School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy in Education (PhD)


Rebecca Lunde

Primary Subject Area

Education, General


PBIS, students with disabilities, Georgia Milestones Assessment, academic achievement


Education | Special Education and Teaching


PBIS was designed to be a framework, not a curriculum or one size fits all plan, to address the behavioral and academic needs of students with disabilities. PBIS has deep roots in behaviorism theory mirroring many aspects of Applied Behavior Analysis. The PBIS framework embraces concepts from E. L. Thorndike’s, Law of Effect and B. F. Skinner’s, Operant Conditioning to teach the behaviors necessary to ensure high-quality, uninterrupted classroom instruction. This research study is important to any school system or administration that have students with disabilities and face classroom behavioral issues that interfere with classroom instruction. The purpose of this quantitative, causal-comparative design study is to gain an understanding of the relationship between PBIS and student academic achievement amongst students with disabilities in grades three through seven on the end-of-the-year high-stakes assessment, the Georgia Milestones Assessment in the content areas of ELA and math. A convenience sample was taken from two rural elementary and middle schools in South Georgia. The student population sample of 688 students was made up of students from the six ethnic groups: American Indian, Asian, Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, and White. Both school systems were deemed as Title I with one hundred percent of students receiving free and reduced meals. Data was analyzed using independent sample t tests to compare the means of the sample outcomes. Research data resulted in statistically significant differences in ELA scores for students with medical disabilities and for math scores for students with cognitive and medical disabilities during the 2015-2019 post-implementation school years. There were no significant statistical differences for ELA scores for students with cognitive or medical disabilities nor with math scores for cognitive disabilities for the pre-implementation year of 2014-2015. Further research is needed at the high school level for students with disabilities. This research was completed using elementary and middle school age groups.