Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is a framework backed by research to help schools improve student outcomes. PBIS doesn’t require walls, or doors, or even students physically seated in your classrooms. You need data, systems, and practices all working together so everyone feels successful as they learn. This school year, your school will modify its PBIS implementation to work with the changing ways students learn. Whether students engage in distance learning, they attend in-person, or find themselves rotating between the two, assessing your implementation is critical for PBIS to work for everyone.

This year, schools should prioritize taking two surveys: the Tiered Fidelity Inventory (TFI) and the School Climate Surveys (SCS). The TFI is the best survey you can take to assess your school’s fidelity of implementation. The SCS is an efficient set of surveys to check on the impact your implementation has on teachers, students, and families. Both surveys work regardless of your learning model. Here are our recommendations for collecting and entering these surveys in PBIS Assessment while your teams are remote.

The TFI Walkthrough

The TFI Walkthrough is a 15-minute round of interviews with students and teachers related to Tier 1 implementation. The answers collected during the interviews affect your score for a few questions on the TFI survey. So, do you have to do it while you’re engaged in distance learning?

We encourage you to give it a try. 

The Center on PBIS has an excellent practice brief to walk you through the logistics of a remote TFI Walkthrough. Some of the highlights include:
  • Select a random sample of students and teachers to participate. The more folks you invite, the less likely a couple of cancellations will affect your walkthrough response rates.
  • Coordinate your interview schedule to align with class schedules. Choosing times during synchronous sessions works great if you want to find existing times students and teachers are likely to be online.
  • Read through the interview questions and adjust them to accommodate your current context. For example, if your school is in a hybrid model, ask about both sets of expectations – the ones relevant to distance learning and the ones relevant to in-person situations.
  • Use your school’s online platforms like Zoom or Microsoft Teams to conduct the interviews. The Center’s brief offers specific step-by-step instructions for how to use breakout rooms during synchronous learning time as an efficient way to interview students and teachers during the same timeslot.
If conducting the walkthrough is too much to handle, that’s ok, too. However, to score a 2 on some questions, the walkthrough is required (specifically, questions 1.3, 1.4, and 1.9).

The TFI Survey

If you’re able to conduct the TFI in-person, great! Do that. If any part of your team is remote, conducting the TFI is still possible.

First, schedule a time with your team and your external coach. Find a time that works for everyone. Then, ask your PBIS Assessment Coordinator to open the survey for you in PBIS Assessment so it’s ready to go when you meet as a team. Make sure someone from your team is set up with access to your school’s PBIS Assessment account before your meeting. That person could be your external coach or a school-level member of your team.

Taking the TFI remotely works the same way it would if you were physically in the same room with each other. You’ll log in to your PBIS Assessment account, open the TFI menu on your dashboard, and click Take Survey. Instead of projecting the survey on a screen in a conference room, share your screen in your online meeting so everyone can see the survey as you take it. Team members can vote by holding up their scores on their screen, or you can use polls and chat to indicate scores. Once you submit the survey, the scores are available to view in PBIS Assessment in Reports.

The School Climate Surveys

The SCS is a set of four surveys to measure student, teacher, and family perceptions of school climate. With students engaged in distance learning, the SCS is maybe the one survey that benefits from all of the new, online ways schools reach students and families.

To conduct the SCS during distance learning, ask your PBIS Assessment Coordinator to open windows for students, families, and teachers to submit their respective surveys. Opening the window reveals a link for each survey. Have someone from your school team send teachers the link to the student survey asking them to add completing the survey as an assignment – either optional or required. As long as the link is included in the assignment and all students access it from their own device, PBIS Assessment records their responses individually. You can email families a link to their survey or send a paper copy through the mail. Emailing teachers the link to their survey might work best depending on your school’s context.

Survey Scoring

It’s likely the scores on this year’s TFI and SCS will be different from previous years. Scores on the TFI might be lower. Scores on the SCS might be higher in some places and lower in others. That’s ok. It’s less important to focus on the score and more important to consider how the information guides decision making. Your scores this year aren’t a reflection of your implementation in typical years. This year is anything but typical.

Your TFI score helps your team members know which core components of PBIS are implemented in your new learning model and which ones require attention. Questions requiring flexibility on the TFI include:
  • 1.1 – team membership may be in flux at the beginning of the year. If you’ve recruited additional representation, they may not be on the team just yet.
  • 1.2 – meeting procedures may be fine, but action plans may have been put on hold while teams focused on developing return-to-school guides for fall. They may be in the process of integrating the two plans. Ideally, teachers have access to one, integrated plan to help shift back and forth between learning models.
  • 1.3 – This question requires teams complete a TFI Walkthrough. For schools to score a “2,” they would need to have a teaching matrix that addresses all environments and actively and effectively communicate expectations to staff, such that 90% of staff can list at least 67% of expectations.
  • 1.4 – This question requires teams complete a TFI Walkthrough. Teachers are in the process of teaching expectations within the context of their new learning model. Be flexible here on how long it might take for teachers to teach all students in the learning models.
  • 1.5 – Adjustments may still be underway for redefining problem behaviors.
  • 1.6 – Documentation might still be in flux as you adjust in-person procedures to accommodate remote locations.
If you’re in a hybrid model, and one question would score a 2 for your in-person procedures and a 1 for your distance learning procedures, score the question a 1 overall.

Survey Timing

Typically, teams take the TFI every third or fourth meeting until they reach 70%, then they switch to taking it annually. Schools take the SCS once or twice during the year – the first administration happening within the first 45 days of the school year. 

This year, aim to take the TFI at least once in the fall. A second administration in the spring would be great. As for the SCS, you know your teachers, students, and families best. Conducting these surveys 45 days into the school year gives everyone time to adjust to the schedule and figure out what works for them and what doesn’t.


We know this school year is different. We see the ways you’re adapting to make your school work for everyone. School teams making decisions need to check in on your school’s PBIS systems and practices during distance learning. Fidelity data help teams address specific components so all students experience the year equitably. Our customer support and training teams are here to help you take advantage of the options available in PBIS Assessment that will work best for your school’s processes.