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Creating Positive High School Learning Environments George Sugai Neag School of Education, UConn May 18, 2006

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Presentation on theme: "Creating Positive High School Learning Environments George Sugai Neag School of Education, UConn May 18, 2006"— Presentation transcript:


2 Creating Positive High School Learning Environments George Sugai Neag School of Education, UConn May 18, 2006

3 My job today… Describe context for work we do in schools…focus on HS Describe & discuss what School- wide Positive Behavior Support looks like in HS

4 We work w/ HS that worry about… Low academic achievement & performance Antisocial behavior –Aggressive actions, dress code, language use, etc Low attendance Dropping out Substance use Mental health issues –Social w/drawal, depression, emotional disturbances, etc Social skill deficits

5 Problem behavior happens…. Insubordination/noncompliance Verbal/physical aggression Social withdrawal Skipping class/late to class Classroom disruptions Vandalism/stealing Harassment

6 Typical response focuses on “Get Tough” consequences Review rules & increase monitoring Increase security Remove, suspend, expel, exclude Set zero tolerance policies

7 Assumptions Students will “get it,” & take responsibility for change Someone else will address problem Punishment teaches how to act Remove troublemakers to improve climate

8 But….false sense of safety & security! Fosters environments of control Triggers & reinforces antisocial behavior Shifts accountability away from school Devalues child-adult relationship Weakens relationship between academic & social behavior programming

9 2001 Surgeon General’s Report Risk factors associated with increasing # of antisocial behaviors –Antisocial peer networks –Reinforced deviancy

10 Recommendations (rearrange contingencies…..prevention) –Establish “intolerant attitude toward deviance” Break up antisocial networks…change social context Improve parent effectiveness –Increase “commitment to school” Increase academic success Create positive school climates –Teach & encourage individual skills & competence

11 So…how should we respond? Understand unique features of high schools Understand adolescent development Adopt preventive approach Adopt evidence-based practices

12 PBS implementation challenges in HS Limited research data Disagreement about need Low fidelity of implementation Slow rate of progress Wide range of student competence & narrow curricular/programmatic options Dropout option/alternative HS Instructional Philosophy

13 SYSTEMS PRACTICES DATA Supporting Staff Behavior Supporting Decision Making Supporting Student Behavior Positive Behavior Support OUTCOMES Social Competence & Academic Achievement

14 What do PBS schools look like? “All” staff commit to active participation in improving school climate “All” staff members directly teach & encourage expected social behaviors “All” staff increase their daily positive contacts with kids in- & outside classroom Administrators increase their involvement in proactive student interactions & support “All” students are actively engaged & involved in at least one school-related activity Data are used for decision making Formal supports in place for non-responders

15 “Positive Office Referral” Balancing positive/negative adult/student contacts in Oregon Procedures –Develop equivalent positive referral –Process like negative referral

16 Are “Rewards” Dangerous? “…our research team has conducted a series of reviews and analysis of (the reward) literature; our conclusion is that there is no inherent negative property of reward. Our analyses indicate that the argument against the use of rewards is an overgeneralization based on a narrow set of circumstances.” –Cameron, 2002 Cameron & Pierce, 1994, 2002 Cameron, Banko & Pierce, 2001

17 Assumptions about adolescents Adolescents should know better…most do Adolescents must take responsibility for own behavior….most know they should & do….appropriately & inappropriately Adolescents will learn from natural consequences….most do

18 Guiding Principles “Knowing” or saying “know” does NOT mean “will do” Students “do more” when “doing works”…appropriate & inappropriate Natural consequences are varied, unpredictable, undependable,…not preventive

19 What about non-responders? More intensive & formal supports provided –Adult mentoring –Social skills instruction –Academic accommodations –Student/family centered planning Adoption of function based approach

20 Questions to ponder Does current school climate positively support academic & social success for 70- 80% of students? Are most staff consistently proactive in their approach to supporting student social behavior Are effective & efficient supports in place for students whose behaviors are unresponsive to school-wide efforts?

21 To conclude: Improving school climate is about…. Increasing staff positive, active involvement in teaching & encouraging appropriate behavior Balancing use of consequences for rule violations w/ consequences for rule-following Discontinuing use of ineffective, non-outcome linked activities Increasing student & staff involvement, priority, & responsibility for establishing positive school climate Establishing continuum of positive supports for all students

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