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May 23, 2017




Positive Behavioral Expectations


A core component of the School-wide PBIS (SWPBIS) is positive behavioral expectations. Positive behavioral expectations are guidelines and routines that are taught in order to encourage appropriate behavior and prevent inappropriate behavior. A school's behavioral expectations form the building blocks for a positive school environment that is conducive to academic achievement. 

Generally, research indicates that schools should utilize  3 to 5  behavioral expectations that are positively stated and posted throughout the school. These expectations should be clear and general enough to apply to all school settings (e.g. classroom, hallways, playgrounds).


Examples of Positive Behavioral Expectations:

Respect Yourself and Others

Respect Learning

Respect the Environment  



Be Safe

Be Responsible

Be Respectful                                                                


The 3-5 core behavioral expectations will be used to develop individual expectations for each school setting that is placed in a behavior matrix.


Sample Matrix

Sample PBIS Matrix



Behavioral expectations should be taught and reinforced. The instruction should include modeling, explicit directions, rehearsal, opportunities for practice, feedback and reinforcement.  Expectations specific to different settings should be taught within that environment. For example, cafeteria expectations should be taught in the cafeteria. Visit our Teaching School-wide Behavioral Expectations page for more information.


It is the responsibility of staff to define, teach, remind, celebrate and correct student behavior as related to the defined expectations. Pairing explicit instruction with consistent reinforcement is a more effective and positive approach to creating an atmosphere where appropriate social behavior becomes an established norm.  Research has found that inconsistent responses to inappropriate behaviors and an over reliance on punishment does not generally result in a decrease of the inappropriate behavior.


Positive behavioral expectations support competence and academic achievement by providing an model of what appropriate behavior looks like in the school environment. Repeated engagement in the demonstration of  appropriate behavior helps to support social competence and allows students to achieve academically.




Sugai, G. & Horner, R. (2002). The evolution of discipline practices: School-wide positive behavior supports. Child & Family

             Behavior Therapy, 24 (1/2), 23-50.


Sugai, G. R. (2008). What We Know and Need to Know about Preventing Problem Behavior in Schools. Exceptionality: A

             Special Education Journal, Volume 16, No. 2 , 67-77.






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