Immediate Influence

Positive behavior supports

Parent construct: Effective Schools

The school environment has a very strong influence on the health, relationships, and academic success of students (Jia et al., 2009; Rowe & Stewart, 2009). Negative school environments include violence, bullying, limited academic and extracurricular activities, unfair discipline practices, and inadequate books, supplies, and other resources. Positive school environments are characterized by caring and supportive relationships among teachers and students, use of effective and collaborative teaching strategies, teacher commitment to student wellbeing, and parent involvement (Bowen & Bowen, 1999; Rumberger, 1995). Positive school environments help students feel connected to school, which is highly linked to academic achievement. Students who feel connected to school earn better grades, attend school more frequently, and are less likely to drop out compared to students who do not feel connected to school. A positive school environment and school connectedness also prevents adolescent risky behaviors, like alcohol and drug use, violence and gang involvement, and sexual risk-taking and is linked with fewer emotional problems (Batisch & Hom, 1997; McNeely, Nonnemaker, & Blum, 2001; Resnick et al., 1997; Whitlock, 2006; http://www.cdc.gov/ Healthy Youth/AdolescentHealth/ connectedness.htm).

In recent years, thousands of schools around the world have adopted systems of schoolwide positive behavior support (Sugai & Horner, 2002, 2008). These systems positively manage student behavior and create good learning environments. The systems include (1) behavior and performance monitoring, (2) positive rewards and feedback for good behavior, (3) clear expectations, and (4) fair and consistent discipline and rules. These strategies encourage students to be responsible for their behavior and motivate students to follow school rules so that discipline problems do not occur (Rutter & Maughan, 2002; Sugai & Horner, 2002, 2008). Positive behavior management also makes students feel safe and connected at school, which is critical for academic success (McNeely, Nonnemaker, & Blum, 2002). Punitive strategies that rely on excessive discipline and focus only on correcting bad behaviors are counterproductive. They increase behavior problems, coercive interactions among adults, and academic failure (McEvoy & Welker, 2000; Skiba & Peterson, 1999, 2000).