Academic Gains

There is ample research supporting first, best instruction for all students is the most efficient and effective tool we have to address academic gains in our schools and student engagement is central to first, best instruction. There is a relationship between academic gains and time spent engaged on specific learning outcomes.

When teachers, principals and students spend time in reactive discipline it is at a loss of instructional time for ALL students. Reactive discipline, relying exclusively on punishment or other coersive systems, makes it more difficult to increase academic and instructional time.

PBIS schools using a school-wide systems approach to discipline where:

  1. a. 3-5 behavioral concepts are defined and taught the same as academic skills to all students, across all settings (including classroom and school-wide routines)

  2. b. Expected behaviors are systemically recognized and reinforced

  3. c. Consequences are fair and relevant, following behavioral science

  4. d. Student and school-wide behavioral data is used for progress monitoring and decision-making

    1. e. Changes are made to prevent predictable problems


Demonstrate decreases in student misbehaviors and increases in academic gains. From a prevention perspective, schools that decrease time spent on school-wide problem behavior will increase time spent on instruction and achieving important student outcomes. (Barrett & Scott, PBIS Newsletter Volume 3, Issue 4, September, 2006)

The following Cost Effectiveness Worksheet provided by Susan Barrett and Terrance Scott, University of Florida helps schools document time spent on disciplinary action in order to evaluate the cost effectiveness of their prevention efforts.

Step 1: Determine the average amount of time the student misses in academic instruction and the average amount of time the administrator spends on each office discipline referral. (for schools using SWIS, you can add this data in the extra info field for a more accurate average time spent on ODRís)

Step 2: Track total number of referrals (monthly or annually)

Step 3: Calculate your schoolís average time spent on referrals for the student, teacher and administrator

Step 4: Share the information in graph form, compare across years or months for all stakeholders. Use the graphs for future decision making, buy-in, sustainability and evaluation of the cost effectiveness in your PBIS prevention efforts.

Step 5: Use the same process to develop cost effectiveness across schools in your district, region, or state. (hint: divide minutes by 60 to get hours lost/divide again by 8 to get number of days lost

Step 6: Compare schoolwide and/or district increases in academic achievement as measured by statewide or other normed assessments

Cost Effectiveness Matrix for Instructional Minutes and Administrator Time  
Minor Referrals (teacher managed)
Major Referral (office managed)

Average instructional
minutes lost per referral

Average Teacher
minutes spent per referral

Average Student
Minutes per referral

Average Administrator
minutes per referral

15 minutes

10 Minutes

20 minutes

25 minutes

  1. 1. Number of referrals X average # of student instructional minutes lost per referral = number of instructional minutes lost for students

  2. 2. Number of referrals X average time spent by Teacher per referral = instructional minutes lost for the classroom

  1. 3. Number of referrals X average number of student instructional minutes lost per referral = number of instructional minutes lost for students

  2. 4. Number of referrals X average number of Administrator minutes per referral = number of Administrator minutes lost to discipline