Understanding Program-Wide Implementation of the Pyramid Model

Program-wide implementation of the Pyramid Model refers to a systemic effort within a program for Pyramid Model implementation fidelity. In program-wide implementation, a leadership team guides the implementation process and develops the supports and infrastructure needed to ensure that implementation of the Pyramid Model can occur within the classrooms and services provided to children and their families. The Leadership Team, with representation from program administrators and practitioners, is focused on the ongoing process of supporting the implementation of the Pyramid Model and using data-based decision-making to guide implementation efforts and monitor outcomes. Program-wide implementation might also be called Program-Wide Positive Behavior Intervention and Support (PW-PBIS), Early Childhood Positive Behavior Support (EC-PBS) or a Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) to address social, emotional, and behavioral needs (see this fact sheet on PBIS and the Pyramid Model for more information about terminology).

The program-wide implementation model ensures that programs are attending to both the implementation of evidence-based practices and the development of the infrastructure to support the durable implementation of those practices. Programs that have used this approach have experienced the following:

  • Reductions in child challenging behavior
  • Increases in children’s social skills
  • Increased satisfaction of program staff and families
  • Reduced turnover in the program
  • Increases in teachers competence and confidence in the support of children
  • Changes in classroom and program climate
  • Sustained implementation of the Pyramid Model

Components of the Program-Wide Approach

  • Leadership Team
    The leadership team meets monthly and guides the implementation of the program-wide approach. The team is comprised of a program administrator, representation from the teaching staff, an individual who can provide coaching and support to teachers, the individual who serves as a behavior specialist (some individuals might fill more than one of these roles), and a family member. The team ensures that a system is developed to provide individualized behavior supports to children with challenges, professional development and support to teachers, a plan for family engagement, and uses data to make decisions as they guide implementation.
  • Staff Buy-In
    All staff become involved in the model (e.g., cook, teaching assistant, and teachers) and must agree that they are willing to participate. The leadership team monitors and supports staff buy-in on an ongoing basis.
  • Family Engagement
    A variety of mechanisms are used to establish partnerships with families in the implementation of the model by establishing collaborative partnerships with families, sharing information, providing families with information and support in guiding children’s development of social and emotional skills, and collaboratively teaming to support individual children. 
  • Program-Wide Expectations
    The adoption of program-wide expectations provides a shared focus and shared language for describing behavior expectations to children, staff, and families. Program-wide expectations are posted in the program and classrooms and are provided to families. Staff acknowledge engagement in the expectations by providing developmentally appropriate feedback and reinforcement to children.
  • Classroom Implementation of the Pyramid Model
    Teachers are individually assessed using a fidelity observation tool and then action planning occurs to identify goals for supporting teachers in reaching fidelity criteria.
  • Staff Professional Development and Support Plans
    All staff must have the training and coaching/support needed to effectively implement the Pyramid practices. The leadership team also develops strategies to provide ongoing support to staff as they implement the model.
  • Behavior Support Procedures
    The leadership team develops policies and procedures for providing support to staff to address challenging behavior. This includes providing a mechanism for support in crisis situations, developing a problem solving process for children with emerging challenges, and providing a system for identifying children who need a behavior support plan developed through a team driven process.
  • Data-Based Decision-Making
    Data-based decision-making is a pivotal component of the program-wide approach. The team will gather and review data on implementation and outcomes using tools provided by the Center. 

Considerations and What’s Involved

What are Considerations for Selecting Sites for Program-Wide Implementation? 

  • Willing to serve as an exemplar in the state of high fidelity implementation of the Pyramid Model
  • Must be considered a high quality program by meeting program standards (e.g., NAEYC, DEC, Head Start, QRIS)
  • Will be guided by a leadership team that is invested in the model (e.g., program administrator and selected staff)
  • Must have access to an internal coach whose role is to build the capacity of practitioners in the program
  • Must have access to behavior support for children with persistent challenging behavior through an internal person on their team, mental health consultant, or behavior specialist
  • Willing to change policies, procedures, family engagement, teacher support, and professional development practices for implementation fidelity and sustainability
  • Willing to host other programs and personnel who wish to see/learn more about the Pyramid Model

What is Involved in the Program-Wide Implementation Process?

  • The Leadership team will attend a multiple day training on program‐wide implementation to develop their implementation plan
  • Staff in the program receive training on the Pyramid Model and coaching for implementation within their classrooms
  • A coach receives training on the use of Practice-Based Coaching and how to support staff as they begin Pyramid Model implementation
  • A behavior specialist receives training on how to guide the individualized, intensive intervention process
  • The majority of staff (80%) agree that they want to be a part of program-wide implementation, although the program might begin their efforts in a few classrooms initially
  • The program collects ongoing data on program implementation and outcomes, coaching implementation and outcomes, and child implementation and outcomes

Frequently Asked Questions

Practical Strategies for Implementing the Pyramid Model

The Pyramid Model is comprised of practices that are implemented by teachers and families.  Below are ideas, resources, and illustrations of strategies that might be used to implement Pyramid Model practices and promote young children’s social and emotional competence.