Universal Supports for All Students (TIER 1): Tier 1 interventions apply to ALL students with in a class, school, and school district.  They tend to be more generalized interventions that most kids respond to, like classroom and school expectations, rules, routines, and consequences. For example, each classroom in a school going over and practicing hallway routines and procedures in the morning would be a Tier 1 intervention.  Showing a video  about respectful behavior in the Cafeteria and then having a class discussion about expected and unexpected behavior in the Cafeteria would also be an example of a Tier 1 intervention.


Schools that implement school-wide systems of positive behavior support focus on taking a team-based system approach and teaching expected behavior to all students in the school. Schools that have been successful in building school-wide systems develop procedures to accomplish the following:

1. Behavioral Expectations are Defined.   A small number of clearly defined behavioral expectations are defined and posted in all areas of every school.  In all Cumberland Schools, students are taught and encouraged to be:

  • Respectful
  • Responsible
  • Ready to Learn/Succeed

2. Behavioral Expectations are Taught and Re-Taught. The behavioral expectations are taught to all students in the building, and are taught in real contexts. Teaching appropriate behavior involves much more than simply telling students what behaviors they should avoid. Specific behavioral expectations should be defined and taught in all areas.  A few examples are listed below:

  • Respectful in the Classroom means following directions and listening to the speaker.
  • Responsible in the Cafeteria means cleaning up after yourself.
  • Ready to learn/succeed means being on time and coming to class prepared and with all the required materials.

Behavioral expectations are taught using the same teaching formats applied to other curriculum. The general rule is presented, the rationale for the rule is discussed, positive examples (“right way”) are described and rehearsed, and negative examples (“wrong way”) are described and modeled. Students are given an opportunity to practice the “right way” until they demonstrate fluent performance.  Over time we evaluate the success and adjust/re-teach for efficiency.  

3. Expected Behaviors are Acknowledged. Once expected behaviors have been defined and taught, they need to be acknowledged on a regular basis.  Adults will give positive praise and encouragement and emphasize student’s strengths and positive traits utilizing the clinically supported ratio of 8 positive to 1 correction.

Each school in Cumberland has designed a formal system for acknowledging and encouraging positive behaviors.  Through the use of a token economy system, all adults will encourage and acknowledge students for demonstrating the Traits of being Respectful, Responsible and Ready to Learn/Succeed.  Every adult (teachers, administrators, paraprofessionals, substitutes, volunteers…) within a building will have access to the school-wide acknowledgment tokens (Paws, Jaguars, Stars, Owls, Fins, Starbucks, Clipper Cash…).  The use of acknowledgments can be done in many ways: Verbal recognition/praise, visual recognition (smile, thumbs up, high five), or tangible acknowledgments (token system developed in each school).


Research has shown that using a variety of acknowledgments will have the strongest impact on improving expected behavior. 

  • “To learn, humans require regular & frequent feedback on their actions.”
  • “In the absence of formal feedback to encourage desired behavior, other forms of feedback shape undesired behaviors.”
  • “PBIS research teams have conducted a series of reviews and analysis of (the reward) literature; their conclusion is that there is no inherent negative property of reward.” 

Each staff member will be given the school “acknowledgement tokens/tickets” to distribute. These tickets will be handed out to students who are “caught” doing the right thing.  When a teacher sees a student following or going above and beyond the school’s expectations, he/she can hand a student a ticket and specifically identify the expectation that was demonstrated.  Acknowledgements should be used to encourage and reinforce positive behaviors demonstrated on a consistent basis.



To effectively improve the culture, climate, safety, and learning within a school setting, all adults should give out acknowledgments on a regular basis.  The expectation is that all adults will give out at least 1 acknowledgment per period or at least 7 per day.  In order to truly see the benefits within an individualized classroom, it recommended that adults give out 3-5 acknowledgment per period. 

Each school in Cumberland has designed a formal system for redeeming acknowledgments throughout the school year.  Examples are listed below:

  • School-wide raffles (Rock Star parking, gift cards)
  • School store (individualized acknowledgments)
  • Class/team earned acknowledgments
  • School-wide acknowledgments (music at lunch)
  • School-wide assemblies
  • No homework day(s)


4. Behavioral Errors are Corrected Proactively. When students violate behavioral expectations, clear procedures are needed for providing information to them that their behavior was unacceptable, and preventing that unacceptable behavior from resulting in inadvertent rewards. Students, teachers, and administrators all should be able to predict what will occur when behavioral errors are identified.  Behavior Incident Reports (BIRs) are used to document and record Minor incidents managed by the teacher in the classroom and are also used to refer Major incidents or chronic disruptions to the administration.  The SWIS Behavior Definitions are used to help teachers distinguish between Minor (Classroom Managed) behavioral incidents from Major (Office Managed) behavioral incidents.  The Flowchart for Managing Unexpected Behaviors is used to help adults identify basic procedures for responding to unexpected behaviors.

5. Decisions About Behavior Management are Data Based.  One of the most important features of PBIS is the use of the web-based data management system called SWIS.  The SWIS database tracks what types of discipline incidents are occurring, where, what time of the school day and who is involved in them.  SWIS eliminates guesswork from the decision making process about what is and is not working in a building’s behavior management system.  It allows decision makers to create reports that enable them to devote resources and time to the precise place, parts of the school day and people that need them.  By tracking school-wide and individual behavior incidents, teams are able to quickly use data for decision making and provide meaningful intervention to the whole school, targeted groups of students, or individualized students.  Being able to identify trends and patterns allows for early pro-active and preventative intervention with in a specific school.



6. Ongoing Family Communication.  As the Universal Systems become a common routine for all adults and are implemented with consistency across a school, we will work to share efforts around behavior success with all of the families of our students.  Regular communication regarding Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports with in our schools will be shared with families.  Schools will share information such as: school-wide acknowledgments, data trends in regards to behavior incidents, and opportunities for parental information nights on PBIS.  The expectation is that schools will connect with families at least 3-4 times per year.  Many schools are choosing to communicate more often.  The following are examples of ways our schools have communicated PBIS information: back to school nights, PTO meetings, afterschool presentations, principal’s coffee hour, PBIS brochures, surveys, informational letters with report cards, update in the school-wide newsletters, and email blasts.


7.  Ongoing Professional Development and Classroom Management.  One of the most important universal systems needed for new and experienced adults working in the Cumberland School Department is professional development in the area of Classroom Management.  With the support of the district administration, Universal Teams will work to provide ongoing, embedded professional development to all adults in the district who work directly with students.  Efforts so far have included: training to teachers at faculty meetings, professional development opportunities on scheduled district PD days, and individual and team trainings based on specific/individual needs.  As we move forward with trainings we hope to meet regularly with all staff and adults, including bus drivers, lunch monitors, substitutes, and volunteers.