S.O.A.R.: An Eagle-Eyed Evaluation

Zoeie McKnight, Writer

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Throughout Pittsburgh Public Schools, the PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions and Support) program has recently been implemented for the 2018-2019 school year. It is to continue through the future. This program is in place to encourage positive behavior in schools nationwide by giving out rewards for doing so. There have been amazing outcomes from the PBIS program countrywide. Almost half the country follows the PBIS program. A study took place between 2000-2006 where 100 schools followed this program and PBIS significantly improved social skills, resulted in higher test scores, and decreased the amount of time needed to address behavioral issues.

Every school picks common positive objectives and rewards to base their PBIS program on. For example, Obama’s PBIS program is SOAR, which includes being Safe, Open-Minded, an Achiever, and Responsible, and the reward given out is SOAR bucks. SOAR is a system in place at Obama to encourage positive behavior and to highlight those who act positively. According to the Ms. Johnson, the PBIS team for Obama -which includes Mrs. Macklin, Mrs. Sharif-Lucas, Mr. Chapman and others- came up with SOAR because we are the Obama Eagles and we SOAR to succeed. The long term goal of SOAR is to change the culture of the school, to create a positive place for learning and teaching, and also create positive citizens in the community. Since this is district wide, all schools, elementary, middle and high schools are included and expected to follow the PBIS system. For Obama, the administrators and the SOAR team hope to see the middle and high school students learn and support each other and also be role models of good behavior.

There are many different opinions on the SOAR program from students, teachers, and administrators. One administrator said that in her opinion SOAR means being accountable and leading by example, and also creates opportunities for students who follow the PBIS program. A student said that she didn’t understand why the high school needs to do it since it seems childish and something more for middle school, but she said as a whole the program is okay and she enjoys getting SOAR bucks. When asked what they thought about SOAR, a teacher said that they think it’s a very beneficial program for elementary and middle school students but for high school not as much since it doesn’t make sense to try and force accountability on high schoolers since there are more important things they should worry about. Otherwise they think it is a very positive way of enforcing good behavior and think it’ll make many schools a better place.

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