Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Schoolwide positive behavior support (SWPBS) is proactive, systemic, school-wide intervention aimed at preventing problem behavior and promoting prosocial behavior (Warren et al., 2003). Successful SWPBS implementation relates to reduced office discipline referrals and increased scores on tests of academic achievement (Lassen, Steele, & Sailor, 2006). However, it is not clear how SWPBS relates to other indicators of student well-being (e.g., school climate, safety, relationships, prosocial behavior, and engagement in school). In order to achieve social justice in schools, multiple components of children's well-being must be promoted through proactive interventions (Prilleltensky, 2005), such as SWPBS. Because well-being as a whole encompasses many variables and individual, relational, and communal levels (Prilleltenksy, 2005), SWPBS's potential impact on well-being must be critically examined so that it can be augmented if necessary.

Moreover, implementing SWPBS requires systems change, which is challenging (e.g., Bohanon et al., 2006; Lassen et al., 2006). A few studies have examined implementers' perspectives as to what relates to the success or failure of SWPBS implementation (e.g., Flannery, Sugai, & Anderson, 2009; Kincaid et al., 2007), but no studies have sought to understand the perspectives of multiple groups of school stakeholders on the process of developing, implementing, and sustaining SWPBS in a school that has successfully sustained implementation.

The goals of this study are to assess the relationship between SWPBS and signs of student well-being beyond, but inclusive of engagement in discipline and academic achievement, and to understand the nuances of a school's successful implementation and sustainment of SWPBS. These goals were addressed through a case study of a junior high school in a suburb of a large city that had sustained SWPBS implementation for five years. Focus groups and interviews were conducted with school stakeholders and existing implementation fidelity, discipline, academic, and survey data were gathered.

Results indicated administrative support, communication, data, and their impact on buy-in were critical to successful SWPBS implementation. These factors, in addition to embedding SWPBS features, such as the expectations, into the school culture and creating a culture of culture of continuous improvement were critical the sustainability of SWPBS. Sustained SWPBS implementation related to a significant reduction in discipline referrals. The achievement gap as measured by the Illinois Standardized Achievement Test (ISAT) closed over the course of implementation, but this could be due to other factors. The relationship between SWPBS and other indicators of well-being were mixed, suggesting the school might consider augmenting SWPBS with a school-wide social-emotional curriculum. Future research might examine the impact of SWPBS and social-emotional curricula on indicators of well-being.

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