- Associated Press - Sunday, December 6, 2015

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - Sioux Falls education officials are considering whether to expand an existing program in public schools as educators seek more help handling student behavior problems.

The program called Boys Town teaches students good behavior through lessons interspersed in class time, the Argus Leader (http://argusne.ws/1IJGSdV ) reported. Sioux Falls district elementary special education supervisor Brenda Bernard said more schools are adopting the Boys Town model amid increasing behavior problems.

Ten schools in Sioux Falls have adopted the model, and the district expanded it to four more schools this year after increasing trainers who can show teachers and staff how to use teachable moments with students.

“It empowers students to manage their own behaviors,” Bernard said. “It really focuses on teaching them skills that they don’t have right now.”

Behavior is treated like a learned skill in the Boys Town’s curriculum. Apologizing, accepting “no” as an answer, sharing and listening are all learnable skills, said senior national training consultant Denise Pratt.

“If we have a student who perhaps is disagreeing inappropriately, they argue, they whine, they call names, we simply would teach them how to disagree,” Pratt said.

School board member Doug Morrison said the problem with the program is judging whether it works and should be used districtwide. He said educators need to come up with a way to track progress.

“I think it’s one of the things that’s hard to gauge,” Morrison said. “If you have less (office) referrals . it doesn’t mean your behavior’s going away.”

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Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com

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