At last week’s District 91 school board meeting, officials lauded the district’s success in taking an alternative approach to student discipline. 

Erin Dwyer, assistant principal at Field Stevenson Elementary, announced the progress that has been made since the 2008 implementation of the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) program throughout the district. Established by the Office of Special Education Programs, PBIS is an alternative, evidence-based framework for addressing students’ behavior – good and bad.

Dwyer has been integral in implementing the PBIS program and promoting it throughout the district; and her PowerPoint demonstration last week portrayed the program’s success.

Most striking were the figures she provided for Forest Park Middle School.

From the ’07-’08 school year up to the current one, the number of student trips to the principal’s office for disciplinary action decreased from 721 to 355.

What’s more, Dwyer calculated that the reduction in time spent disciplining students amounted to seven school days.

“We’re teaching students who don’t know what is expected of them,” Dwyer said.

“You see it’s working,” she said.

“It can only improve from here,” said School Board President Frank Mott.

“When I visit now I have to track her down because she’s in class,” said Supt. Dr. Louis Cavallo. Prior to that, Dwyer was almost always in the principal’s office addressing misbehaving kids, Cavallo noted.

PBIS uses a three-tiered data system to address students’ behavioral needs. At Tier 1, there are classroom-wide systems in place for the low-risk students. Tier 2 kids receive more specialized attention when a behavioral issue is detected. And, at Tier 3, schools seek out the assistance of parents and community members to help solve problems.

Cavallo also announced the district’s plans to utilize the Measures of Academic
Progress (MAP) plan as a periodic benchmark assessment of students’ progress in various academic areas.