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Next fall, District 202 will implement a Positive Behavior Support (PBS) program as part of the Response to Intervention federal mandate.
Last summer, 22 teachers, counselors and social workers participated in a workshop on the topic, facilitated by Loyola University Chicago. Since then the System of Supports Behavioral Team was formed and began work on a behavior support plan.
Assistant Superintendent Oscar Hawthorne told the District 202 School Board at their meeting on May 24 that the PBS plan identified the school-wide core beliefs of respect for self, for others and community and clearly defined expectations for all student settings.
Mr. Hawthorne presented the ETHS “expectation matrix,” which provides examples of positive behaviors that students will be expected to follow in a range of environments “from classroom to bathroom.”
Mr. Hawthorne also said that, in addition to identifying core values for behavior, the action plan would distinguish behaviors that should be managed by teachers (classroom-managed) and those that would require a dean’s involvement (office-managed) as well as a plan for recognizing positive student behavior.
An online discipline referral form will make the disciplinary process more efficient and will facilitate tracking of data, Mr. Hawthorne reported.
Gary Haller, team member and applied sciences and technology teacher, said the program would not only set expectations of students but would reward them as well.
“We want to catch all of the students doing the right thing all of the time,” added social worker Taya Kinzie.
Some rewards for students exhibiting good behavior will be in the form of Kit Cash that can be redeemed for school supplies or food items. Kit Cash can also be saved for bigger-ticket items such as preferred parking, the opportunity to pick the third-period song played over the speaker system or being a student guest announcer.
More long-term rewards will be in the form of iPod Shuffles, lunch with three friends and “an administrator of your choice” or gas cards. Students who maintain good behavior frequently and for lengthy periods of time can earn a yearbook, a prom bid or parties and celebrations.
“How does this roll out to all students evenly?” asked Board member Martha Burns.
Mr. Hawthorne said that in the August in-service workshop, teachers will learn more about PBS and will work on “how to facilitate a consistent message.”
“The concern for me is that this program not be patronizing,” said student representative Joel Michael-Schwartz. “What high-schoolers really want is respect. If [a program] is seen as patronizing, it’s going to be counterproductive.”
Mr. Michael-Schwartz also expressed some concern about the online referral system. He said that under the old system, a teacher who referred a student to the dean would give the student a form. “You knew you had the referral, Mr. Michael-Schwartz said. “I wonder how many referrals will get lost because it isn’t handed to the student.”
He further cautioned the administration to “make sure students are involved instead of just being on the receiving end.”
Mr. Hawthorne said that there would be parents and students on next year’s committee reviewing the system.
Board member Mark Metz said he anticipated that Kit Cash might be traded or even counterfeited.
“You’ve got to tie the ability to spend it to the student who received it,” he said.
Mr. Hawthorne acknowledged this was a concern and that the final proposal for the program would address these concerns.