ST. CLOUD - Four schools in the St. Cloud area school district were honored by the Minnesota Department of Education on Wednesday.

Oak Hill Community School, Apollo High School, Talahi Community School and Westwood Elementary School were among 36 schools recognized for their work using the positive behavioral intervention and supports (PBIS) program.

PBIS is a data-driven program that provides districts and schools in Minnesota with training and support to promote improvement in student behavior, especially for students with challenging social behaviors.

Westwood and Oak Hill have now received recognition for the past two years.

Since being launched in 2005, the program has been put in by 523 Minnesota schools, or 27 percent of the state's nearly 2,000 schools.

To establish a PBIS program, 80 percent of a school's teachers and staff need to agree to put in a more positive approach to discipline. Participating schools then receive intensive professional development, including instruction in how to monitor and track results.

Participating schools have shown evidence in a reduced number of behavioral incidents, fewer student suspensions and increased levels of student engagement.