PB4L School-wide Evaluation: Preliminary findings

Publication Details

This report presents indicative findings from the first phase of an evaluation of Positive Behaviour for Learning: School-Wide (PB4L: School-Wide). The report discusses the implementation and short-term shifts for schools that began PB4L: School-Wide in 2010/11. The findings suggest that overall, PB4L: School-Wide is well-regarded in participating schools and is linked to a wide range of changes for schools, teachers, and students.

Author(s): Sally Boyd, Rachel Dingle and Nicole Herdina, New Zealand Council for Educational Research.

Date Published: June 2014

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Executive Summary

This report summarises the initial findings from phase 1 of an evaluation of Tier 1 of Positive Behaviour for Learning (PB4L) School-Wide (SW). It describes the extent of implementation of SW in schools, identifies short-term shifts for schools that joined the initiative in 2010 or 2011, and discusses enablers and barriers to implementation. It outlines some big-picture trends that can then be further explored in the final 2015 report.

Introduction to PB4L SW

SW is one component of the PB4L programme of work. SW is the New Zealand version of a proven international initiative called Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports. SW offers primary, intermediate, and secondary schools a way of building a consistent and positive school-wide climate to support learning. It is a framework of key elements which schools implement in ways that suit their context. It aims to engage the whole school community in adapting school structures, practices, and philosophies related to behaviour, and in developing systems that everyone can use in a consistent way. Each school forms a team to implement SW in a way that is collaborative, data-driven, and problem-solving. School staff are offered a package of SW training and support which includes training days, cluster meetings with local schools, and access to regionally-based SW Practitioners who work with schools to support them to implement SW.

SW has three tiers. During Tier 1 schools put in place a core set of behaviour support systems and practices designed to be used consistently by all to encourage positive behaviour. Once the core elements of Tier 1 are in place schools can move to Tier 2 (developing targeted interventions for small groups of vulnerable students) and Tier 3 (developing specialised interventions for individuals who need additional support). SW began in New Zealand in 2010. Each year around 100 schools join the initiative.

Introduction to this evaluation

The New Zealand Council for Educational Research (NZCER) evaluation is a mixed-method study with a focus on process and outcomes. The evaluation focuses on Tier 1 of SW and runs from 2013 to 2015. The evaluation questions this report explores are:

  • What short-term shifts is SW supporting towards SW outcomes for students and schools?
  • Are core SW practices being implemented as intended?
  • What factors enable or hinder the shifts in schools?
  • What does effective support for SW schools look like in a New Zealand context?


Phase 1 of the evaluation mostly took place in Terms 3–4, 2013, and involved the 408 schools that joined Tier 1 of SW from 2010–13. We collected data on short-term shifts, and barriers and enablers from 89 schools that joined SW in 2010/11. Baseline data and information about the initial implementation of SW was collected from 102 schools that joined in 2012/13. Data from the following existing and new sources are included in this report.


Schools and Ministry of Education personnel

  • Surveys from 191 school coaches and 181 English and mathematics curriculum leaders in SW schools
  • School-Wide Evaluation Tool (SET) data from 169 SW schools (SET documents the extent to which seven essential features of SW are in place in a school and consistently understood and used)
  • SW values and behaviour expectations documents from 92 SW schools
  • Surveys from 13 SW Practitioners, and interviews with seven Ministry of Education SW national and regional practice leaders and managers.


Student data

  • National data on stand-down, suspension, expulsion, and exclusion rates (SSEE) from SW and non-SW schools
  • Office Discipline Referral (ODR) data from 87 SW schools
  • Wellbeing@School student surveys from 71 SW schools and 10,883 students compared with data from a national reference group.

Where to find out more

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