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BEST Behavior

At Glenwood Heights Primary School, we have implemented the BEST Behavior program through the Institute on Violence and Destructive Behavior at the University of Oregon. Below are some documents that we created to support the program at Glenwood

"Paws for Praise" - Positive Reinforcement Tickets PDF Word

Problem Solving Form K-2 PDF Word

Problem Solving Form 2+ PDF Word

Teacher FYI - Teacher Communication PDF Word

Student Assistance Form - Behavior Data Tracking Word

School Rules and Behavioral Expectations Word

Office Referral Form Word

B.E.S.T. Practices and Violence Prevention

Aurora Baxter
January 2003


The Problem of School Violence

School Violence has become an increasing national concern. Violence is the leading cause of death in persons aged 15 to 24 years (Young, Autry, Lee, Messemer, Roach, Smit, 2002). Less fatal violence, such as bullying, is very prevalent in schools. In a recent study, 82% of 9th grade students interviewed reported having experienced or seen acts of bullying in the lunchroom, and 76% reported experiencing or seeing it in the classroom(Harris, Petrie, & Willoughby, 2002). Forty-two percent of those students were also teased or called hurtful names.

Review of Literature

Many researchers have examined effective and ineffective practices for decreasing violent behavior in youth. Common elements were to: develop a constituency, involve stakeholders, use multiple approaches, emphasize positive behavior support, use brief, clearly defined universal rules, teach expected behaviors directly, provide consistent corrective feedback, and provide extra support for staff.

Sprague, Walker, Golly, White, Myers, and Shannon (2001) use a multifaceted approach, which contains the major components of BEST Practices, in order to decrease violence in schools. First the authors examine school factors that contribute to the development of antisocial behavior. They pinpoint six major contributors to antisocial behavior:

1) Ineffective instruction that results in academic failure.
2) Inconsistent and punitive management practices.
3) Lack of opportunity to learn and practice pro-social interpersonal and self-management skills.
4) Unclear rules and expectations regarding appropriate behavior.
5) Failure to enforce rules.
6) Failure to individualize instruction to adapt to individual differences (p. 496)

Punishment is often used in schools because it provides immediate results, but it can often increase the unwanted behaviors in the long run. Sprague et al also mention that many intervention attempts fail because they are used in isolation. For example, indirect interventions such as counseling, may fail if the student is not motivated to engage in therapy (p. 497). In order to use a multifaceted approach to school intervention, they implemented two programs: Effective behavioral support (EBS), and the
Second Step violence prevention curriculum that teaches social skills directly. EBS contains the following essential features:

1. Problem behaviors are defined clearly for students and staff members.
2. Appropriate, positive behaviors are defined for students and staff.
3. Students are taught these alternative behaviors directly and given assistance to acquire the necessary skills to enable the desired behavior change.
4. Effective incentives and motivational systems are developed and carried out to encourage students to behave differently.
5. Staff commits to staying with the intervention over the long term and to monitoring, supporting, coaching, debriefing, and providing booster shots as necessary to maintain the achieved gains.
6. Staff receives training and regular feedback about effective implementation of the interventions.
7. Systems for measuring and monitoring the intervention's effectiveness are established and carried out.

Sprague et al conclude by establishing the three types of prevention approaches classified by the U.S. Public Health Service: 1) primary, preventing the onset of a problem, 2) secondary, reducing problems, and 3) tertiary, reducing or reversing ongoing damage. They stress that an effective intervention must have all three types of intervention.

In chapter one of Best Practices of Youth Violence Prevention: A Sourcebook for Community Action, Thorton, Craft, Dahlberg, Lynch, and Baer (2000) describe twelve steps in planning and implementing a successful violence prevention program. First, describe the problem of youth violence in your community, using factual information, such as school, police or hospital records (p. 6). Interpret the data to determine if there is a need for intervention. Also seek out opinions from community members.

Next, identify intended participants for the intervention (p.8). Decide whether the program should be aimed at specific children, the all children, or the whole community. Then, identify possible settings in which to reach intended participants, i.e. schools, recreation centers, social service facilities, etc (p. 11). Next, set goals and objectives. Make sure they fit the characteristics and resources of community. Get input from all organizations involved to make the decisions. Make all objectives related to goal.

