Letter from the Midwest PBIS Network with Recommendations for Illinois ESSA Plan

Tony Smith, State Superintendent of Education

Illinois State Board of Education

100 West Randolph Street - Suite 4-800

Chicago, Illinois 60601-3223

Sent via email to essa@isbe.net

December 20, 2016

Dear Dr. Smith:

On behalf of over 250 endorsers supporting these recommendations (list of endorsements attached), thank you for allowing us to provide input on the Illinois plan for Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Draft #2. The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) National Technical Assistance Center on PBIS reports 23,363 schools implementing PBIS nation-wide. The Midwest PBIS Network, formerly known as the Illinois PBIS Network, is a technical assistance hub of the National TA center and has a long history of supporting districts in Illinois to implement and sustain Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS).  In 2014, Illinois shifted funding to support PBIS implementation to a statewide technical assistance center (ISTAC now IL MTSS), and since that time LEA demand for dedicated technical assistance of behavior supports remains high. The Midwest PBIS Network continues to receive requests for training and support on implementing behavior supports within MTSS.  Given the breadth of the requests in Illinois, the passing of SB100, and the direction of ESSA, the need for partnerships and funding is increasingly important. We would like to collaborate with ISBE and IL-EMPOWER  to consider how partnering together in one system will help meet the LEA demand.

Midwest PBIS Network has continued to establish training and technical assistance opportunities to meet the district demands for behavior supports in MTSS. With our support over the past two years, 695 Illinois schools have measured the fidelity of their PBIS implementation, and over 600 schools have applied for and earned formal recognition of their behavior support efforts from bronze to platinum levels. A total of 1,070 Illinois schools in 193 districts are using resources supported by the Midwest PBIS Network (e.g. SWIS data system, assessments through PBIS Applications, technical assistance for coaching, etc.).  

Over the past two decades, the research and development of PBIS has evolved from focusing on a multi-tiered framework solely for implementing behavior interventions and supports, to using the multi-tiered framework to organize supports for holistic student needs.  Therefore we are very encouraged to see a strong emphasis on the whole child throughout Illinois’s ESSA plan.  Some research and demonstrations of the national and local implementation include:

  • Embedding classroom management and bullying prevention strategies into Tier 1

  • Integrating school-based mental-health into multi-tiered system of supports (i.e. Interconnected Systems Framework)

  • Integrating restorative justice practices in the continuum of tiered supports

  • Increasing family partnerships (Positive Family Support Model)

  • Focus on alignment of systems and initiatives

  • Updated tools for measuring fidelity of behavior support across all three tiers of MTSS

  • Addressing disproportionality within discipline

As a hub of the OSEP National TA Center, Midwest PBIS Network is situated and ready to support ISBE in the development and implementation of their ESSA plan. The Technical Assistance Center on PBIS provides continued research to define, develop, implement, and evaluate a multi-tiered approach to improve the capacity of states, districts, and schools to establish, scale-up, and sustain the PBIS framework.   While OSEP funds the National TA Center to focus on supporting the social emotional needs of students, much of the research conducted at the National TA Center actually focuses on structures for capacity and sustainability as well as integration of multi-tiered supports.  

An example of the technical assistance resources from the National PBIS TA Center is the Implementation Blueprint and Self Assessment (2015, Oct 19), which guides MTSS teams in the assessment, development, and execution of their action plans.   The components of the blueprint are consistent with the Illinois State Board of Education’s Quality Framework for Illinois School Districts (2016, Aug 29), and provide districts and schools with a technical assistance model for informing the framework’s indicators.

We appreciate ISBE providing the opportunity for comments on the draft of ESSA implementation plan.  On behalf of over 1,000 Illinois schools currently accessing resources from the Midwest PBIS Network and National PBIS TA Center, we have three overall recommendations:

We have three overall recommendations:

  1. Ensure all Illinois schools have access to adequate technical assistance aligned to National PBIS TA Center research to implement and sustain behavioral supports within a multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS) framework

  2. Use multiple measures for school climate within the proposed Accountability System as the School Quality Indicator

  3. A partnership between ISBE, IL-EMPOWER, and the Midwest PBIS Network to develop both State and LEA capacity for implementation, fidelity, and sustainability of the following supports and integrated evidence-based practices for district and schools as recommended in section 5.1 (p. 62) of the Illinois ESSA Plan:

    • Trauma-Informed Environments

    • Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS)

    • Classroom Management

    • Anti-Bullying Programming

    • Restorative Practices

    • Functional Behavioral Assessment - Behavior Intervention Plans (FBA-BIP)

    • Check-In, Check-Out (CICO)

    • Family Engagement

    • Education Environment Practices

    • Person-centered Planning Practices (wraparound,Care Coordination, etc.)

    • School-Community Partnerships

In addition to these three overall recommendations, the Midwest PBIS Network will send a second separate letter with more detailed recommendations aligning to Draft #2.

Over 250 educational professionals from across Illinois have endorsed these recommendations, including leadership from 40 districts, 50 schools, teachers, clinicians, faculty from five universities, the Illinois School Psychologists Association, Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission, and the Illinois Balanced and Restorative Justice Project.  Further, 12 individuals have informed us that they also submitted their own letter endorsing these recommendations.  

We  hope the breadth of growing research, resources, and networking available from the Midwest PBIS Network as a hub of the OSEP National PBIS TA Center will be used to develop and implement Illinois’s ESSA plan. We look forward to collaborating with ISBE to implement their ESSA plan and improving outcomes for all students in Illinois.


Sheri Luecking and Brian C. Meyer, Co-Directors

sheri.luecking@midwestpbis.org, brian.meyer@midwestpbis.org

SASED: Midwest PBIS Network

2900 Ogden Ave., Lisle, Illinois 60532

Supporting Documents

MWPBIS Overall ESSA Proposal with Endorsements:

MWPBIS Overall ESSA Proposal

MWPBIS Detailed ESSA Proposal:

MWPBIS Detailed ESSA Proposal