Teach By Design
Feb 13, 2024

Anatomy of a Framework Part 6: Schoolwide Community Involvement

Incorporating student, family, community, and faculty feedback in your PBIS implementation ensures your systems and practices reflect and support everyone in your building.

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Have you been following along with our sister-series on Expert Instruction? We've been busting some common PBIS myths and last month, we tackled the myth that there are no consequences in PBIS. It's a statement I've heard over an over again on social media, at conferences, and from some of you needing resources to share with skeptical colleagues.

I'll let you listen to the episode to make the final call, but consequences are absolutely a part of PBIS. One of the system-level foundational features relates to your school’s discipline policies, namely that they “emphasize proactive, instructive, and/or restorative approaches to student behavior that are implemented consistently.”1 The goal is to decrease the way you use punitive, exclusionary practices. So, here’s the question: If you looked in your district’s code of conduct, would you find an emphasis on evidence-based practices?

A group of researchers had a similar question.

In their study, they combed through 149 district-level codes of conduct on the hunt for the evidence-based practices found in the PBIS framework.2 They found these policies mentioned fewer than half the recommended PBIS framework elements. Only a third made an explicit commitment to equity. Just 8%of the policies said anything about analyzing discipline data in team meetings. Yet, every policy they reviewed included zero tolerance as a possible response to student behavior.

“These results align with previous research demonstrating that district policies have moved away from their positive and proactive foundational intent to more punitive and reactive practices that disproportionately target and harm students of color and students with disabilities.”

Remember: At the center of your PBIS implementation Venn diagram is equity.

Everything you do — every practice, every system, every data point — comes back to creating an inclusive school culture where everyone thrives. If this is a core value of PBIS, how do you know if parts of your implementation only work for some and not for all?

For one: Ask.

In that same code of conduct review, they found very few policies included reference to family and community partnerships.

  • 11% sought input from a range of families
  • 13% offered families an opportunity to develop, implement, review, and revise policies
  • 17% proactively invited collaboration to promote prosocial behavior

When you implement PBIS, you commit to giving your schoolwide community an opportunity to share their feedback about your implementation at least once a year. Maybe you collect feedback several times, but the TFI tells us when it comes PBIS, you need to check-in with everyone at least annually. Elevating the collective voices of your school promotes a sense of community, improves fidelity, strengthens your implementation, and makes everything you do more meaningful, relevant, and valued.3

The Tiered Fidelity Inventory (TFI) tells us there are not one, but two data-level features of your PBIS framework: Faculty Involvement and Student/Family/Community Involvement. If their involvement is a data-level feature, certainly there must be a way to collect those data…

Two Surveys, Loads of Data

There are two surveys created specifically for collecting student, family, and staff feedback about your PBIS implementation:

  • School Climate Survey (SCS):The SCS is a survey for students, school personnel, and families to share their perceptions of school climate. It’s a brief, valid, reliable way to get a better sense of how your school feels to each of these groups.
  • Feedback and Input Survey (FIS): The FIS is a survey for students, school personnel, and family members to share the way they experience your school’s behavior support systems. It’s a combination of yes/no questions as well as open fields for folks to add their specific feedback.

Both surveys give students, families, and staff a way to tell you about their experience with your PBIS implementation. The SCS is a more formal survey perfect for monitoring your progress over time. The FIS, on the other hand, is a great place to get more qualitative data, schoolwide perspectives in their own words. If you aren’t sure which one would work best for you, we’ve got a free webinar coming soon that will walk you through the benefits of each. Keep an eye on our upcoming trainings and sign up when it's posted. Spoiler alert, you might see it there early next week.

Whichever survey you choose, it’s important to think about how you’re going to ask folks to give their feedback, how you’ll receive it, and what you’ll do with it once you have it. Research and experience have some tips for you to consider as you build in student, family, community, and faculty involvement in your PBIS implementation.4,5

Start With a Plan

The goal for getting feedback is to be proactive, not reactive. Take a look at your school’s calendar and make a plan for when you’ll ask everyone to take these surveys. In our experience, survey fatigue is real. Here are a few things to consider as far as timing:

  • Schedule this feedback for a time when there aren’t other surveys happening in your school.
  • Early spring is a time when we see an uptick in SCS and FIS surveys submitted in PBIS Assessment. Right around now is a good spot in the year for feedback.
  • Choose either the SCS or the FIS. We don’t recommend asking folks to take both at the exact same time.
  • If you want to administer both surveys, schedule them at different points in the school year — one in the fall and one in the spring.

