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Brandi Simonsen, Ph.D. - University of Connecticut. Storrs, CT, US

Brandi Simonsen, Ph.D.

Professor of Educational Psychology, Co-Director of Center for Behavioral Education and Research | University of Connecticut


Professor Simonsen is an expert in school, classroom, and student positive behavioral interventions and supports.


Professor Simonsen researches school- and class-wide positive behavior interventions and positive and proactive professional development supports for teachers.

Before joining the University of Connecticut, Simonsen was the director of an alternative school serving students with disabilities who presented with challenging educational and behavioral needs. In addition to serving as an administrator and clinician, she has previously been certified as a teacher of elementary general education and middle-secondary special education.

Areas of Expertise (8)

School Discipline

Student Behavior


Behavioral Intervention

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports

Classroom Behavior


School-Wide Behavior Interventions

Education (3)

University of Oregon: Ph.D., Special Education 2002

University of Oregon: M.S., Special Education 1999

William and Mary: B.A., Elementary Education and Psychology 1998



Brandi Simonsen, Ph.D. Publication



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Media Appearances (3)

First-ever report shows half of Wisconsin schools secluded or restrained students last year — some more than 100 times

Wisconsin Rapids Tribune  print


Brandi Simonsen, the co-director of the University of Connecticut's Center for Behavioral Education and Research and the Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, said the new Wisconsin data is an important tool, but that the data shouldn't be used to villainize anyone. Simonsen said schools that neglect to track that kind of data or underreport it are only harming themselves and students. "We should be praising districts that report data honestly, because then it gives them the capacity to change," she said. "It gives them a chance to be honest with themselves, look at what supports are in place and how they can improve."

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Schools are Discouraged from Restraining or Secluding Kids. Both Still Happen in Wisconsin -- But No One Can Say How Often

Post Crescent  online


But at the point of deescalation, it's too late to prevent most children from shifting into a "crisis-level response," said Brandi Simonsen, a professor of special education at the University of Connecticut and co-director of the National Technical Assistance Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports. That's why schools should screen all children and identify as early as possible who may need extra supports, Simonsen says, and who may need a behavior plan to help teachers understand the causes of a student's behavior and teach him or her an acceptable, alternative behavior.

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What Happens When Students With Special Needs Are Secluded Or Restrained In School?



In 2016, more than 120,000 students nationwide were restrained or secluded in school. The vast majority of those students had special needs, according to the most recently available data on school climate and safety. Though there’s been much debate over definitions, restraint most often involves physically holding a child who is exhibiting serious behavior problems whereas seclusion involves isolating them. So, what are the effects of these practices? And when are they actually appropriate? We dive into how local schools are dealing with behavioral issues in the classroom. Plus, education experts join us to discuss tactics for de-escalating tough situations.

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Articles (5)

The Effects of Targeted Professional Development on Teachers’ Use of Empirically Supported Classroom Management Practices

Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions

2019 Teachers receive limited training and support in classroom management, making it incumbent on school leaders to provide efficient and effective professional development supports. We explored the effects of a brief targeted professional development (TPD) approach (brief training, email prompts, and self-management of trained skills) on teachers’ use of three empirically supported classroom management skills (prompts, opportunities to respond [OTR], and specific praise). Using an experimental crossover design, we documented that teachers increased their prompt and specific praise rates while they actively engaged in TPD.

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Effects of Targeted Professional Development on Teachers’ Specific Praise Rates

Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions

2016 Classroom management continues to be a concern for educators, administrators, and policymakers. Although evidence-based classroom management practices exist, teachers often receive insufficient training and support to implement these practices successfully. Schools need reliable and efficient ways to support teachers’ classroom management. This study employed a multiple baseline design across elementary teachers to investigate the effect of targeted professional development (TPD), an efficient approach that incorporated self-management and email prompts, on teachers’ rates of specific praise.

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Ethical and Professional Guidelines for Use of Crisis Procedures

Education and Treatment of Children

2014 The use of crisis procedures, such as seclusion and physical restraint, in U.S. schools has garnered a great deal of national attention, resulting in reports from professional organizations, proposed legislation, and recent recommendations from the . In this paper, we review the recommendations from the U.S. DOE, highlight the need for proactive and positive behavior supports, and propose guidelines for educators and parents to promote the ethical and professional use of crisis procedures.

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Multitiered Support Framework for Teachers’ Classroom-Management Practices: Overview and Case Study of Building the Triangle for Teachers

Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions

2013 Many teachers enter the field without sufficient training in classroom management and continue to experience challenges throughout their careers. Therefore, school-based leaders need a multi-tiered support (MTS) framework to (a) provide training to all teachers in classroom management (Tier 1), (b) identify teachers who require additional assistance (universal screening), (c) support the identified teachers (Tiers 2 and 3), and (d) continue to monitor teachers’ classroom management to adjust (i.e., intensify or fade) supports.

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Evidence-based practices in classroom management: Considerations for research to practice

Education and Treatment of Children

2008 Classroom management is a critical skill area. Teachers should be trained and supported in implementing practices that are likely to be successful; that is, practices that are backed by evidence. The purpose of this paper is to describe the outcomes of a systematic literature search conducted to identify evidence-based classroom management practices.

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