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New Jersey Positive Behavior Support in Schools

One of the most commonly reported challenges faced by school personnel is the presence of persistent behavior and discipline problems. The presence of discipline problems diverts valuable personnel resources from instruction and disrupts student learning. For students with disabilities, explicit teaching, school wide consistent application and recognition of school rules and behavioral expectations provide a key foundational support for inclusion in general education programs and settings. Additionally, lack of immediate, positive interventions, which can be provided individually or in small groups, may result in the escalation of student discipline problems and an increase in referrals to special education.

New Jersey Positive Behavior Support in Schools (PBSIS) is a data driven, tiered system of positive behavior support to address these challenges. Based on a national model of positive behavior support, the New Jersey Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs in collaboration with The Boggs Center, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School is providing training and technical assistance for developing and implementing the three tiered intervention approach of PBSIS to assist schools with building the capacity for inclusion of students with disabilities and challenging behavior within general education settings by creating school-wide positive learning environments for all students and specific interventions for students with more intensive needs.

The NJ PBSIS initiative uses a three tiered model of interventions known as school-wide positive behavior support (Sugai et al., 2005) and includes:

  • Tier 1: Universal Interventions that teach and reinforce a consistent set of behavioral expectations for all students, staff, and settings school-wide.
  • Tier 2: Secondary Interventions that provide small group and individual support for students with repeated behavior problems.
  • Tier 3: Individualized Interventions that provide assessment driven, individualized support plans for students with disabilities who have the most intensive needs.

Participation in the NJ PBSIS initiative is designed to result in 5 key outcomes:

  • Improvements in overall building climate
  • Reduction in office discipline referrals and suspensions for students school-wide
  • Reduction in the number of students who receive repeated office discipline referrals
  • Reduction in the number of students referred for special education services; and
  • Increase in the number of students with disabilities and challenging behaviors who are successful in general education settings

Collaborating school districts receive over 100 hours of training and technical assistance during the two years of their participation.

For more information, please visit the Positive Behavior Support in Schools website at

NJ PBSIS Project Director: Sharon Lohrmann, PhD
Training Team: Beth Custer, PhD, Scott McMahon, Michelle Mead, Karen Paulvin, Paula Raigoza, Gizem Tanol, PhD
Data & Program Coordinator: Stephanie Michael
Support Staff: Ann Marie McVay

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Robert Wood Johnson Medical School

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