Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Katharine Shepherd


AbstractOver the last 25 years, there has been an increased body of research on best practices to address the social, emotional, and behavioral well-being of all students in schools. Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) has consistently demonstrated effectiveness in attending to all students’ social, emotional, and behavioral wellbeing – including students with disabilities (Simonsen et al., Feb., 2020). Despite PBIS being implemented in over 27,000 schools in the United States (Horner & Sugai, 2015) and in over 50% of schools Vermont, minimal research has been conducted on the experiences of special educators and their perceptions of PBIS practices on outcomes for students with disabilities (Stormont & Reinke, 2012; Shuster et al., 2017). In Vermont, there are currently no data on how special educators perceive the impact of universal PBIS implementation efforts on the very students with whom they work. This quantitative study explored the perceptions of special educators in four school districts in Vermont and the extent to which students with disabilities are included in universal PBIS.

Findings from this study suggest that fidelity of implementation matters, and when special educators self-report that they implement PBIS with high rates of fidelity, the involvement and participation of students with disabilities increase. While there was a strong relationship found between special educators’ involvement in PBIS readiness activities and the perception that universal PBIS is beneficial for students with disabilities, these results were not significant. Furthermore, findings suggest that there is no relationship between the participation of students with disabilities in universal PBIS and 1) number of years of experience as a special educator, 2) gender, and 3) disability category, in particular, emotional disturbance. The study’s results offer recommendations that may be implemented at the local, state, and national contexts.



Number of Pages

133 p.