Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Abraham S. Fischler College of Education


Herminia Rivera

Committee Member

Jia Borrow


PBIS barriers, PBIS enablers, PBIS implementation, PBIS sustainability, rural elementary schools, teacher perceptions


Embedded within the 1990 amendment of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was a mandate stipulating all school systems incorporate some form of PBIS. Elected officials thought it was necessary to implement positive behavior intervention and supports (PBIS) into school systems behavior plans due to the ever-increasing number of students with mild to severe behavioral issues. Behavior issues include truancy, verbal and physical abuse of teachers and peers, and depression, to name a few. These behavior issues negatively impact a student’s ability to make satisfactory academic progress as well as negatively impacting the learning of their peers.

Yet, despite this mandate, many school systems either fail to incorporate PBIS into their behavior plan or are poorly implemented. Previous studies indicate a trend in teacher perception. These trends include lack of administration support, lack of thorough training, lack of understanding of the details in implementation, and teacher buy-in on PBIS effectiveness. Despite these trends in previous studies, none were conducted in a rural school system. All were conducted in large urban school systems.

The purpose of this qualitative case study is designed to explore teachers’ perceptions of the implementation and sustainability of PBIS in the classroom and on a school-wide basis at a local rural elementary school. The rural classroom presents a unique dynamic in comparison to their urban and inner-city counterparts. The most significant difference is the behavior of students residing in poverty and the ailments associated with poverty. Rural school systems also do not have the luxury of funding often seen in urban and inner-city school systems. Lack of funding prohibits thorough professional development needed for mandated programs such as PBIS.

Teachers are the primary source of PBIS implementation. It is vital for teachers’ express their opinions on the implementation and sustainability of PBIS. Allowing teachers to express their opinions provides a sense of ownership in the process. For PBIS to be effectively implemented in the classroom and throughout the school, teachers must feel they have a voice in PBIS execution and any changes made in the procedures of implementation.

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