Over the last four years, PUC Lakeview Charter High School has worked on implementing Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) in order to improve school culture. By placing an active focus on incentivizing positive behavior and building positive teacher-student relationships, our goal is to reduce the number of negative behavior issues and increase the positivity of the school climate. The implementation of this program ties closely with our LCAP goals (14-16).
One of the goals with the PBIS model is to increase the focus of teacher development toward their approach to student discipline. We want teachers to move away from punitive consequences and focus on building positive relationships with students. We want teachers to collaborate with one another and share best practices relating to specific students. We want to include our parents to have them be partners in our work of educating the whole child. In short, we thought that by placing the focus on improving the culture and behavior, we could aim to increase academic success.
LCHS adopted the PBIS model in order to address the number of both minor and major behavioral issues that were evident by the numbers of office referrals and suspensions. Students that were referred out or suspended were missing valuable class time, causing them to fall further behind in their academics. As evidenced by the table below, we’ve seen positive change in the numbers over the last four years.[table “4” not found /]
Additionally, teacher turnover was an issue for the school. Teachers expressly linked feeling “burnt out” and having to deal with the behavior problems in the classroom. At the start of the 2015-2016 school year, only 58% LCHS teachers were returning teachers. The school knew that in order to increase academic achievement, we needed to keep our effective teachers, therefore shifting the culture was crucial starting point. As of the 2018-2019 school year, LCHS has been able to keep 79% of teachers.
To begin the shift towards a more positive school culture, LCHS implemented a number of strategies related to the PBIS model. We started by outlining what our vision of what positive school culture looked like during our professional development days. We then invited parents to give feedback at our monthly Parent Leader Meetings. This led to the creation of the PRIDE matrix, which identified the five characteristics that we wanted all of our students to embody. We agreed that we wanted all students to be prepared, to be respectful, to have integrity, to be determined, and to strive for excellence. Along with creating visuals that were placed in all the hallways and classrooms, and printing it on all student agendas, teachers also created character building lessons to be taught in their advisory classes. Grade-level teams collaborated on lessons, which included teacher created videos around what it meant to exhibit these key attributes. The lessons were then disseminated throughout the school year in advisory. We then made it a point to focus on and reward students whenever they displayed these characteristics. Instead of pointing out the things students were doing wrong, we made a conscious effort to point out those who were doing right.
Leveraging student leaders to help build a positive culture was also a key component in shifting the school culture. The Associated Student Body (ASB) was asked to implement monthly school wide assemblies called Lion Celebrations. These celebrations incorporate the entire student body and staff by celebrating specific students and staff each time. These celebrations were largely student lead and meant to be a fun and active space for students to show their school spirit. We also began to recognize students at these assemblies who were not only doing well academically, but that had also exhibited attributes of the PRIDE matrix.
In order to support the development of all staff in the implementation of PBIS, we administered monthly professional development specifically geared towards building positive student relationships and leveraging these when dealing with negative behavior. Additionally, we had teachers meet in grade levels groups to review best practices with specific students. Our theory was that by educating everyone on specific strategies they could use, we would then have a more positive and holistic approach that was less punitive and more restorative.
Specific strategies included providing teachers the opportunity to role-play common issues and practice using more positive strategies. Our goal was to reinforce school wide desired traits on the Pride Matrix by providing an increasingly positive approach to discipline. Our theory is that students would then feel more connected to their teachers and the school which would improve student achievement. When looking at the student populations that had historically suffered due to behavior, our goal was to have a positive effect on the student populations that had historically suffered due to behavior and would lead to them missing less class and therefore leading to an increase in achievement.
By analyzing specific populations of need, teachers were able to identify and address students who were struggling behaviorally, academically, or simply chronically absent. Teachers would plan a Family Success Team meeting (FST) and meet with these students and families in order to provide increased support. The focus of these meeting was to always come from a place of wanting to provide the necessary help in order to get the student on track.
The implementation of the PBIS model has allowed LCHS to shift the school culture in a positive way. This has been evident by the massive decline in office referrals. Since 2015 we have seen a substantial decrease from 657 to 150 yearly referrals. This points to having both less minor behavioral incidents and less incidents of teachers asking for support with discipline. In turn, this has allowed students to remain in class and not lose out on valuable instructional time.
Teacher retention rates have also jumped from just 58% in 2015-2016 to 79% for the 2018-2019 school year. This supports the claim that teachers are feeling less burned out by discipline and are wanting to stay at LCHS. In turn, having teachers return has allowed us to solidify many of the structures that have been put in place with PBIS, and teachers are not having to spend as much time catching new teachers up on school- wide norms. As a result, our scores on the SBAC have increased significantly over the last three years. Our scores in ELA rose significantly from 54% proficient in 2016 to 70% in 2017 and 69% in 2018. Math scores have gone from 26% proficient in 2016 to 35% in 2017 and 42% in 2018.
Additionally, our suspensions have dropped from 15 in 2016-2017 to 4 last year, to having none this year as of February. The overall shift in culture allows students to feel more welcomed at school, and thus less likely to commit serious offenses. As students of concern begin to show signs of needing intervention, our teachers are able to step in and utilize their FST approach to provide the student and families supports.
With student leadership taking more of a role, we have seen an increase in positive student energy as evident by both the participation at assemblies and by attendance to school-wide events. Four years ago we were on the brink of cancelling one of our winter formals due to only selling tickets to about 10% of the student population. Our 2019 winter formal sold out as nearly 50% of the student body was in attendance.
Moving forward, we will continue to build on the successes of the PBIS model. In the next phase we plan to do more work with involving our parents in the educational process. We want to increase the attendance at our family nights and have our parents be our partners in the work. Additionally, we want to strengthen our student involvement by looking at student attendance data through a program called 5-star Students. This would allow us the ability to track student involvement down to the individual student, incentivize it through a rewards system, and survey students on their specific wants and needs.