Module 9 – Data-based decision making

Positive Behaviour for Learning (PBL) is a data driven process and without data, it is just another idea within school contexts. The leadership teams use data to monitor progress, inform decisions, and establish cycles of continuous improvement. It is recommended that teams consider integrating academic and behaviour data when problem solving around both academic and behavioural problems as rates of academic success directly affect behaviour and vice versa.

Types of data

Data sources proven to help schools achieve their desired outcomes include:

  • behaviour referrals
  • suspension
  • other data (academic, attendance, sick bay records)
  • positive behaviour for learning evaluation tools.

School-based (outcome) data sources

Outcome data sources that help determine if schools are achieving the PBL goals. It includes:

  • teacher or executive managed behaviours
  • suspensions
  • attendance
  • lateness
  • academic data such as benchmark assessments and common formative assessments (used to inform academic student outcomes)
  • behaviour referrals.

Data collection barriers

Data collection barriers include:

  • Fear of numbers:
    • Many people have acquired a fear of numbers.
  • Exposure to uncomfortable truths about the school or educators
    • Data may expose uncomfortable truths about the school or the educators in the school, impacting educators’ wellbeing and school reputation.
  • Lack of decision-making using the data
    • School is over collecting data with no visible decision-making being made as a result.
  • Difficulty in understanding large amounts of data
    • Teams may require professional learning as to what are appropriate data collection systems. Lack of understanding can lead to teams and staff capturing unnecessary data.
  • Fear of how data will be used
    • Schools and staff may be concerned that data will be used in a negative manner.

Overcoming barriers to data collection

  1. Frequently share data and data-based decision making with staff and involve them within the decision-making process to encourage staff buy in and purpose.
  2. Ensure staff are aware of the purpose of the data. What is it being used for?
  3. Establish easy to interpret data representation for all to understand and support decision-making.
  4. Ensure all staff are aware of data collection systems and procedures. Allow staff to provide regular feedback to modify data collection systems.
  5. Establish systems where you can share the data effectively with staff to inform future systems and practices.

The leadership team can use the examples below to overcome potential data barriers that are present in their school:

  • communication meetings
  • PBL communication board
  • staff bulletins
  • emails
  • grade, stage or faculty meetings
  • professional learning
  • minutes easily accessible
  • utilise 'think-aloud' processes used to interpret data.

Data systems to inform decision-making

When to analyse data

Twice a term or fornightly cycles:

  • Monthly meetings are an optimal time for monitoring progress.
  • Complete the Big 5: Include the Big 5 Data Decision Guide (PDF 380KB) with behavioural referrals in the agenda as a standing item.
  • It’s important to monitor the progress of the action plan and determine if the PBL Leadership team is achieving their goals.

Annual or semester cycles

There is certain data that is collected each semester or annually. For example: Tiered Fidelity Invention (TFI), Benchmarks of Quality (BoQ), Self Assessment Survey (SAS), and Triangle data tool. More information on these is provided below.

A data-based decision-making model that can be used to collect and analyse academic and behaviour data. This ongoing decision-making process is used at across the PBL continuum. Steps include:

Step 1: Collect and chart data

  • Start with a question: general question related to academic, behavioural or social emotional outcomes. For example, 'Do all students perceive the school to be safe?' Once the question has been identified then you will start collecting the data needed.
  • Data collection and review: Behaviour referrals, attendance records and evaluation tools.
  • Identify what is done well and areas of growth: Celebrate success achieved within PBL implementation, for example lower referrals collected.
  • Minimal effort for biggest impact: Working smarter, having sufficient action plan items.
  • Monthly or fortnightly cycles: Consistent guidelines for when and what data is collected.
  • Annual or semester cycles: Consistent guidelines for when and what data is collected.

Step 2: Analyse and prioritise

The Big 5 data assists schools to organise behavioural referral data. This makes it easier to track progress of school-wide behaviour, identify challenges, and develop school-wide interventions to address these challenges.

The Big 5 data tool is used for problem identification, action planning and monitoring progress.

Data collected includes:

  1. Average referrals per day per month. This asks ‘Is the behaviour associated to a few students or a large number of students?’
  2. Behaviour – what specific behaviours are most prevalent?
  3. Location – where the specific behaviour is happening?
  4. Time – when the specific behaviour is happening?
  5. Student’s involved – who is displaying such behaviours?

Big 5 behaviour referral reports are used at least monthly. Behaviour referral data is used to complete the Big 5 data-based decision-making model. Information on how to complete the ‘Big 5’ is provided on the document.

The Big 5 plan addresses:

  1. prevention
  2. teaching strategies
  3. recognition
  4. discouragement
  5. monitoring.

Step 3: Writing SMART goals

SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time bound) focus attention to the desired outcome.

Step 4: Select strategies

After identifying the SMART goals, the team selects evidence-based actions to reach the goals.

The action plan should identify the goals, steps selected to meet those goals, persons responsible, timelines, communications or professional development required, evidence of implementation and desired outcomes.

Step 5: Determine result indicators

Provide Benchmarks

Result indicators provide easily monitored benchmarks allowing the team to monitor implementation and progress so adjustments can be made as needed.

Result indicators answer 2 questions:

  • Are we implementing the plan as designed?
  • Is the plan having desired results on student outcomes?

