Pine River-Backus Elementary School was one of 67 public schools and six school districts the Minnesota Department of Education recognized for their successful work using Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports, a data-driven program that provides schools and districts with training and support to promote positive student behavior, especially for students facing challenges inside and outside of the classroom.

Through evidence-based practices, this national program aims to make schools more responsive to the cultures and communities they serve. One important area of focus for the program is on decreasing disparities in discipline, which have historically had negative impacts on educational outcomes for students of color, American Indian students and students with disabilities.

The schools receiving recognition are leaders in supporting positive behavior, improving school climate and increasing student achievement.

Since its launch in 2005, PBIS has spread across the state and is currently being implemented by 769 Minnesota schools, more than one-third of the state’s nearly 2,000 public schools. To establish a PBIS program, 80 percent of a school's teachers and staff need to agree to implement a more positive approach to discipline. Participating schools then receive intensive professional development, including instruction in how to monitor and track results.

Data from participating schools show clear evidence of success, specifically in reducing the number of behavioral incidents, fewer student suspensions and increased levels of student engagement.

To be identified as a Sustaining Exemplar School, staff needed to submit an application that documented their work with PBIS, including professional outcomes, a plan for sustaining the program, and how they are giving back and sharing their practices with other schools throughout Minnesota. Schools must also have been implementing PBIS for at least three years.