Then, select an intervention - or multiple interventions - that will most appropriately address your goals and objectives and meet the needs of your participants (p. 14). Next, locate public or private resources for your intervention ( p. 14). Then, be sure to involve the community in your effort (p. 18). Possible community participants include: government and community agencies and organizations, volunteer service organizations, clubs, professional groups, and private organizations (for profit and nonprofit).

Next, develop activities and materials for your intervention (p. 20). Be sure to consider cultural factors, and pretest materials and activities. Then hire and train staff (p. 22). Assess the staff members' readiness to participate. In order to be effective, teachers must believe that: violent behavior can be prevented, interventions can be effective in helping prevent violence, and they can personally make a difference in helping to prevent violence. Train staff in: communication skills, team building, and intervention content. Offer a training manual, practice skills, and continue training throughout the intervention process. Next, implement your intervention or interventions (p. 24). Then, monitor your intervention's progress (p. 24). Measure key variables to see if your objectives are being met, and get feedback from participants about the intervention's activities. Finally, Evaluate the success of your intervention (p. 25).

Leindhardt and Willert (2002) emphasize that violence does not occur in isolation. It is affected by factors such as exposure to violence, access to weapons, and abuse. Many of these factors are more related to family systems and community than schools. Therefore, they assert that effective violence prevention programs must use input from all parties involved, including students, parents, teachers, and other community members. Liendhardt and Willert feel that many intervention programs fail to use these valuable resources (p. 33). They obtained input from community members in 13 school districts, in 5 focus group meetings, in order to determine what common concerns they had. They all agreed that everyone should be responsible for school safety issues (p. 36). Most agreed that schools should provide services beyond the academic, in order to address the social and emotional needs of the students (p. 37). Students expressed a desire for teachers to respect them, listen to them, and care for them (p. 38). There was also a consensus that violence needed to be redefined to extend beyond physical assaults, to encompass harassment, pressure and put-downs. Leindhardt and Willert also concluded that schools should invest in staff development, and enhancing discipline procedures.

Young, Autry, Lee, Messemer, Roach and Smit examine student attitudes toward school safety further. First they divided school interventions into four categories: 1) educational, i.e. teaching positive behavior responses, 2) environmental/technological, i.e. metal detectors, etc. 3) recreation, i.e. sports participation, and 4) regulation, legal interventions (p. 107). Then they compiled a questionnaire aimed at assessing student attitudes towards each approach. The results indicated that many students felt helpless in regards to school safety issues. This led Young et al to the conclusion that schools should work to empower students by encouraging them to be "literate, critical consumers of media including television, newspapers, and the Internet (p. 113)."

Metzler, Biglan, Rusby and Sprague (2001) express concern that aggressive behavior is directly affected by how a school responds to it. For instance, such behavior will likely increase with punitive school environments, unclear rules, and inconsistent application of consequences (p. 449). They point out five key elements needed in an effective school wide behavior program: 1) increase positive reinforcement for pro-social behavior, 2) actively teach appropriate social behavior, 3) clearly communicate a small number of rules, 4) provide consistent corrective consequences, and 5) continually monitor data about student behavior. They also emphasize the importance of increasing staff and community support, in order to effectively implement interventions (p. 451).

Mayer also points out factors that contribute to a school environment that will likely promote antisocial behavior: 1) an over reliance on punitive methods; 2) unclear rules; 3) weak or inconsistent administrative support for staff, little staff support of one another, and a lack of staff agreement with policies; 4) academic failure experiences; 5) students lacking critical social skills; 6) misuse of behavior management procedures; 7) lack of cultural awareness; and 8) lack of student involvement (p. 417). Mayer uses these factors to establish methods for increasing pro-social behavior. 1) reduce punitive methods of control; 2) provide clear rules; 3) assure support for educators, 4) minimize academic failure experiences; 5) teach critical social skills; 6) use appropriate behavior management procedures; 7) respect cultural differences, 8) support student involvement.
Mattiani (2001) proposes an approach to violence prevention called PEACE POWER! He use three sources to develop his approach: "(a) an analysis of the ways that coercive behaviors and alternatives to those behaviors are selected at the biological, behavioral, and cultural levels (b) existing research and results of our own research; and (c) certain Native American traditions that converge in useful ways with contemporary behavioral science (p. 431)." The four key practices of PEACE POWER! are: "1) Recognize contributions and successes, 2) Act with respect, 3) Share power to build community, and 4) Make Peace (p. 433)."

