Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Learning, Leadership and Change

First Advisor

Anne Zeman

First Committee Member

Delores McNair

Second Committee Member

Melissa Jewell


This study used a phenomenological design to discover how middle school teachers in northern California perceived the effectiveness of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) in improving school climate and lowering office discipline referrals. PBIS is a school-wide initiative implemented in schools across the United States as an approach for addressing discipline and promoting a positive school climate. The researcher examined teacher perceptions on effectiveness of PBIS at the middle school level. The district implemented PBIS to align with district initiatives to lower exclusionary discipline practices (office referrals, suspensions, and expulsions) for students, with an emphasis on African American males, students with disabilities, and foster youth. The study used transformative learning theory and teacher self-efficacy to guide the research. The overarching research question explored was: What are middle school teachers’ perceptions about the effectiveness of PBIS? Data were collected from individual semi-structured open-ended interviews; concern statements; and examination of the trends of suspension, expulsion, and office discipline referrals pre-PBIS and post-PBIS. Data analysis revealed that all participants used positive terms to describe their school’s climate. Participants also experienced shared benefits and barriers when discussing PBIS in their school settings. The results of this study support PBIS in middle schools and addressed barriers. The results could be used to guide the decision-making process of those responsible for PBIS at the local school district level as well as at the individual school and classroom levels.





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