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Secondary Prevention: Tier 2 in the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) Framework

The Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) framework is made up of three areas of prevention: primary (or universal), secondary, and tertiary. This post is the second in a series of three, and examines the second level, secondary prevention.


In the previous blog posting, we discussed the primary/universal level of PBIS supports. This time, let’s think about the secondary prevention strategies you utilize, which make up tier 2 in the framework. These are defined as specialized group systems for students with at-risk behavior. This tier targets approximately 15–20 percent of the school population as groups showing at-risk behaviors.


Secondary interventions rest on the first level of primary prevention, school-wide and classroom systems. Without school-wide prevention, we can't reliably identify students in need of targeted interventions. These tier 1 systems must be in place and used consistently and with fidelity by all staff.


Interventions from tier 2 of the framework can be effective in working with this at-risk group of students. Approximately 10–15% of students will respond to the targeted group interventions. Tier 2 small group interventions are strategies and procedures put into place to support a group of students who display similar needs or deficits as identified through the data. These interventions may include:


Read more about Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports on our Knowledge Base page.

• Check, Connect, and Expect—This intervention provides for systematic and frequent reinforcement and encouragement for positive behaviors by the staff so that the individual receives high rates of immediate feedback.
• Mentoring—This may be done by staff or peers.
• Coaching.
• Daily progress reports.
• Self-management training—Social stories may be helpful here.
• Social Skills Club—This can benefit all students.
• Student Check In-Check Out in a feedback loop with teachers and parents.
• Ticket/token systems that serve as incentives for and recognize demonstration of pro-social behaviors.


It’s important to consider how to customize our strategies in order to be culturally competent, person-centered, and age-appropriate. Strategies for pre-kindergarteners in an elementary building wouldn’t look or sound like the applications used on a high-school campus.


Parallel concepts from the Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® program for individuals that are exhibiting challenging behaviors at this level include the CPI Verbal Escalation ContinuumSM, limit setting, and Precipitating Factors.


What are your thoughts on these connections? What kinds of things are you doing for secondary prevention? Do you have success stories with the examples above?