Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Psychological and Social Foundations

Major Professor

Jose Castillo, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Robert Dedrick, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Don Kincaid, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Shannon Suldo, Ph.D.


educational equity, school discipline, positive behavior interventions and supports


In U.S. schools, Black and Hispanic youth receive discipline in the form of office discipline referrals and out-of-school suspensions at a rate greater than their White peers. Contributing factors to this “discipline gap” may be found across a number of ecological variables. Therefore, multifaceted and systemic interventions such as school-wide positive behavior interventions and supports (SWPBIS) should be evaluated for their effectiveness in producing more equitable school discipline rates. In light of mixed evidence for the relationship of SWPBIS with discipline equity, the purpose of this study was to examine the merits of five critical elements of SWPBIS for reducing discipline rates for Black and Hispanic students and for closing the discipline gap. Among a sample of 322 Florida SWPBIS-implementing schools serving a total of 292,490 students, SWPBIS fidelity’s relationships with discipline rates and with disparities were investigated. The Benchmarks of Quality, a psychometrically sound measure of SWPBIS fidelity completed by a school-based team and an external coach, was completed at each school. Results of multiple linear regression analyses indicated that higher fidelity to SWPBIS Classroom Systems was related to decreased discipline risk for all students, including Black and Hispanic students, but not more equitable discipline practices. Higher fidelity to SWPBIS Expectations was related to higher suspension risk among Black students while higher levels of Recognition were related to more equitable suspension practices. No significant relationships were observed between Lessons and Data Analysis and disciplinary rates or equity. Implications for the research and practice of SWPBIS are discussed, along with connections to other lines of research addressing educational equity.

IRB Determination.pdf (69 kB)
IRB Determination