Step 6: Evaluate plan

The final step is to evaluate the plan and decide on the next steps with the decision-making depending on these questions:

  • Have we implemented our plan with fidelity? Has it been implemented with accuracy?
  • Have we achieved the goals?
  • Are we making adequate progress toward achieving the goals?

If the team has implemented with fidelity, but has made little or no progress then they may need to modify that plan or develop a new one. This may require going back to step 2 and assessing whether the inference was appropriate.

If the plan was not implemented with fidelity and there has not been adequate progress towards the desired outcomes, it is important to look at barriers that prevented the plan from working.

If the goals were achieved but the plan was not implemented, the team needs to reflect on possible causes for the achievement.

If the goals have been achieved with the plan then sustainability needs to be planned for, unless the goals have just been accomplished.

Data management systems

Appropriate and inappropriate behaviour should be recorded to indicate trends and be used for informed decision making.

A behaviour referral form is designed to record and refer inappropriate behaviours. Many schools have some form of electronic system for recording data, including behaviour data. Electronic systems allow for instantaneous access by executive and staff. When tracking minor behaviours, the development of data decision rules will provide consistency for recording minor behaviours. Other schools use paper systems for collecting data.

Whether a paper or electronic data collection system is used, there are key features that must be included.

Behaviour referral forms should include the following information:

  • Who: student name
  • When: date and time of incident
  • Whom: referring staff
  • Where: location
  • What: type of problem behaviour (minor/major)
  • Why: possible motivation for behaviour – this category gives lots of additional information to the office staff
  • What: teacher action
  • Where to next: follow up.
Image: Example referral form

Evaluation tools

The PBL evaluation tools review the fidelity of systems and practices implemented, identifies whether the team is keeping on track, enables accountability and builds from the last assessment.

The PBL evaluation tools review the fidelity of systems and practices implemented, identifies whether the team is keeping on track, enables accountability and builds from the last assessment.

Information on and the evaluation tools can be found on the department's website in PBL resources.

Decision-making process

Self-assessment survey (SAS)

The SAS is used by school staff for initial and annual assessment of effective behaviour support systems within their school. The survey can be completed in paper format by all staff during professional learning at schools.

The SAS:

  • measures staff perception of the status and priority for improvement of school wide systems
  • is completed annually
  • can be completed on paper
  • has an implementation criteria of 80%.

The SAS survey examines the status and need for improvement of 4 behaviour support systems:

  • school-wide
  • non-classroom
  • classroom settings
  • individual student systems.

Staff are to complete the survey independently. It takes 20-30 minutes to complete. Staff abase their ratings on their individual experiences in the school.

Tiered Fidelity Inventory (TFI)

The purpose is to help schools determine their overall level of implementation and assist with action planning. This tool can also be used to highlight and celebrate success. The results are to be shared with the team, school staff and the community (all key stake holders). More important TFI information:

  • When: at least once, annually.
  • Who: Tier 1 PBL leadership team in consultation with PBL coach or mentor
  • Fidelity criteria for successful PBL implementation is 70% (Mercer, McIntosh & Hoselton, 2017).

Three key components of the TFI

  1. Walkthrough: a normal school day, during a school’s break time.
  2. Inventory: during a team meeting, with all or at least 80% of the team present. Approximately 30-60 minutes to complete.
  3. Action plan development meeting: during a PBL team meeting, with all or at least 80% of the PBL team present. Approximately 30-60 minutes to complete.

There are 15 Tier 1 features separated into the 3 subscales of:

  • teams
  • implementation
  • evaluation.

Benchmarks of Quality (BoQ)

The Benchmarks of Quality (BoQ) is used to identify areas of strength and areas for improvement across 10 critical elements of Tier 1 implementation. It is completed annually and takes 30-45 minutes to complete. Results are entered into an Excel spreadsheet that automatically produces graphs.

The BoQ:

  • reliably assesses PBL team’s implementation
  • is easy to complete by PBL coaches and teams
  • provides feedback to the PBL team
  • clarifies outcomes as related to implementation
  • when used over time, enables scores in each area to be tracked on a year-to-year basis.

The BoQ examines 53 benchmarks across 10 critical elements that align with Tier 1 Universal Prevention. Information is gathered through multiple sources including a review of school records, direct observations and staff and student interviews.

School-wide Evaluation Tool (SET)

The SET evaluates the critical features of school-wide effective behaviour support annually. Completing each evaluation question within the 7 feature areas, the information gathered from the SET can be used to:

  • assess features that are in place
  • determine annual goals
  • evaluate on-going efforts
  • design and revise procedures
  • compare year to year efforts in the area of school-wide implementation.

Triangle data tool

The triangle data tool clearly shows the percentages of students with certain amounts of behaviour referrals in each tier. It gives a clear picture of how well implementation is happening and signal which features of the implementation need to be introduced or revisited. Decision rules are based on the number of executive referrals individuals to indicate additional behavioural support.

Common decision rules are:

  • 2-5 behavioural referrals identify students needing Tier 2 level supports
  • students with 6 or more referrals may indicate a student needing Tier 3 level of support.

The triangle data tool allows teams to effectively monitor the percentage of students who are responding to school-wide interventions and provides a graphic reminder to teams of the importance of having universal systems and practices in place. Schools experience greater success if they can reduce the portion of students who meet the decision rules for targeted and individualised supports.

Return to top of page Back to top