The Clermont Northeastern School District delegation accepts its bronze level award for PBIS implementation at the 2018 Ohio PBIS Showcase in Worthington in November. From left: kindergarten teacher Shannon Backer (CNE Elementary), sixth-grade teacher Tracey Kirk (CNE Middle School), seventh-grade math teacher Cindy Dorsey (CNE Middle School), band director Chris Moore (CNE High School) and Travis Dorsey, CNE Dean of Students

District a leader in building student success through PBIS

By Dick Maloney

At its core, student success is about relationships. That’s the bottom-line takeaway of a statewide initiative that Clermont Northeastern School District is performing better than most.

CNE was honored last month with a bronze level implementation award for the Positive Behaviors Intervention and Support program at the Clermont Northeastern High School, CNE Middle School and CNE Elementary, as well as a district-wide recognition. The designation means the school and/or district has implemented tier one of PBIS with “fidelity of 80 percent or better.” A CNE delegation accepted the awards at the 2018 Ohio PBIS Showcase Nov. 29 and Nov. 30 in Worthington.

Travis Dorsey, CNE’s Dean of Students, led the delegation, which included band director Chris Moore, kindergarten teacher Shannon Backer, sixth-grade math teacher Tracey Kirk and seventh-grade math teacher Cindy Dorsey, and also presented a session, “PBIS at the DLT: Utilizing the DLT and Building Data to Collaboratively Increase Implementation.” DLT is the District Leadership Team.

PBIS is a directive from the Ohio Department of Education, and CNE has become one of the recognized leaders this year.

“Our biggest accomplishment to date is that we received the district implementation award. We were recognized with 3 other school districts in the state of Ohio.  We are 1 of 4 districts who are able to say that they are implementing PBIS district-wide with at least a bronze level of implementation. We were the only one in our state support team 13 region in Cincinnati, there were three other school districts recognized, but we were the only ones within 150-200 miles of our district,” Dorsey said.

“We started our journey in 2014 and have been working district-wide in small groups, training staff, creating expectations and systems of support that need to be put into place for kids to be successful,” T.J. Dorsey said. “That’s really the whole idea behind PBIS. There’s lots of research out there saying it’s the most effective way to get positive behavior into your district, so it ties into our district climate and culture goals. We have lots of work left to do and the journey is far from over, but it feels very good to know we are on the right track.”

There are three tiers to the PBIS framework, which Dorsey describes as a “cone shape.”

Tier one – the bottom of the cone – addresses 80 to 85 percent of the student body who respond to the teaching of expectations, positive reinforcement, and some curriculum based character education work.

Tier two is student who might need an additional layer of support such as, check-in or check-out,  maybe help from a support person reminding them of the expectations.  Tier three is the “1 to 5 percent” group that may need some intensive supports that may include mental health support, additional behavior instructional resources, and in some cases working with an intensive family team as well as an intervention specialist for higher needs.

Dorsey credits CNE’s part of success to its use of data, as well as an app, PBIS Rewards.

“We can use behavioral data now, data-based decision-making is what it allowed us to do for the first time as a district, so we can use that information to come up with responses as a district for the student body, we can do that by grade level, we can do that by time of day, time of week, time of year, or even by looking at historical data now that we’ve began implementation,” Dorsey said.

The biggest improvement has come in a reduction of in-school suspensions, from more than 150 at the high school in 2014-2015 to fewer than 50 in 2017-2018. Dorsey said they have also seen reductions in suspensions and time out of class at the middle school level.

Staff uses positive incentives to reward positive behavior.  Earlier this year, selected students were able to attend the Clermont Northeastern middle school performance of “Peter Pan Jr.”

“The biggest things we’ve noticed too at the middle school is they’ve started doing positive office referrals, so instead of calling kids down for being in trouble, they call them down for doing something above and beyond. The teachers give them a paper and it explicitly says what positive behavior was demonstrated, and then the administrators call home and let the parents know their student did something awesome, and what we’ve seen is they’ve given out over 100 positive office referrals, and have still not hit 50 negative office referrals as a building, so it’s really changed that dynamic as well.”

It is too early to correlate PBIS success with academic success, Dorsey said.

“I think that’s a long-term process we can look at and say we had this many course failures at this level of implementation and now that we are implementing with fidelity  across all three tiers, we can measure the outcome data. It’s something we can definitely look at in the future.”

Community partners and a staff that has completely bought into the initiative have helped, according to Dorsey. He cited Joe Luigi’s, which supports the program by placing items in the school’s store such as a free pizza voucher to the students. “They run a pizza reward there. They’ve been wonderful with that. They’ve been really one of our biggest partners and they’re a wonderful resource to our community as well,” Dorsey said.

The CNE District Leadership Team has secured state grants to help alleviate the cost of the program.

There’s no way our district would be where it is now without the support of having strong building leadership  finding PBIS to be important. It is even more important that the teachers in each building find the program useful. There’s a large group of people who really do buy into this and believe this changes student behavior,” Dorsey said,

Underlying all of the data is the day-to-day interaction between staff and students. High school principal T.J. Glassmeyer is a believer.

“There are kids that I can get to do things because I have a relationship with them that someone else can’t. If I tell a kid,’ Take your hood off for me,’ they’ll immediately do it, where they may fight a teacher, because I have a relationship with them and they know it doesn’t need to be a huge issue and we’ve worked together for a long time and we have that relationship,” Glassmeyer said.

About CNE Schools

CNE, in partnership with the community, will provide students with the skills and exploratory experiences that enable them to reach their fullest potential. To accomplish this, the CNE staff will:


• Strive to make children confident and creative builders of their future

• Research, design, and provide the best academic program and learning environment possible for students.

Schools in the CNE District include Clermont Northeastern High School, Clermont Northeastern Middle School, Clermont Northeastern Elementary School and Clermont Northeastern Preschool.