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Data-based Decision Making

An essential element of facility-wide positive behavior support is data-based decision making. PRTF teams need to be able to access data related to problem behavior quickly without spending a great deal of time organizing, summarizing and reporting the data. One way in which teams have addressed this issue is to use the School-wide Information System (SWIS). Although SWIS was developed mainly for use in schools, a growing number of alternative settings supporting children who engage in problem behavior have starting using this data-based decision making system.

The SWIS system collects behavioral data over a 24-hour period and will soon provide data collection at all three prevention tiers (tiers one and two are now available). Another possible system that may be available to PRTFs in Kansas is currently in development in Missouri. The state of Missouri has a pilot program that has adapted the main elements of the SWIS for use in a variety of settings for both children and adults in residential and family settings. KU staff members will work collaboratively with PRTFs to identify the best way to collect behavioral data for this project.

To learn more about the SWIS system, please visit In the upper left hand corner is a link that allows professionals to visit a demonstration site.

Click here to view data collected by a PRTF in year 1 of facility-wide implementation efforts.

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