Educating students in today's schools is an ever-increasing challenge for many teachers due to the growing inclusion of students with diverse learning and behavioral needs (e.g., students with disabilities, special educational needs, students in poverty, migrant students) in general education classrooms. Students exhibit behavioral problems ranging from mild (e.g., off-task behaviours, late arrivals) to severe (e.g., bullying, profanity). Teachers react to persistent learning and behavioral problems with referrals for special education and/or counseling services and thus remove these students from classroom instruction. When students' challenging behavior becomes chronic and severe, schools tend to react with stringent and restrictive consequences (e.g, out-of-school suspensions). Students with chronic problems are more likely to enter a snowballing path of academic disengagement and low academic achievement. Consequently, they face school failure, and early school leaving. School failure and early school leaving are a cumulative long interactive process of certain risk factors (individual, family, school, community). These factors have been associated with the development of maladaptive behavioural patterns and early school leaving (see NESSE, 2010 for further description as these factors are not the central focus here).
European Commission (EC, 2010, 2011a, 2011b) gives high priority to early school leaving; making it a headline target in its two consecutive Strategy plans 2010 and 2020. Tackling school failure and dropout is a stepping-stone towards better opportunities for young people as well as smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. Hence, in Europe 2020 Strategy, the EC has called Member States to orchestrate a comprehensive, systematic approach to preventing and responding to the needs of all pupils. The success of schools as effective learning environments rests in part on establishing a social context that promotes and supports successful academic engagement and positive, and inclusive climate for all students (Barton, 1997; Sugai & Horner, 2008). This project focuses on the design and implementation of school-wide teaching and learning environments that actively teach and promote contextually appropriate social and academic behaviors and prevent the occurrence of disruptive or severe ones.