PBIS Cultural Responsiveness

The Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports (PBIS) published a field guide that outlines integrated frameworks to embed equity efforts into school-wide positive behavioral interventions and supports (SWPBIS) by ensuring the framework aligns with culturally responsive practices to the core components of SWPBIS (2021).

Understanding is the foundation of taking a person-centered approach and will strengthen the student’s confidence in believing teaching personnel is taking the time to understand them as an individual if the teaching staff goes the extra mile to build a responsive environment that is culturally competent and inclusive.

The Power of Culture

There is power in taking the time to understand distinct cultures. Taking the time to understand, and learn, about varying cultures presents an opportunity to understand how shared beliefs and behaviors are acquired and maintained.

Aspire - Cultural Responsiveness

A Note on Culture from PBIS 

  • Behavior is learned and is context-specific
  • Members of a cultural group may, or may not, engage in each shared behavior of a culture depending on the situation
  • Shared beliefs and behaviors serve purposes

Cultural responsiveness consists of (a) holding high expectations for all students and (b) using students’ cultures and experiences to enhance their overall learning experiences (Leverson et al., 2021).

Empathy is at the core of cultural responsiveness and teaching staff are encouraged to take the time to understand the effects the school systems have on each student. Implementing these practices will ensure that teaching staff and personnel are creating an equitable environment for all students to thrive.


Leverson, M., Smith, K., McIntosh, K., Rose, J., & Pinkelman, S. (March, 2021). PBIS Cultural Responsiveness Field Guide: Resources for Trainers and Coaches. Center on PBIS, University of Oregon. www.pbis.org.


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