In the late 1980s and early 1990s, articles about school-wide behavior management began to appear in the literature. In particular, researchers at the University of Oregon were publishing the results of their early work around school-wide discipline programming.

At that time, Bill Hussey, Behavior Support Section Chief of the Exceptional Children Division at the NC Department of Public Instruction, and his team began to incorporate this information into the professional development it provided.

By the late nineties, the section was discussing whole-school implementation with schools and school systems. When NC received a state improvement grant, funding to develop demonstration sites for whole school behavior management was written in as part of the project by the Behavior Support Section Chief at that time, Joe Knight.

The initial sites identified were provided with information about implementation at Fern Ridge Middle, and the next Behavior Support Section Chief, Diann Irwin, made contact with Lucille Eber, of the Illinois PBIS Network about providing PBS training for these identified demonstration sites. It was through this contact that the NC Department of Public Instruction formed a connection with the OSEP National Technical Assistance Center for PBIS. Tim Lewis, of the University of Missouri and one of the center co-directors, came to NC in 2001-2002 school year to provide Positive Behavior Support training for a cadre of trainers.

After this initial training, the Behavior Support Section Consultants, along with participants from the demonstration sites, continued to provide training across the state. This model continued until the Regional Coordinator positions were established in the fall of 2005. With the addition of these support staff, the initiative began adding an average of about 150 school teams per year, and expanded efforts to provide technical assistance and evaluation support beyond training. In late 2007, the NC State Legislature created a State PBIS Consultant position with the NC Department of Public Instruction.

By the end of the 2008-2009 school year, 790 school teams reported being at some stage of PBIS implementation, representing over 30% of all the schools in the state. This group includes schools at all grade levels, although more elementary schools are implementing overall. Of these, over 300 submitted Schoolwide Evaluation Tool (SET) scores, and the statewide average for this assessment is over 80%, which indicates that these schools are implementing school-wide PBIS with a high level of fidelity. Suspension rates for PBIS schools have shown decreasing trends for the past 5 years. In addition, average rates of office discipline referrals in PBIS schools in NC are below the national average across grade levels.

As the initiative continues to grow, the State Leadership Team, State Consultant, and Regional Coordinators work to ensure the continued sustainability of the project. Special projects and efforts include: development of a data collection manual, production of an annual evaluation report, creation and implementation of a recognition program, trainer boot camp to encourage and provide for local sustainability, district implementation, family and community involvement, and connecting with other initiatives both within DPI and with other public agencies (such as Cultural Responsiveness, Responsiveness to Instruction, and Systems of Care).

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