This school year, Riverside Elementary East’s behavior rewards program has taken a big technological leap forward.
In the fall, the Moosic school implemented the online PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports) management system to track and reward student behavior. The system can be found at pbisrewards.com
“Basically, it’s a school-wide management incentive philosophy that a lot of districts use to reward students for making good choices and demonstrating good behavior,” said Riverside East principal Nicole VanLuvender. “We’ve always had a positive behavior program here, but this year, we invested in this management system.”
The PBIS system cost $2,000 to implement, with funding raised last spring via a student council fundraiser. Then, last summer, VanLuvender and a team of teachers put together a plan to put the system into action.
“There’s been a little bit of a learning curve, because there’s so many tools and resources with the program. We haven’t even scratched the surface yet,” VanLuvender said.
At the beginning of the school day, students put on badges that can then be scanned by teachers who want to reward them for exhibiting positive behavior in categories that include: being engaged in learning; being respectful; ready to learn; attendance; and being prepared.
“And we can change those categories. For instance, if we see struggles in one area, we can make it an area where students should focus on,” VanLuvender said. “Teachers can go up to a student and say, ‘I saw you were being very respectful to a classmate,’ then give them that verbal acknowledgement and then reward them the points. The foundation of it is catching students making good decisions and then rewarding them points for it.”
There are separate parent, student and staff applications within the management system. About half of the school’s parents have downloaded the app so far. There, they can see what their kids are earning points for. On the flip side, if a student has a disciplinary infraction, parents are notified about that, too.
“And there’s a communication tool where the teacher can direct message a parent,” VanLuvender said. “One of things I’ve enjoyed about the PBIS tools is they’re constantly updating. And the feedback — they have a great support team. And you’re not just getting an email back. You can actually speak directly to the support team.”
The student app allows kids to track their own progress. The more points they earn, the more student rewards they receive. From there, they can then spend those points at monthly school events like Electronics Day, when students are allowed to bring in a computerized device.
Various point milestones come with specific prizes. When students earn 500 points, they get a lanyard. At 5,000 points, they earn a “Role Model” shirt.
“Some kids are now getting close to 5,000, and many of them will get it in the spring,” VanLuvender said.
At 7,500 points, students can reach into the school’s Viking Vault and grab a prize. If they hit the very impressive 10,000-point mark, they get a sweatshirt and a yard sign that touts their achievement.
VanLuvender said Riverside East will again mount a fundraising drive to pay for another year of the PBIS system. Moving forward, she expects the school to use the system in increasingly advanced ways.
“We’re really excited to move forward,” she said. “It’s been a lot of fun and has given us the chance to breathe new life into the program. It’s been a real asset and enhancement to the school.”