Design II Showcase

Goal Area: Safe and Supportive Schools

Formal measures to make all schools safe and supportive learning environments—a Design II strategic priority—began five years ago at six pilot schools. Peter S. Ogden Elementary School was one of the early adopters of Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports and Response to Intervention strategies.

“While it took a lot of energy and dedication, the Ogden staff began to understand the positive effect these strategies can have on a school culture,” said Sally Charuhas, executive director of special services.

April Whipple, principal, and Teresa Vance, school psychologist and PBIS coach, presented on Ogden’s programs and the outcomes of their efforts.

RtI and PBIS are school-wide, three-tiered prevention frameworks to improve student learning and reduce behavior problems. RtI and PBIS combine academic and behavior supports to create safe and compassionate learning experiences for all students.

“The goal is to create a learning environment that is positive, inclusive and accepting,” said Whipple. “On the academic side, we screen all students to identify those who are below grade-level standard. We provide evidence-based interventions, and then adjust those interventions based on student learning. The communication that occurs in our Professional Learning Communities is essential to our success.”

Teresa Vance explained how the staff at Ogden provides behavior support. “PBIS is a philosophy about how we treat each other, how we interact with our students and the expectations we have for how students treat one another,” said Vance. “Students are taught how to be safe and respectful, and three times a year they participate in an expectations fair. Students who demonstrate expected behavior are acknowledged in a variety of ways and on a frequent basis.”

The staff at Ogden also provides core emotional and behavioral instruction, including bullying prevention. All students are taught to recognize bullying and be part of the solution. As a result, school-wide data shows a decrease in bullying reports and bullying behavior over the past three years.

“In order for RtI to be effective, sustainable and promote student academic and behavioral success, collaboration between staff, students, parents and the community is essential. I am very proud to be part of a team where everyone works very hard and is dedicated to the improvement of RtI in our building. We have seen the positive impact it has on our students and the culture of our school,” said Vance.