School-wide Positive Behavior Support and Response to Intervention: System Similarities, Distinctions, and Research to Date at the Universal Level of Support

  • Timothy J. LewisEmail author
  • Barbara S. Mitchell
  • D. Tichelle Bruntmeyer
  • George Sugai


Problem behavior is unfortunately a universal challenge in schools. While several evidence-based strategies are widely available to address problem behavior, educators continue to rely on ineffective strategies including exclusionary options and fail to build comprehensive school-wide systems necessary to truly realize effective intervention potential. A parallel challenge is to embed effective strategies at the first indication of risk to prevent problems from becoming chronic and intensive to the point specialized instruction is necessary. This chapter provides an overview of School-wide Positive Behavior Support (SW-PBS) within the context of building systems of early intervention/prevention that incorporate evidence-based practices and the potential of SW-PBS as a possible element of a social-behavioral response to intervention (RTI) framework that might allow for an improved special education evaluation process under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act category of seriously emotionally disturbed. The history and logic of SW-PBS, essential features, research to date, and implications for practice are discussed.


Problem Behavior Disruptive Behavior School Setting Behavioral Support Behavioral Challenge 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The preparation of this manuscript was supported in part by the Technical Assistance Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports and a grant from the Office of Special Education Programs, the US Department of Education (H326S980003). Opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the position of the US Department of Education, and such endorsements should not be inferred. For information about the Center, go to, or for information related to this manuscript, contact Tim Lewis at


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Timothy J. Lewis
    • 1
    Email author
  • Barbara S. Mitchell
    • 1
  • D. Tichelle Bruntmeyer
    • 1
  • George Sugai
    • 2
  1. 1.University of MissouriColumbiaUSA
  2. 2.University of ConnecticutStorrsUSA

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