Administration & Leadership

Using Data to Proactively Manage Student Behavior

Schools can identify trends and patterns in student behavior in order to help correct issues and prevent them from recurring.

December 5, 2023
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Understanding behavior data assists schools in determining areas of success, areas that need additional support, and the action steps required to promote students’ independence. Schools can establish a supporting learning environment for every student by recognizing and addressing their behaviors.

A universal way to capture and collect data is through office discipline referrals for behaviors that administrators handle. These referrals answer the what, where, when, who, and how often of the behaviors. Schools typically collect paper copies of office discipline referrals, but an all-digital format has been very effective at my school—teachers fill out a Google Form, and our administration team immediately receives an email about the issue. Tracking the following six data points and asking specific questions about them will help you unpack information so that you can better understand how to take action:

  • Frequency 
  • Location
  • Time/Day
  • Grade Level/Student
  • Type of Behaviors
  • Missing Skills

1. How often do office discipline referrals happen?

Your admin team can get insight into the effectiveness of interventions and programs by examining changes in the frequency of occurrences over a period. This data can be compared month-to-month and from school year to school year. 

In our system, we track multiple pieces of information. We refer to office discipline referrals as “behavior tickets.” These are one piece of outcome data that we collect. Every behavior ticket submitted includes the following:

  • Date and time
  • Student name
  • Referring staff name
  • Student grade level
  • Location
  • Missing social behavior skill
  • Short explanation of the incident

Each month, our behavior team (principals, counselors, and one teacher from each grade level and department) breaks down all the behavior tickets. We start by charting the total number of behavior tickets. This data allows our team to find if the averages are trending up, trending down, or remaining stable. 

2. Where are these behaviors Happening?

When you know the locations where the behaviors are happening in the school, that can help you understand why they’re taking place in that area. This data allows the team to determine if more support is needed in each location with supervision or expectations.

We have a set of expectations for social behaviors in common spaces. Because our school’s mascot is wildcats, the acronym we use is PAWS (practice respect, act safely, work hard, and show responsibility). Each area of our school (cafeteria, hallways, playground, bathrooms) has its own set of expectations. Tracking these behaviors and locations allows our team to determine which of the four PAWS expectations are challenging for students. Classroom teachers review expectations at the beginning of each school day. The classroom teachers continually review a rotating schedule and reteach expected behaviors at all common locations in the building.

3. When are the behaviors happening? 

Knowing when these behaviors occur helps with correction and determining the best way of addressing them. Revisiting the master schedule to cross-reference the time of day when behaviors occur, as well as where they’re happening, is important and helpful for resolving issues. 

In keeping this data point, we’ve learned that Mondays are difficult for many students. As a result, each Monday we begin the day with 30 minutes for class meetings and social and emotional learning time. Giving our staff this time has helped us reduce occurrences of those Monday issues. 

Knowing the time of day or day of the week has also helped us narrow down why issues are happening. At our school, lunch runs from 10:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., with older students eating toward the end of the period. We saw an increase in behavior tickets from fourth graders around noon. When we looked at the data and talked with the kids, it was obvious that they were hungry and getting impatient waiting for lunch. The next day, we sent home a note for all fourth-grade students that they could bring a snack to eat in class before lunch. We focus on addressing the behavior but also create a plan to ensure that it doesn’t keep happening.

We teach students that they can be OK when others aren’t and that they can do hard things (like being patient) even if they don’t want to. 

4. Who are the students involved?

Whenever behavior begins to impede learning, it’s critical to ensure that Tier 1 supports are implemented for all students and all situations. Tier 2 supports focus on a smaller set of students who show signs of behavior issues. Tier 3 provides support for the most intensive behavior needs.

With this data, we identify students within the intervention tiers. Tier 1 consists of all students who had zero or one ticket. Students in Tier 2 are at risk of or are showing signs of behavioral issues. These students typically have two to four behavior tickets. Tier 3 students display chronic or intense behavior needs. These students have five or more behavior tickets. 

We also assess whether the issue is a student problem or grade-level problem. We’ve had instances where whole grade levels are practicing a skill due to the number of tickets within the grade level.

5. What is being reported? 

Once the team knows the contributing elements and has a clear problem description, they decide what steps to take to remedy the issue. We urge our team to think about ways to stop the problem behavior from happening, what might need to be taught or retaught to address it, and how to best reinforce the behaviors outlined in the school’s expectations.

The behavior team reads each behavior incident and categorizes them into appropriate groups. Each month, we list a percentage of tickets submitted for each behavior. An example would be that one month we might see that 24 percent of all behavior tickets are on inappropriate language, 19 percent on disrespect, and 15 percent on physical aggression. This data informs our social and emotional learning plans. During this time, we can drill down to each of the most common behaviors, creating teachable moments.

6. What needs to be improved?

Your team can learn more about the most frequently reported behaviors by answering this question. From here, the team can decide what actions they’d like to see in their place and create a plan for helping kids engage in replacing their negative behaviors. These actions treat and eliminate problem behaviors by building students’ skills.

Adults in our building ask students processing questions to help them take responsibility, practice skills, and develop a plan for making better decisions. We believe that every negative behavior can be replaced by a positive behavior. We have multiple students who have a daily sheet for an adult to check in with them. Each sheet is different depending on the student, but they have the needed replacement skill, assessment of their emotions, and guidance on how to problem-solve when issues arise.

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Filed Under

  • Administration & Leadership
  • Classroom Management
  • Social & Emotional Learning (SEL)
  • K-2 Primary
  • 3-5 Upper Elementary

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