Graduate Program

School Psychology

Degree Name

Specialist in School Psychology

Semester of Degree Completion

Spring 2022

Thesis Director

Assege HaileMariam

Thesis Committee Member

Caridad F. Brito

Thesis Committee Member

Hao-Jan Luh


Behavioral management is a top priority in the educational setting. Historically, schools have implemented a variety of different methods to manage behaviors in schools. One of these methods is punitive punishment, which has led to the school-to-prison pipeline phenomena. The school-to-prison pipeline is a practice in the U.S. public schools that removes students with behavioral issues from educational institutions often resulting in placement in juvenile and criminal justice systems. Through zero tolerance and other punitive disciplinary policies, many youths find themselves dropping out or being expelled from school and eventually in juvenile detention centers and prisons. Research evidence shows that minority students, students with disabilities, and students who live in urban areas are more at risk of falling victim to the schoolto-prison pipeline. To address challenging student behaviors that contribute to the school-toprison pipeline phenomenon, most schools have adopted Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), an evidence-based prevention and intervention framework. The main purposes of the current study are to assess school staff perceptions of PBIS implementation for addressing challenging student behaviors, and factors that contribute to PBIS outcomes, such as staff buy-in and training. A total of 439 school personnel from school districts in Illinois participated in the study. Over 60% of participants showed support for PBIS, 72% reported they had received training for PBIS implementation and found it useful, and over 70% indicated their school climate, in terms of resources, support and communication, was adequate to support PBIS. Overall, there was support for PBIS. However, inconsistent data reporting and the COVID-19 pandemic constrained the current study. The implications and limitations of the study and future directions are discussed.