Student behavior problems in school and classroom settings are of great concern to parents, teachers, and school administrators. These behaviors range from talking out and noncompliance to more serious behaviors such as violence and vandalism. Effectively managing student behavior problems lays the foundation for creating a safe school environment and is a critical concern for all teachers. A school wide positive behavior intervention and support system (PBIS) is an effective and proactive way to prevent misbehavior. All teachers and staff teach and reinforce a specified set of positive behaviors. These positive behaviors are expected of each student. This study analyzed teachers' perceptions of one aspect of a school-wide PBIS, a written praise note system associated with four identified social skills. The participating elementary school served 655 students in 1st through 6th grade. At the request of the school, Kindergarten students and teachers were not included. During the 2012-2013 school year, the number and type of praise notes were analyzed on several levels: (a) all students, (b) students categorized by grade level, and (c) students who received one or more office disciplinary referrals (ODRs). When analyzing the praise notes written by teachers, on average—across the school year—each student received an average of approximately 12 praise notes. During that same time frame, on average, each of the students who received an ODR received 7 praise notes. Based on this data, in comparison to the general student body, students who were identified as exhibiting problematic behaviors tended to receive fewer written praise notes from teachers. Focus groups were conducted with the participating teachers to determine their perceptions of the feasibility and effectiveness of their school's written praise note system, as part of a PBIS system. Overall, teachers perceived the participating school's praise note system as effective in preventing the majority of classroom behavior problems. The majority of teachers expressed their support for both the feasibility and effectiveness of awarding praise notes and reported fitting praise notes in with their daily classroom routines. This research implies that teachers are able to use a written praise notes systems to meet the general behavior needs of most students (Tier 1). However, based on focus group discussions, a few teachers also reported having challenges when attempting to implement the praise notes with fidelity. The majority of teachers identified the need for additional individualized strategies to address the needs of students with more severe behavioral challenges. Implications of this research indicate the need to consider additional options to reinforce desired behaviors of children with more extreme behavioral challenges.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Counseling Psychology and Special Education



Date Submitted


Document Type





positive behavior support, praise note, social validity, social skills, elementary school, teachers' perceptions