Getting Started

The training and implementation of PBIS follows the research of the National Implementation Research Network for the scaling up of evidence based practices. Dean Fixsen and Karen Blasé have identified stages of implementation for implementing and sustaining initiatives.

To begin, review implementation information on systems change:

Stage 1: Purpose Building

(SAMHSA Exploration Stage)

The goal of the purpose building or exploration stage is to select the right evidence-based program. In this stage, your school or district will strive to identify the best program fit, which is the match between needs and resources and characteristics of the program.

As your district/school is considering PBIS, the following actions should be taken.

(Throughout this process, your Wisconsin PBIS Network Regional Technical Assistance Coordinator is available to provide information about PBIS, purpose building activities, infrastructure activities, and to answer questions about other implementation related questions. Here is a link to find the PBIS Coordinator in your region).

  1. Watch the This Is PBIS Module explaining the PBIS framework and giving general information about PBIS. Other videos that may be helpful:
  2. Review research regarding the evidence base of PBIS
  3. Talk to and/or visit other schools that are implementing PBIS (Schools at Fidelity)
  4. Attend an administrative overview through the Wisconsin PBIS Network (events calendar)
  5. Review your current school and district data to determine if PBIS fits the needs and goals of your school
  6. Assess your district/school's capacity and commitment to PBIS.
    1. Discuss the availability of resources for PBIS at district and building leadership team meetings. Information regarding time and finanacial commitments can be found here:
    2. Determine the funding source for training, personnel time, and other expected expenses for a minimum of 3-5 years.
  7. Present PBIS to your school staff and get feedback to assess buy-in to determine your ability to implement PBIS in your school. A sample PowerPoint presentation with speaker notes can be downloaded. Your Wisconsin PBIS Network regional technical assistance coordinator can assist with selecting strategies to assess staff buy in.


Stage 2: Infrastructure

(SAMHSA Installation Stage)

The infrastructure or installation stage refers to making the structural and instrumental changes necessary to implement the program within an organization. As your school prepares to build the infrastructure to support the implementation of PBIS, the following steps should be completed:

  1. A PBIS leadership team (generally 6-8 members) is formed and has broad representation, including a building administrator, general education teachers, special education teachers, social worker and/or school psychologist, specials teachers, paraprofessionals, and family members
  2. The school PBIS team commits to meet monthly, at minimum, to analyze school-wide behavioral and academic data and use this data in the problem-solving process
  3. Identify internal and external coaches to support the implementation process. Information about coaches can be found here.
  4. The school identifies who the district's PBIS Assessment local coordinator is and how to contact them. If the district does not have a local coordinator, a district-level local coordinator is identified and submit the name and email address to Melissa Marks at the Wisconsin PBIS Network.
  5. The school staff complete the Self-Assessment Survey on the PBIS Assessment website
  6. The school identifies a data system that will allow for office discipline referral (ODR) data to be graphed in, at minimum, the following ways and disaggregated by disability and race: 
    1. ODRs per day per month
    2. ODRs by location
    3. ODRs by behavior
    4. ODRs by time
    5. ODRs by student
  7. The school contacts a Wisconsin PBIS Network regional technical assistance coordinator for additional assistance with installation stage activities and to schedule or register for training. School readiness documents are completed and submitted to the regional technical assistance coordinator.
  8. The school leadership team, including school administrator, attends training.


Stage 3: Initial Implementation

(SAMHSA Initial Implementation Stage)

During the initial implementation stage, individuals begin to put into practice all that has been planned for during exploration and installation. Practitioners and staff will be changing their behavior, using new skills for the first time, and incorporating new practices into their everyday routine. This stage is often awkward because people are now expected to perform new skills and engage in new processes, which may lead them to perform in an uncoordinated or hesitant fashion. Practicing and implementing new skills with fidelity will take time.


Stage 4: Full Implementation

(SAMHSA Full Implementation Stage)

Full implementation occurs when the program is integrated into the school and district systems. The processes and procedures to provide PBIS are now in place. For example, staffing is complete, caseloads are full, services are being more skillfully provided by staff, and funding streams are in place. It now becomes important to maintain and improve the program through excellent monitoring and purposeful improvement to avoid entering program drift (that is edging toward a lack of fidelity). PBIS is ready to be evaluated, with a focus on assessing program fidelity. Fidelity measures, such as the Team Implementation Checklist, Self-Assessment Survey, and Benchmarks of Quality are used at this point to determine if the program is being delivered as intended. Additional information on these fidelity tools can be found here.

After PBIS has been implemented with fidelity, modifications may be considered to help produce better outcomes. For example, if fidelity is high but outcomes are not as expected, this may require program adaptation, an adjustment to PBIS to fit the local school environment and needs. All adaptations should be carried out carefully and systematically and with attention to both implementation and outcome evaluations. Implementation evaluations determine if PBIS has been implemented as intended. The same fidelity measures mentioned above can be used for implementation evaluations. Outcome evaluation refers to reviewing the results to determine if the program is working. Implementing PBIS with fidelity is likely to impact school climate, office discipline referrals, suspensions and expulsions, and ultimately academic performance.


Stage 5: Sustainability

(SAMHSA Program Sustainability Stage)

Sustainability is only possible when full implementation has been achieved. Sustaining change can be difficult. PBIS is not frozen in time and must adapt continually to changes in the community, funding streams, and organizational priorities. Organizational culture, leadership, and staff need to be nurtured and maintained. The involvement of high-level administrators in a continuous feedback loop with the PBIS team, staff, families, communities, and students is critical. At this stage, schools should continue to utilize fidelity tools and review outcome data to evaluate the implementation and outcomes of PBIS implementation. This will facilitate assessing the effectiveness and quality of PBIS in the school.

Most importantly, sustainability can and should be planned for early in the implementation process and examined at each stage.


5 Stages to Implementation

Stage 1: Purpose Building (Exploration)

The goal of the purpose building stage is to select the right evidence-based program.

Step 2: Infrastructure (Installation)

Infrastructure refers to making the structural and instrumental changes necessary to implement PBIS within a school.

Step 3: Initial Implementation

During the initial implementation stage, individuals begin to put into practice all that has been planned for during exploration and installation.

Step 4: Full Implementation

Full Implementation occurs when PBIS is integrated into the school and district systems.

Step 5: Sustainability

Sustainability can and should be planned for early in the implementation process and examined at each stage.