Interventions that focus on the reduction of problem behaviors and support of emotional well-being and social relationships have become increasingly popular around the globe over the past two decades. One such program, School Wide Positive Behavior Supports (SWPBS) has a solid base of evidence for improving social, emotional, and academic outcomes in the short-term. However, there is still little evidence regarding the long-term effects of this popular intervention.
Borgen and colleagues examined the long-term effects of SWPBS on students’ academic failure and marginalization. Specifically, they examined short-term test scores and long-term academic grades, high school dropout, school behavior, and youth crime using population-wide Norwegian register data (N = 964,924). All Norwegian primary schools (grades 1–7) were included in the study (N = 2,366), where 216 of the schools in our sample (9%) had implemented SWPBS. The authors compared these individual-level variables between students who had attended SWPBS schools with those who had not, using a difference-in-difference (DiD) design. They also examined whether program effects were more substantial for students at risk of academic failure and behavioral problems.
- The study found no evidence of long-term effects for at-risk students or all students.
- However, even the most effective interventions tend to see diminishing returns over time.
The lack of positive long-term effects of SWPBS here does not negate past evidence of positive short-term outcomes, but points to a need for further research clarifying this finding.
Source: Borgen, N. T., Raaum, O., Kirkebøen, L. J., Sørlie, M.-A., Ogden, T., & Frønes, I. (2021). Heterogeneity in short- and long-term impacts of School-Wide Positive Behavior Support (SWPBS) on academic outcomes, behavioral outcomes, and criminal activity. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 14(2), 379–409. https://doi.org/10.1080/19345747.2020.1862375