From the Desk of: Become a PBIS Model School

Attention: all schools in Year 3 or beyond of PBIS! The application window is now open for your school to receive recognition for your exemplary PBIS implementation.

The purpose of the CT PBIS Model Schools Project is to recognize schools for successfully implementing school-wide systems for Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports. Criteria for recognition are based on effective implementation of key features as outlined by the National Technical Assistance Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, and are consistent with the outcomes of Connecticut’s School-wide PBIS Training Series.

Learn more and apply here.
Applications are due by February 22, 2016.

In the Spotlight: Naylor CCSU Academy

Submitted by: Donna Merritt and Nicole Vitale

Naylor CCSU Academy began year three of its participation in CT’s SPDG by instituting a major infrastructure revision that has changed their multi-tiered system of supports/SRBI framework. Most notably, all K-4 teachers participate in weekly three-hour grade-level PLC meetings, called “Naylor U,” which are in addition to teachers’ personal prep time. These PLCs, sometimes referred to by staff as “Kid Talk,” are guided by Naylor’s Literacy Coach, who facilitates team professional dialogue via a structured data team process. All general education and special education teachers collaborate within Naylor U, including student support services professionals. Each PLC is unique, driven by student and teacher need and focused on academic progress (primarily literacy) and/or behavior.

Grade-level teams examine summative and formative data within their Naylor U PLCs and triangulate universal screening data as a first step. Based on these analyses, including teacher input, students are grouped for interventions depending on their common needs. Teachers are also learning an Analysis of Student Work protocol to support their dialogue and decision-making. Based on the data profiles of students at each grade, the teams created targeted Tier I supports.. This has resulted in changes to core instruction, including greater student engagement, as evidenced by administrator walkthroughs; less reliance on using basal readers for instruction; an increase in Guided Reading; and fewer referrals for special education evaluation.

Grade-level teams are also collaborating to design and deliver Tier II interventions based on student data. Naylor’s Literacy Coach is working with each team to contextualize the interventions to the needs of the students, CT Common Core standards, and teacher strengths. Tier III interventions are not as fully fleshed out yet, but are supported by a newly formed “Rapid Response Team” whose members monitor attendance data and systematically correlate it with academic outcome data.

Published: February 8, 2016

Voices from the Field: Paw Passes, Paw Bucks, and Positivity!

Submitted by: Nichelle Woodson and Tanya Fleeting, Administrators, Jumoke Academy

Here at Jumoke Academy at The Hartford Conservatory, we are diligently working to keep the “P” in PBIS! We have started two new incentive programs this year; Paw Bucks and Paw Passes. Paw Bucks are part of our system of recognition and feedback where scholars receive “bucks” when they demonstrate “Jag Swag,” the name given to our core values of Being Respectful, Being Responsible, and Being Safe. Paw Bucks are redeemable for various prizes and incentives by both scholars and staff members. The response to this system has been overwhelmingly positive! Scholars and staff members feel valued and appreciated because of the focus on positive behavior and hard work. At Jumoke Academy at The Hartford Conservatory, we know the importance of not only teaching positive behaviors and promoting quality effort by all community members, but also, recognize the necessity to acknowledge all who consistently and positively contribute to our school community.

Much of what is done in schools is informed by data. Our school leadership team is constantly analyzing our behavioral data. After looking at the data and in response to tremendous amount of unnecessary hallway and bathroom traffic, we decided to pilot a new incentive program called Paw Passes. With this structure, scholars are given a specified amount of passes a month that allows them to leave the classroom for a variety of reasons for a pre-determined amount of time each month; scholars with individual plans are given extra paw passes to accommodate their needs. Each individual pass is worth 5 Paw Bucks and passes that are not used can be redeemed at a monthly auction. The auction features tangible prizes, as well as, incentives such a “Principal for the Day,” private lunch with friends, and access to the Jag-Swag lounge. The lounge offers scholars a foosball table, a gaming system, music, and other appealing activities.

As we pilot these new incentive programs we expect to not only see a change in the amount of undesired behaviors, but also a change in scholar and staff morale. Authentically appreciating our scholars and staff allows for them to know they are respected and valued, which in turn will increase the likelihood they will invest more in their work. These are just two highlights showing how we are keeping the “P” in PBIS!

