Schools across the nation strive toward providing a safe, positive educational experience. Part of this experience includes teaching students desired behaviors that will translate into social, emotional, and academic success as they move through the educational process. To that end, many schools employ Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports, also known as PBIS. PBIS is a proactive approach to teaching behavioral expectations and creating a climate where positive and appropriate behavior is seen as normal.
At-Risk Students, At-Risk Schools
As much as we would like to believe that all children arrive at the schoolhouse doors ready to learn, the truth of the matter is, many kids are at risk for a poor educational experience due to behavioral issues. Lack of positive behavioral supports in the home often translates to poor behavior in the school environment, and for schools serving an at-risk population, implementing a PBIS program is important if the school is ever going to be able to properly educate its students.
As part of their PBIS framework, many schools adopt an incentives program. A PBIS incentives program uses token rewards to encourage students to act responsibly in all areas of school life. Most PBIS incentives programs within the school setting are do-it-yourself affairs, with teachers and administrators issuing points via paper tickets and students redeeming these tickets for rewards. It’s labor-intensive, difficult to accurately administrate, and ultimately less effective.
Improving the PBIS Incentives Model
The staff and teachers at McGary Middle School knew that implementing a PBIS incentives system had the potential to improve both behavior and academic success in its student body, but found the administration of such a program to be cumbersome and inaccurate. “The ticket system was hard to manage,” says McGary principal Dale Naylor. “Teachers had to keep tickets with them at all times, and the students would lose their tickets or couldn’t keep track of them. Just horrendous challenges using the ticket system.”
Could the ticket-based PBIS system at McGary Middle School be improved? Lieberman Technologies took up the challenge.
A Paperless Rewards System
The central issue with McGary’s PBIS system was the use of paper tickets. Paper tickets were costly and time-consuming to produce, and each teacher needed to keep a supply of tickets with them at all times or risk missing the opportunity to acknowledge and reinforce positive behaviors. Students faced difficulties with keeping track of the tickets they had earned, which limited their ability to redeem points.
McGary knew that technology could simplify the management of their incentives program and even toyed around with the use of smartphones to help with the awarding of points. McGary then asked Lieberman Technologies if they could take this raw idea of automating an incentives program and grow it into a completely automated school-wide system that could be used by every staff member in the school regardless of the setting. The result was PBIS Rewards, a completely automated PBIS Incentives Management System.
PBIS Rewards is essentially a debit card system. Students earn points for good behavior and for participating appropriately in school life. The students can use these points to purchase privileges and tangible items. Points can be awarded with the PBIS Rewards smartphone app or can be awarded from the PBIS Rewards desktop portal in the classroom. Every staff person is involved in recognizing good behavior and rewarding students.
“The students have found that PBIS Rewards is a much easier system,” says Naylor. “They don’t have to keep track of tickets, and because it’s all electronic, it’s almost like a bank account for them.”
A Wealth of Data
A component of the PBIS Rewards system is the wealth of data that it returns. Everything in the system is tracked and recorded, allowing McGary to manage every aspect of the program. Students can check their balance in the student portal. And the system returns reports that show how teachers are using the program, giving administrators valuable information about additional staff training or feedback that may be needed.
Teachers at McGary have embraced the PBIS Rewards system wholeheartedly. “To teach kids,” says McGary teacher Amy Walker, “you have to form relationships with them. That’s very important to the kids here. Relationship building goes right along with the PBIS system because they want to be rewarded. PBIS Rewards has helped me to be successful as a teacher here because it’s easy to reward the kids for positive behavior.”
Changing Schools Across the Nation
PBIS Rewards has grown far beyond the confines of McGary Middle School. Based on the feedback received from the teachers and administrators at McGary, Lieberman Technologies now offers the solution into schools across the nation, and many schools have embraced the system. PBIS Rewards is currently in use in schools in 14 different states, including some of the largest school districts in the country. As the roster of schools using PBIS Rewards continues to grow, educators all across the nation are finding that PBIS Rewards can help to make their school a better place for learning.