TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) - Officials from Toledo Public Schools have been working diligently in recent years to reduce the number of student suspensions and expulsions. Through the implementation of several different initiatives, the district has shown a significant decline in disciplinary issues.
On Monday morning, TPS officials held a press conference to outline plans to expand the Positive Behavior Intervention Support program, a discipline program designed to promote student successes through the use of positive reinforcement measures. PBIS has been successfully implemented at several schools with initial results indicating a 20 to 60 percent decrease in disciplinary referrals.
"Instead of focusing on the consequences of bad behaviors, we're actually teaching the positive behaviors first, and then complementing those, and children are getting rewarded for those positive behaviors," explained Juliane Gault, principal at Reynold's Elementary School.
PBIS is based on a number of factors, including effective classroom management and improved support for students. Outcomes of the program can range from students having a greater understanding of their behavior and its impact on their classmates, an improved social climate in the school, as well as a higher academic performance.
"We're setting the standards. We're asking the kids to rise to those standards, and we all know kids will rise to any standards you give them. If you set the bar low, they'll stay low," said Gault.
Six elementary schools have introduced the program this school year, including Chase STEM Academy, East Broadway, Reynolds, McTigue, Samuel M. Jones at Gunckel Park and Riverside. Each school has established core behavior teams to work with students. Staff training and acceptance is one of the key components of PBIS and its success in a school environment.
Rev. James Willis from Toledoans United for Social Action and a representative from the Lucas County Juvenile Courts were also in attendance. TUSA has been critical of TPS for its discipline policies and procedures.
"In the past, we acted on emotions. This really gives the classroom the ability to work on positive behavior," said Willis.
Officials hope more students will stay in school and fewer will enter the juvenile justice system.
"This approach will allow us to take care of issues before they even evolve. So we're hoping by using positive behavior supports intervention is provided before we have situations where it would result in conflict mediation," said Brian Murphy, TPS assistant superintendent.
TPS expects the program to be implemented districtwide within five years.
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