Proactive Student Behavior Management Utilizing Data

Understanding behavior data helps schools identify areas of success, areas that require additional support, and the necessary steps to promote students’ independence. By recognizing and addressing student behaviors, schools can create a supportive learning environment for every student.

An effective way to capture and collect data is through office discipline referrals for behaviors handled by administrators. These referrals provide information on the what, where, when, who, and how often of the behaviors. While schools usually collect paper copies of referrals, using an all-digital format has been highly successful in my school. Teachers fill out a Google Form, and our administration team receives an immediate email notification about the issue. To gain insights from behavior data, track the following six data points and ask specific questions about them:

  • Frequency 
  • Location
  • Time/Day
  • Grade Level/Student
  • Type of Behaviors
  • Missing Skills

1. How frequently do office discipline referrals occur?

Analyzing changes in the frequency of occurrences over a period can provide insights into the effectiveness of interventions and programs. You can compare this data month-to-month and from one school year to another.

In our system, we track various pieces of information. We refer to office discipline referrals as “behavior tickets,” which are one type of outcome data we collect. Each behavior ticket includes the following details:

  • Date and time
  • Student name
  • Referring staff name
  • Student grade level
  • Location
  • Missing social behavior skill
  • Brief explanation of the incident

Every month, our behavior team (consisting of principals, counselors, and one teacher from each grade level and department) analyzes all the behavior tickets. We start by plotting the total number of behavior tickets on a chart. This data helps us determine whether the averages are trending up, trending down, or staying stable.

2. Where are these behaviors occurring?

Knowing the locations where behaviors are happening in the school can provide insights into why they occur in those areas. This data helps the team determine if additional support is needed in specific locations in terms of supervision or setting expectations.

We have established expectations for social behaviors in common areas. As our school’s mascot is the wildcat, we use the acronym PAWS (practice respect, act safely, work hard, and show responsibility). Each area of our school (cafeteria, hallways, playground, bathrooms) has its own set of expectations. Tracking behaviors and locations helps us identify which of the four PAWS expectations are challenging for students. Classroom teachers review expectations at the start of each school day, and they continuously reinforce expected behaviors at all common locations in the building.

3. When are the behaviors occurring?

Knowing the timing of these behaviors helps with addressing and correcting them effectively. Checking the master schedule to cross-reference the time of day when behaviors occur, along with their locations, is important for resolving issues.

Based on this data point, we have learned that Mondays are particularly challenging for many students. As a result, we allocate 30 minutes every Monday for class meetings and social and emotional learning time. Providing this dedicated time has helped us reduce the occurrence of Monday-related issues.

Understanding the time of day or day of the week has also helped us identify the underlying causes of issues. For example, our lunch period runs from 10:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., with older students eating toward the end of the period. We noticed an increase in behavior tickets from fourth graders around noon. Upon analyzing the data and speaking with the students, it became clear that they were hungry and becoming impatient while waiting for lunch. The next day, we sent a note to all fourth-grade students allowing them to bring a snack to eat in class before lunch. We address the behavior and implement a plan to prevent its recurrence.

We teach students the importance of maintaining composure even when others are not and encourage them to embrace challenging tasks, such as practicing patience.

4. Who are the students involved?

When behavior starts to interfere with learning, it is crucial to implement Tier 1 supports for all students and situations. Tier 2 supports focus on a smaller group of students who exhibit signs of behavior issues, while Tier 3 provides support for the most intensive behavior needs.

Using this data, we identify students falling within the different intervention tiers. Tier 1 includes all students with zero or one behavior ticket. Tier 2 comprises students at risk of or displaying signs of behavioral issues, typically having two to four behavior tickets. Tier 3 involves students with chronic or intense behavior needs, having five or more behavior tickets.

We also evaluate whether the issue is specific to individual students or a problem within a particular grade level. There have been instances where an entire grade level has focused on practicing a skill due to the number of tickets within that grade level.

5. What is being reported?

Once the team identifies the contributing factors and clearly defines the problem, they determine the necessary steps to address the issue. The team considers ways to prevent the problem behavior, determine which skills may need to be taught or reinforced, and how to effectively reinforce behaviors aligned with the school’s expectations.

The behavior team reads and categorizes each behavior incident into appropriate groups. Every month, we calculate the percentage of tickets submitted for each behavior. For example, we might find that 24 percent of all behavior tickets are related to inappropriate language, 19 percent to disrespect, and 15 percent to physical aggression. This data informs our social and emotional learning plans and allows us to focus on the most common behaviors, creating teachable moments.

6. What needs improvement?

By answering this question, your team can gain insights into the most frequently reported behaviors. Based on this information, the team can decide on the actions they want to see implemented and create a plan to help students replace negative behaviors with positive ones. These actions aim to address and eliminate problem behaviors by developing students’ skills.

Within our school, adults engage students in processing questions to help them take responsibility, practice skills, and develop plans for making better decisions. We firmly believe that every negative behavior can be replaced by a positive one. Some students have a daily sheet for an adult to check in with them, which includes the necessary replacement skill, an assessment of their emotions, and guidance on problem-solving when issues arise. Each sheet is tailored to the student’s needs.

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