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School of Education Professor Examines Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports in South Dakota Schools

Kari Oyen Examines Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports in South Dakota Schools Kari Oyen researched positive practices in rural elementary schools.

VERMILLION, S.D. – Kari Oyen, Ph.D., associate professor in the University of South Dakota School of Education school psychology program, identified systemic prevention efforts that impact academic achievement in South Dakota schools.

In the article “An Examination of Critical features of Positive Frameworks: Impact in Rural Environments for School-based Practitioners,” published in Contemporary School Psychology, Oyen and colleague Sarah Wollersheim Shervey, Ph.D., examined the implementation of Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) in South Dakota schools.

Unlike other methods that focus on behavior of individual students, PBIS is applied to an entire school to improve the school context. They teach, model and reward expected behavior, and the schools also develop plans to respond to inappropriate behavior with consistent interventions.

“I have had the honor of being part of this work for over 10 years.” Oyen said. “I’m so excited to highlight the importance of creating positive environments for schools and how this can be related to academic achievement.”

Among the South Dakota schools studied, those that implemented PBIS with greater fidelity demonstrated stronger overall achievement, as well as higher English language arts and math achievement.

“This research highlights positive practices in rural elementary schools, which is an area of inquiry that is underserved and underrepresented in peer-reviewed literature,” said Oyen.

The study was conducted in partnership with the South Dakota Department of Education Multi-tiered Systems of Support PBIS project. Thirty-five elementary schools participated in the PBIS project in the state of South Dakota during the 2014-15 school year. Participating schools collected data to examine fidelity of PBIS practices as well as mean levels of academic achievement.


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Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 84 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.


Hanna DeLange
USD News