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Core Constructs of Equity in PBIS: Equity/PBIS Crosswalk

The Core Constructs of Educational Equity listed below were developed by the Midwest and Plains Equity Assistance Center (Keyser & Skelton, 2019). Ruthie L. Payno-Simmons leveraged these equity constructs along with the PBIS Big Ideas to create the Equity/PBIS Crosswalk. (Payno-Simmons, 2021).

Beneath the Core Constructs and PBIS Big Ideas, you will see examples and non-examples of the Core Constructs in action, crosswalked with the applicable PBIS Big Ideas in parentheses. We hope this gives you an idea of how the Equity/PBIS Crosswalk can be used to help you ensure equity within your school’s PBIS implementation. We’d love to hear examples of how your school puts the core constructs of equity into action. Please contact Amy Wheeler-Sutton at [email protected] to share.

Additional PBIS-related equity resources can be found at the VTPBIS Equity Resources page.


Core Constructs of Equity

All students have entrance into, involvement with, and full benefit of quality learning opportunities. (Paris, 2012)

Having presence in decision-making and content. (Mulligan and Kozleski, 2009)

Meaningful Participation 
All students have agency and are empowered to contribute in effectual ways. (Fraser, 1998)

High Outcomes 
Solutions benefit all students towards self-determination and the ability to act as contributing citizens in a democratic society and global community. (Waitoller & Kozleski, 2013)


PBIS Big Ideas

  • Positively-stated school-wide behavior expectations
  • Procedures for teaching expected behaviors
  • Procedures for acknowledging positive behavior
  • Procedures for addressing behavior concerns through a continuum of supports
  • Data-based decision-making


Consider the strengths and needs of your school’s PBIS implementation in relation to the Core Constructs of Educational Equity and PBIS Big Ideas

How do all students have entrance into, involvement with, and full benefit of quality learning opportunities offered and supported by PBIS implementation?


  • Caregivers/parents and students are given opportunities to examine and give feedback on school-wide expectations to ensure that they reflect the values and norms of the community every year. (expectations)
  • Expectations, matrices, and other PBIS student materials are displayed in all home languages, in ways that are understandable to non-readers, easily visible to students of all heights, and are adapted for those with visual impairments. (expectations, teaching)
  • All students report that they receive meaningful, regular reinforcement and specific positive praise in a ratio of at least 4:1 positive to corrective feedback. (acknowledging)
  • All school staff are familiar with and use procedures outlined in the Responding to Behavior Concerns Flowchart to support classroom inclusion to the greatest degree possible. (addressing)
  • What are some examples from your school?


  • Individual teachers or teams choose not to implement all components of PBIS with fidelity. (expectations, teaching, acknowledging, addressing, data)
  • Students must earn and/or can lose the privilege of participating in school-wide celebrations. (teaching, acknowledging)
  • Individualized plans for students in need of intensive supports do not include access to universal, school-wide procedures for acknowledging positive behavior. (acknowledging)

How do PBIS-related decision-making and content incorporate student, caregiver/parent, and staff voices, particularly those that are currently or historically underrepresented?


  • The PBIS team includes broad representation of staff, students, and caregivers/parents. The PBIS team ensures that students, caregivers/parents, and staff actively participate in on-going decision-making about expectations, acknowledgement systems, and behavior definitions. (expectations, teaching, acknowledging, addressing, data)
  • Students are involved with the development and delivery of universal lessons.  (teaching)
  • Visual representations of diversity are included in PBIS-related images (i.e. posters, slides, videos, etc.). (teaching)
  • What are some examples from your school?


  • Administrator or non-representative, staff-only Universal team makes decisions regarding PBIS implementation without actively seeking and considering student and caregiver/parent voice. (expectations, teaching, acknowledging, addressing, data)
  • Student and caregiver/parent representation on PBIS and student/caregiver/parent voice and input reflects only dominant culture and/or those who are already engaged (e.g. student council or PTA members).  (expectations, teaching, acknowledging, addressing, data)
  • Efforts to engage students and caregivers/parents are dismissed or abandoned when unsuccessful. (expectations, teaching, acknowledging, addressing, data)

Meaningful Participation:
How do all students have agency and how are they empowered to contribute to PBIS implementation in effectual ways?


  • Students actively participate in reviewing the expectations and matrix every year to ensure ongoing effectiveness and fit. (expectations, teaching)
  • PBIS lessons are learning-centered rather than teaching-centered. (teaching)
  • Opportunities for student reflection and restorative relationship-building are embedded across the continuum of responses to concerning behaviors. (addressing)
  • Acknowledgement system encourages student support of one anothers’ positive behaviors. (acknowledging)
  • Student work related to expectations and positive school climate is displayed and shared. (expectations, teaching)
  • Students examine behavior and/or school climate data to identify trends and suggest interventions. (data)
  • What are some examples from your school?


  • Expectations, PBIS lessons, and acknowledgements are developed and delivered without input and feedback from students. (expectations, teaching, acknowledging)
  • PBIS lessons do not include opportunities for active learning and practice. (teaching)
  • Implementation focuses on compliance rather than on understanding why, when, and how to demonstrate behavior expectations. (expectations, teaching, acknowledging, addressing)

High Outcomes:
How do solutions provided by PBIS implementation benefit all students towards self-determination and the ability to act as contributing citizens in a democratic society and global community?


  • All students are taught and given feedback, support, and opportunities to practice expected behaviors until they are able to demonstrate them with fluency. (teaching, acknowledging)
  • Staff provide more frequent and immediate specific positive praise for expected behaviors when students are having difficulty meeting the expectations. (acknowledging)
  • A preventive approach to concerning behaviors includes the expectation that school staff will provide engaging and differentiated instruction, modification of environment, and effective classroom behavior practices to promote success of all students. (acknowledging, addressing)
  • Data is disaggregated to identify and rectify inequities in student success and achievement through systems-level changes. (data)
  • PBIS team ensures that there are no disparities in access to each of the tiers of support. (data)
  • PBIS team asks critical questions when discipline disparities are identified: Why are these inequities happening? What evidence-based practices/strategies can address this discipline inequity? Are these equity practices/strategies narrowing our discipline disparities? (Payno-Simmons, 2020) (data)
  • What are some examples from your school?


  • Universal practices and supports result in a less than 80% success rate for students. (expectations, teaching, acknowledging, addressing)
  • School staff expects students to “code switch” (i.e. change their way of acting/sounding to match the dominant group’s expectations) instead of considering how a student’s behavior can be supported as is. (expectations, teaching, acknowledging, addressing)
  • When disaggregated data indicates disproportionality, school staff and stakeholders consider it a student, caregiver/parent, or cultural issue. (data)



Kyser, T. S., & Skelton, S. M. (2019). The Fundamentals of Educational Equity. Equity Digest, 2(3), 1-3. Retrieved September 26, 2021, from

Payno-Simmons, R. (2020, February 11). 5 Questions Every Team Should Ask About Racial Disproportionality. PBIS Apps. Retrieved September 26, 2021, from

Payno-Simmons, R. (2021). Centering equity in school discipline: the Michigan PBIS Equity Pilot. Preventing School Failure: Alternative Education for Children and Youth, 65:4, 343-353,