A. Changing Schools' Responses to Behavior
In recent years, new behavioral approaches have sought to change the cultures of schools, shifting away from zero-tolerance policies and focusing instead on establishing positive and supportive climates. One such methodology is called Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS). Under this approach, teachers and administrators focus on rewarding and positively reinforcing students' good behavior rather than imposing harsh and exclusionary punishments for misbehavior. The technique also involves students, teachers, administrators, and parents in the process of establishing productive behavioral expectations.
*1273 PBIS has been shown to produce positive disciplinary outcomes in schools. After a school district in South Los Angeles instituted PBIS, the district experienced "a 13.3% decrease in suspensions, a 55.6% decrease in expulsions, and a 31.7% decrease in opportunity transfers." Likewise, a study of an urban high school found that the average number of daily referrals to the office decreased by 20% over the course of a year in which PBIS was implemented. These findings suggest that PBIS may reduce student misbehavior and resolve conflicts within schools without relying on harsh disciplinary practices such as zero tolerance. Moreover, these methodologies can create nurturing learning environments where students feel valued, thereby resulting in improved educational outcomes and higher graduation rates. Local school boards and school administrators should work to replace punitive disciplinary policies with PBIS and other similar approaches.