Published: January 11, 2016

In the Spotlight: Winthrop SPARKS Good Behavior

Submitted by Clare Wurm, Technical Assistance Provider

Winthrop is officially a Cohort Four school, but, as usual, they’re ahead of the curve. The leadership team was eager to begin their school-wide PBIS program and worked hard to roll it out months before the grant dictated. Their program is based on SPARKS — Self Control, Participation, Accountability, Respect, Kindness, Safety. The team was mindful about including the whole staff in the SPARKS rollout. Teachers, paraprofessionals, school staff and community partners who provide enrichment courses were included in the preparation and planning.

stairs with math facts printed on the risersClimbing the stairs at Winthrop provides opportunities for positive math behaviors!Tickets are given to students who exhibit positive behavior based on SPARKS. It is evident that teachers are using the recognition process. The adults we see wear rolls of tickets around their necks, or have a stack in their pocket, just waiting to be handed out. Students’ tickets go into a daily raffle. Winners can choose from toys, trinkets and coupons for special events, like lunch with the principal. The types of raffle prizes have changed based on feedback from students. Monthly town meetings are another opportunity to recognize positive behaviors.

Teachers report that behavior has improved since SPARKS was implemented, and they continue to monitor behavior by examining SWIS data. The leadership team is enthusiastic about SPARKS and is awaiting further training in order to incorporate Tier II and III systems of support.

Published: November 20, 2015

Voices from the Field: Strategic Decision Making – Judson Elementary School

Submitted by Carly Quiros

At the end of October, seven members of Judson Elementary School’s SPDG leadership team participated in the Cohort 4 Strategic Decision Making Training alongside five other SPDG schools. With a focus on literacy, participants examined ways to interpret and analyze assessment data, reflected on and planned for the use of indicators of strategic decision making in SRBI and evaluated and refined school-based processes for intervention planning and progress monitoring.

Throughout the two learning days, the team worked together to share ideas and develop a common understanding of strategies to support all learners. One card sort activity challenged the team to identify the differences between varied types of supports and interventions that students might receive. Another activity required the team to use clear and precise language to describe a concern and plan for student growth and progress monitoring; the team was quickly reminded that words like “always”, “often” and “occasionally” mean different things to different team members. These are just a couple of the activities that prepared this leadership team for the training’s culminating activity, which included reflecting on a school-based case study and making decisions based on data.

One Judson leadership team member, Patricia Chipko, summarized her learning in this way: “I feel like I have a better handle on what students need. Because we looked at one of my students in the case study, I feel more prepared to return to school tomorrow and implement strategies to better support her right away.” According to another leadership team member, Rachel Reiter, “It was helpful to use the indicators of collaborative strategic decision making. These indicators will help to benefit our students who need intervention supports to achieve success.” Judson Elementary School’s SPDG leadership team remains excited and equipped to meet the diverse learning needs of all students!

Published: November 9, 2015

Voices from the Field: Change, Change, and More Change

Submitted by Anthony Brisson and Clare Wurm, Technical Assistance Providers

On October 22, 2015, we were scheduled to conduct the annual fall data review at Derby High School. As we kicked off our third year of partnership, we were greeted by three new team members, two teachers and a resident administrator. The entire team was eager to share their data with us, along with all of the changes they made to practices and policies.

To start, we reviewed their SWIS Data. Right away they were able to identify a problem behavior. Due to the revision of their technology policy, there was an increase in ODRs for the misuse of technology devices. The SPDG Team shared how and why they revised their policy, how the entire staff taught the new policy to their students, and ways to promote and reinforce positive behaviors as students adapted to the new policy. As a result of their efforts, the number of ODRs for the misuse of technology decreased more than 50% in one month’s time. Kudos, Team Derby!

As the team continued to share their data with us, we saw a decrease in ODRs for class tardiness from the beginning of last academic year to the beginning of this academic year. What they revealed to us was a prime example of data-driven decision making. After “digging deeper” into the SWIS Data, they realized that certain classrooms were too far apart from one another resulting in students not having enough passing time to get to their classes promptly. Therefore, the SPDG Team, along with administration, made the recommendation to move classrooms around versus increasing passing time. As of the day of our data review, there were only three ODRs for tardiness to class compared to over 100 last year! This is another excellent example of using data to make a strategic decision to improve policies, practices and systems! Again, great job, Team Derby!

As their TA Providers, Clare and I commend them for the hard work they have done and continue to do for staff and students.

Stay tuned to hear about (and hopefully watch!) their Derby-produced PBIS Teaching Videos….