Common Components of Effective Violence Prevention Programs

There are many common guidelines to implementing effective violence prevention programs:

1. Develop a constituency. Use data and reinforcement to increase school and community buy in.
2. Involve stakeholders. Get input from all involved parties, such as students, parents and teachers.
3. Use multiple approaches. Implement primary, secondary and tertiary approaches.
4. Emphasize positive behavior support. Give the most attention for the right behavior, strive for a 4:1 positive to punitive comment ratio.
5. Use brief, clearly defined universal rules. The more complicated the list, the more difficult to maintain.
6. Teach expected behaviors directly. Give direct instruction in appropriate social behavior.
7. Provide consistent corrective feedback. Maintain consistency with consequences.
8. Provide extra support for staff. Without their support, an intervention will surely fail.

B.E.S.T. Practices: Building Effective Schools Together

B.E.S.T. provides a training program that aids schools in improving classwide and schoolwide discipline. It is based on the Effective Behavioral Support Model (EBS) developed at the University of Oregon (IVDB. 2002). It is based on years of research and similar programs have been used and replicated in many school environments. All have been found to have significant positive results for schools that have participated.

The model aims to increase academic achievement in schools and decrease destructive behavior. It involves the entire school and surrounding community in tailoring a program that fits each particular school. It focuses on three aspects of school intervention: 1) primary, or preventing harm with all students, 2) secondary, or targeting at risk students, and 3) tertiary, or reducing harm with high-risk students.

The primary prevention aspect includes whole school reinforcements, social skills instruction, clear teaching of expectations, and effective classroom management. The secondary prevention includes self-management programs, intensive social skills training, and adult mentors. The tertiary prevention includes behavior management plans, parent training and collaboration and multiagency collaboration. Individual school needs are determined through all school surveys, and discipline referral, suspension and expulsion data.

B.E.S.T. incorporates all eight of the essential elements in effective violence prevention programs. They seek to develop a constituency of 80% of the staff before beginning to implement. They involve stakeholders in determining the schools needs. They use multiple approaches, including social skills instruction and reward systems. They emphasize positive behavior support. They emphasize the use of brief, clearly defined universal rules. They strive to teach expected behaviors directly. They provide consistent corrective feedback through surveys and data. Finally, they seek to provide extra support for staff.

Works Cited:

Harris, S., Petrie, G., and Willoughby, W. (2002). Bullying among ninth graders: An exploratory study. NASSP Bulletin, 86,(630), 3-14.

IVDB Programs. (2002). Getting Effective School Discipline Practices to Scale: B.E.S.T. Practices Staff Development.

Leinhardt, A.M., and Willert, H.J. (2002) Involving Stakeholders in Resolving School Violence. NASSP Bulletin, 86, (631), 32-43.

Mattaini, M. (2001). Constructing Cultures of Non-Violence: The Peace Power! Strategy. Education and Treatment of Children, 24, (4), 430-447.

Mayer, R.. (2001). Antisocial Behavior: Its Causes and Prevention Within Our Schools. Education and Treatment of Children, 24, (4), 414-429.

Metsler, C., Biglan, A., Rusby, J., and Sprague, J. (2001). Evaluation of a Comprehensive Behavior Management Program to Improve School-Wide Positive Behavior Support. Education and Treatment of Children, 24, (4), 448-479.

Sprague, J., Bernstein, L., Munkres, A., Golly, A., March, R. (1999). BEST Practices: Building Effective Schools Together. Participant Manual. The Institute on Violence and Destructive Behavior, University of Oregon. Eugene, Oregon.

Sprague, J., Walker, H., Golly, A., White, K., Myers, D., Shannon, T. (2001). Translating Research into Effective Practice: The Effects of a Universal Staff and Student Intervention on Indicators of Discipline and School Safety. Education and Treatment of Children, 24, (4), 495-511.

Thorton, T., Craft, C., Dahlberg, L., Lynch, B., Baer, K. (2000). Best Practices of Youth Violence Prevention: A Sourcebook for Community Action. Division of Violence Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, and
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Atlanta, Georgia.

Young, E., Autry, D., Lee, S., Messemer, J., Roach, P., Smit, J. (2002). Development of the Student Attitudes Toward School Safety Measures (SATSSM) Instrument. Journal of School Health, 72, (3), 107-114.

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