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First Student’s FirstServes Program Eliminates 27% of Student Behavioral Incidents
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First Student’s FirstServes Program Eliminates 27% of Student Behavioral Incidents

First Student is proud to share the first wave of confirmation that that FirstServes, our ground-breaking school behavior improvement and special needs student support program, is significantly reducing disruptive incidents on school buses. Our brand-new data show that districts across North America using FirstServes reported a 27% decrease in behavioral incidents last year*. First Student is now offering FirstServes as a standalone product to any district in North America – expanding the program beyond our existing customers for the first time.

Every journey to and from school can affect a student’s experience and learning opportunities. First Student is committed to ensuring the safest and most positive transportation experience for students. And that starts with how we train our drivers and attendants.

Drivers not only have to manage road safety, timeliness of routes, and ensure safe transportation — often they are called on to respond to student behavior and provide additional support wherever its needed. They play a huge role in a student’s daily life, which is why we developed FirstServes. This toolkit and support system creates potential for transportation staff and districts alike: preparing those behind the wheel of a school bus for anything that comes their way.

At First Student, we are at the forefront of student transportation, facilitating more school trips than any other organization globally, with nearly 1 billion trips completed each year. The stakes are high, and we are in a position to help. That’s why our solution enables school districts to reduce incidents during transportation and enhance the overall school experience.

FirstServes is a first-of-its-kind program that truly works.
FirstServes provides drivers and attendants with behavior mitigation and de-escalation skills to better manage the school bus experience, equipping them with the resources they need to prevent, or if necessary, resolve incidents that take place on the bus. The program is centered around providing students with positive interventions and supports that impact behavior. It also gives staff additional resources to support special needs students’ unique needs in their journey to school.

As we expand FirstServes to all school districts as a standalone training and development program, we are very excited to bring this program to even more communities.

The Results: FirstServes has Measurable Impact
FirstServes was implemented in select school districts during the 2022/2023 school year and immediately affected positive behavioral outcomes. Compared to the previous school year (2021/2022), data collected through FirstActs, First Student’s proprietary digital behavior incident reporting system, shows a 27% decrease in behavioral incidents. 

FirstActs empowers drivers and attendants to easily record incidents as they occur, which are then shared with school districts. This communication provides school districts and First Student actionable information that prompts adjustments to increase the effectiveness and enhance the experience for all students.

Expanding the Impact: FirstServes Now Available to Students Across North America
The success of FirstServes has prompted First Student to extend its impact beyond simply the districts where First Student is the contracted transportation provider. Recognizing the transformative potential of this training, the company has decided to make it available to all school districts as a stand-alone option. This decision reflects a commitment to contributing positively to the broader educational community by sharing insights and practices that have proven successful within their own operations.

By making FirstServes accessible to non-customers, First Student aims to deliver improved safety and enhanced behavioral support on school buses nationwide. The hope is that this innovative training will become a standard, setting a new benchmark for the industry in prioritizing the well-being and safety of students during their daily commute.

The Landscape: Student Behavior is Becoming More Challenging
A recent survey by Education Week reveals that one-third of educators have observed a significant increase in student misbehavior compared to the period before the Covid-19 pandemic. This study also underscores the detrimental effects of student behavior on both motivation and morale, noting that 80% of educators perceive a decline in student motivation since the pandemic began.

The studies show it – and we’ve seen it. With a substantial portion of this misbehavior occurring during bus rides, we know the negative impact such incidents have on the wellbeing of students, the misbehaving student and his/her classmates. A negative bus ride can affect students’ motivation to learn, and our mission mis to deliver kids to school, ready to achieve their full potential.

An Innovative Approach: FirstServes was Developed With Experts
FirstServes is a specialized training and support initiative created by First Student in partnership with child psychologists and foremost authorities on child behavior and special education. This program emphasizes behavior prevention and de-escalation techniques, providing an extensive training curriculum and intervention resources for school bus drivers and attendants. Its primary objective is to furnish transportation personnel with the necessary knowledge, skills, and tools to understand, de-escalate, and avert behaviors that might occur during the ride. This training is conducted by both education and transportation safety experts and provides at least 2 hours of additional training for each driver and attendant. Upon completing this training, drivers and attendants are properly equipped with the tools they need to deliver a safe ride and an improved experience for students. 

In addition to training on-vehicle staff, the program provides training to support staff like dispatchers, transportation managers to empower them to reinforce the training and procedures throughout the operation. Educational research shows that when leadership reinforcement is added to training effectiveness increases by 70%. The FirstServes program provides skills, resources and support to ensure effectiveness and continuity.

A Tailored Approach: Options to Meet Your District’s Needs
FirstServes provides three service tiers allowing school districts to tailor the program to their specific needs and budget, ensuring students arrive at school ready to succeed academically and personally. These tiers offer comprehensive solutions, including a mix of online and instructor-led leadership training, strategic planning, on-site support, specialized training for student needs, responding to student behavior, and de-escalation techniques. Higher tiers grant access to additional online resources like behavior interventions, a referral system, and resources for parents and staff, aiming to enhance leadership skills and ensure team members are well-prepared for effective leadership and positive student interactions.

Support When You Need It: More Than Just Training
The FirstServes training is supported by an advisory board of nationally recognized experts with backgrounds that range from behavioral psychology, special education and human resource development. The board continuously develops and delivers research in trauma-informed training, facilitates training for local leaders and consults on a case-by-case basis for unique behavioral issues districts using the program may face. The support of the advisory board is a unique resource for districts who implement FirstServes. It ensures that the program provided to staff and students is utilizing strategies from the most up to date research, and provides important problem solving support for navigating unique circumstances. 

The early success of FirstServes stands as a testament to the power of collaboration, innovation, and a commitment to the welfare of students. As the program continues to make strides in reducing negative behaviors, its expansion to other school districts promises to create a lasting impact on the landscape of school bus safety and student well-being across the country.