Anthony Brisson and Clare Wurm

Published: November 9, 2015

The Art of Coaching for Transformational Systems Change with Elena Aguilar

This is a two (2) day event – Monday, November 30, & Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Elena Aguilar, author of The Art of Coaching, is committed to supporting educators in their individual and collective transformation. Her goal for school transformation, congruent with SERC’s mission, is to ensure every child receives a quality education and experiences success that is not predictable by zip code, race/ethnicity, religion, ability level, home language, socioeconomic status, gender, or sexual orientation.

In this highly interactive, two-day presentation, Elena will share practical strategies and resources for educators in influential positions, as well as those who support educational leaders as external coaches, to explicitly raise and eradicate inequities that have been institutionalized in our schools and districts. She will help participants examine beliefs and behaviors that have hindered student achievement, and share authentic coaching experiences that have directly resulted in improved outcomes for each and every child.

Coaching for Transformational Systems Change in Schools: an Online Course

This free professional learning opportunity is intended for educators who are new to coaching in schools as well as seasoned technical assistance providers interested in refining their repertoire of coaching skills. This course is a self-paced online professional learning opportunity; as such, starting and ending points are not fixed. Users may pause at any point to read the detail on a slide or reflect on its content. After completing a pre-assessment, users will proceed through each of the three modules at their own learning rate.

Successful completion of each of the modules requires viewing slides while listening to or reading content, reading two or three selected articles, answering several questions at the conclusion of each module, and pausing for personal reflection. You may engage with the content of the modules as an individual or with a group.

Ready to jump in and start learning?

schoology logoThis course is presented on, a free Learning Management System (LMS). Users must first sign up for an account on Schoology, and then may enter our open-enrollment course at any time. Pre-registration through SERC is not required. If you already have an account on, follow the directions below.

For new Schoology users:

  • Visit this link.
  • Sign up for an account on Schoology (link at top-right of screen).
  • We suggest you sign up for an account as an “Instructor”

If you already have a Schoology account:

  • Sign in to Schoology
  • Click ‘Courses’ in the top-line menu, and then “Join”
  • Copy and paste the code: PC7S7-D974B to join the course.

Direct any questions regarding this online course to

In the Spotlight: Whole-District Involvement in SPDG

Submitted by Irene Zytka, Technical Assistance Provider

Region 10 (Harwinton, Burlington) is located in Northwestern Connecticut and is comprised of four schools: two elementary schools, Harwinton Consolidated and Lake Guarda; a middle school, Har-Bur; and a high school, Lewis Mills. The middle school and high school are connected by the central office building.

Over the four years of the grant, all of the schools participated in the Literacy and Behavior training and technical assistance offered by SERC through the State Personnel Development Grant (SPDG). The middle school and high school also took advantage of additional trainings in Scientific Research-Based Interventions (SRBI), Instructional Strategies, student learning objective (SLO) development, and data team training.

Region 10 as a whole was the first district to participate in the revision and development of its SRBI document. This effort was facilitated by SERC consultants during the summer.

The district has demonstrated its commitment to improving student achievement by aligning structures put forth by the SPDG work and through the additional professional learning opportunities. District leaders shared comments such as: “We now have a more deliberate focus on data-driven decision making” and “There is a more systemic connection between all initiatives and the ability to communicate the connections to staff.” This reflects Region 10’s dedication to doing what’s best for students.

In the Spotlight: Making It Work In A Small CT District

Submitted by Sarah-Ann Nicholas and Alice Henley, Technical Assistance Providers

Nestled in the Northeastern corner of the state, the Thompson Public Schools serve approximately 1,260 Connecticut students (CEDaR, 2011). The district’s central office, high school, middle school, and elementary school all inhabit one campus; in fact, the buildings are all connected. In a small district like Thompson, the importance of taking a district-wide approach to behavior management is paramount.

Through participation in the State Personnel Development Grant (SPDG), Thompson developed a leadership team representative of staff from each building who attend professional learning opportunities and engage in decision-making around how to deliver academic and behavioral supports for all students. Involvement of staff members from each school allows for the needs of each individual school to be addressed, while ensuring a consistent approach to be utilized throughout the district. A central office administrator participates as well as a representative building administrator.

All three schools began implementing PBIS in spring 2015 and agreed upon three district and school-wide behavioral expectations: Be Responsible, Be Respectful, and Be Safe. While each school’s behavioral matrix contextualizes each expectation as appropriate for its student population, the consistency of expectations across schools provides more structure and predictability for students as they move from grade to grade.

The effective use of resources and time during district leadership team meetings has allowed this small district to engage in comprehensive professional learning opportunities and increase consistency in the use of PBIS as well as adding to the sense of community across all of their schools.