Call It What It Is

It might seem obvious, but when you’re trying to get feedback from someone, it’s important to call it “feedback.” Maybe you plan to solicit input at an upcoming PTO meeting. When you invite families to attend, don’t say there will be time for discussion; let them know you’re looking to collect their feedback about that agenda item. By specifically naming what you want, everyone knows it’s their opportunity to share their perspectives, opinions, and reactions to the discussion item.

Try on Someone Else’s Shoes

Every piece of feedback you receive is unique to the person who gives it. It reflects their experiences in their context. As you review the data, be sure to look at the way they break out across demographic groups in your school.

  • Do all grade levels experience our implementation the same way?
  • How do our Black students perceive school climate compared to our White students?
  • Who’s missing from our data? Are there people in our schoolwide community who didn’t participate in the survey?

Disaggregating your data gives you an opportunity to consider your implementation’s impact on specific groups and start asking deeper questions about which systems and practices might work from some, but not for all.

Sit First, Then Discuss

When I see data, my mind immediately jumps to action. Who’s going to do what by when? While that might be your inclination, too, it’s better to review the data and then let the information simmer for a minute. Feedback can be emotional to hear. Use the time to process your own reaction. Then, when it’s time to make decisions and implement a plan, you can do it from a more objective place.

How long you wait is up to you. Maybe you review the data, take a short break, then come back and talk about action items. Maybe you need to sleep on it. Decide as a team how long you need to let the feedback sink in and then…

Align Your Actions

It’s time to decide what you’re going to do with these data. Where do you start? How about with the places where the feedback overlaps with your team’s goals for the year?

At the beginning of the year, your team identified a goal and created an action plan to achieve it. Pull out that action plan and look for the items you said were ahigh priority to achieve. Now look at your survey data.

  • What do your action plan and the feedback you collected have in common?
  • Where do they differ from each other?
  • How can you incorporate the feedback you received into the actions you planned to take?

Invite Conversation

It’s important to share the survey results with the people who took it and follow-up with next steps. In fact, the items on the TFI dealing with student/family and faculty involvement require it. Let them know what you observed and how you’re incorporating their feedback into your action plan. If the results made you curious to know more, say so and invite them to participate in a deeper discussion. True feedback isn’t one-directional. It should be a conversation where everyone has an opportunity to share, to listen, and to decide how to move forward. Step forward with courage, schedule the meeting, and proactively engage with your community.

For your PBIS implementation to reflect the cultures and values represented in your school, you need to involve your staff, your students, their families, and community along the way. Their perspectives are fundamental to this framework. There are lots of ways you can solicit their feedback. One way is through surveys, specifically the FIS and the SCS. Deciding which survey to take is one step in the process. How you’ll incorporate their feedback into your action plan and include these groups in solutions moving forward are equally critical to creating a school where everyone feels supported and seen.

1. Algozzine,B., Barrett, S., Eber, L., George, H., Horner, R., Lewis, T., Putnam, B.,Swain-Bradway, J., McIntosh, K., & Sugai, G. (2019). School-wide PBIS TieredFidelity Inventory. OSEP Technical Assistance Center on Positive BehavioralInterventions and Supports. www.pbis.org.
2. Green,A. L., Hatton, H., Stegenga, S. M., Eliason, B., & Nese, R. N. (2021).Examining commitment to prevention, equity, and meaningful engagement: A reviewof school district discipline policies. Journal of Positive BehaviorInterventions23(3), 137-148.
3. Freeman,J., Robbie, K., Simonsen, B., Barrett, S., & Goodman, S. (January 2021).Integrated TFI Companion Guide. Eugene, OR: Center on PBIS, University ofOregon. www.pbis.org.
4. vander Leeuw, R. M., & Slootweg, I. A. (2013). Twelve tips for making the bestuse of feedback. Medical teacher35(5), 348-351.
5. Jug,R., Jiang, X. S., & Bean, S. M. (2019). Giving and receiving effectivefeedback: A review article and how-to guide. Archives of pathology& laboratory medicine143(2), 244-250.

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Megan Cave


Megan Cave

Megan Cave is a member of the PBISApps Marketing and Communication team. She is the writer behind the user manuals, scripted video tutorials, and news articles for PBISApps. She also writes a monthly article for Teach by Design and contributes to its accompanying Expert Instruction podcast episode. Megan has completed four half marathons – three of which happened unintentionally – and in all likelihood, will run another in the future.

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