The Wisconsin RtI Center (Response to Intervention) recognized each school in this year’s round of RtI awards, which focus on how well schools implement the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) behavior education system.
Delavan-Darien High School, Phoenix Middle School, Turtle Creek Elementary School and Wileman Elementary School earned School of Merit awards, while Darien Elementary received a higher School of Distinction award.
“The Darien staff has worked extremely hard the last few years establishing and reinforcing positive expectations for each of the areas of the school,” Principal Kelly Pickel said.
Pickel cited working with the bus company to establish and reinforce expectations on the bus, which has helped reduce the number of behavior referrals there. Also, the Peaceful Playgrounds project greatly reduced the number of referrals on the playground by providing more opportunities for activities.
Pickel said the school’s PBIS leadership team meets regularly to review data and make adjustments and determine focus areas where improvement is necessary based on behavioral data.
“The students have been learning and practicing our behavioral expectations and are rewarded frequently for their positive choices,” Pickel said. “We are blessed with the commitment of the leadership team, the dedication the staff has given to PBIS, support from the parents, and the students’ diligence in following the expectations.”
At the school and throughout the district, PBIS is known as “The Comet Code.” The code is the set of rules and expectations for all students in all areas of our buildings and campuses. It calls for everyone to “Be Respectful,” “Be Responsible,” “Be Safe” and “Be a Learner” at all times.
PBIS is a proactive approach that establishes safer and more effective schools not only in Delavan-Darien, but throughout the country.
Darien was one of 162 recognized as a School of Distinction by the Wisconsin RtI Center.
There were 222 schools statewide recognized as Schools of Merit, with DDHS, Phoenix, Turtle Creek and Wileman among them.
To have an entire district recognized is quite an accomplishment, said Superintendent Robert Crist, Ed.D.
“These awards are the result of not just one person or a handful of staffers, but all staff contributed to this achievement,” Crist said. “We have worked diligently for the last four-plus years, implementing this proven system in our schools. We have seen positive results each year since we began and these awards recognize the hard work of our building teams. I am very proud we have received these honors.”
Turtle Creek received a Merit award last year and Phoenix in the 2012-13 school year.
Delavan-Darien High School first piloted PBIS and The Comet Code in the 2010-11 school year. The program has since grown to all five of the district’s schools.
As a result of The Comet Code being in all Delavan-Darien schools, the district has seen improved student behaviors and reduced office visits, said Dr. Sara Halberg, Delavan-Darien’s director of pupil services.
Staff frequently reviews student data and identify behavior concerns and areas where re-teaching is needed. School counselors and psychologists are involved in developing behavior plans for students who are more frequently in the office.
Schools often use a pre-determined calendar of teaching expectations and behaviors so that, virtually daily, students and staff were “on the same page” in learning about different expectations at the school. Also, the language is consistent across all schools so as students get older and progress through the buildings, there is familiarity with behavioral expectations. Teachers, too, have a common understanding of school-wide expectations.
By in large, students have also bought into the Comet Cash reward system. When students are “caught” doing something positive, they were rewarded with Comet Cash, which could be used to buy items (posters, gift cards, pencils, etc.), or special privileges such as having lunch with a teacher, reading to another classroom or having special show-and-tell days. The Comet Cash can also be used in drawings for bigger raffle prizes in the middle and high school.
“As a result of the staff’s commitment and dedication to enforcing the Comet Code, we witnessed our behavioral referrals and discipline consequences reduce from 2014-15 to 2015-16,” said Phoenix Middle School Associate Principal Jim Karedes, who will be principal at DDHS in the fall. “We continue to make changes to best meet the needs of our building and students.”
In addition to behavior improvements, the district has seen some improvements in attendance rates over the years. The school cultures have improved and teachers are more receptive to acknowledging and encouraging both good academics and good behavior. Beyond that, parent involvement in school activities has also increased.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
For more about the award and its requirements for consideration, visit the Wisconsin RtI Center website: