School Discipline

The Role of Federal, State and Local
Policymakers in Advancing School
Discipline Reform
NASBE Annual Conference
The Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City, Arlington, VA
Sunday, July 28, 2013
Advancing School Discipline Policy: From
Research to Policy
David Osher, Ph.D.
American Institutes for Research
NASBE Annual Conference
The Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City, Arlington, VA
Sunday, July 28, 2013
• School and classroom climate can affect conditions for
learning and through that attendance and learning
• Discipline practices can either enhance or harm conditions of
• We know enough about what to do and what to avoid in
discipline policies and practices to improve conditions for
Thought Experiment: Is the Problem the
Fish, The Water, or Both?
School Climate
• Product of:
• Intentional and unintentional behaviors of all members of the
school community – individually and collectively
• Immediate and historical
• E.g., impact of school history and rituals
• Explicit and implicit
• Norms
• What is taken for granted
• Affects and is affected by how people behave
Conditions for Learning
• Aspects of climate that are closest to attendance, learning,
achievement, graduation
• Emotional and Physical Safety
• E.g. Chicago and Virginia research
• Connection, Respect, and Support
• NELS Data
• Engagement & Challenge
• Peer and Adult Social and Emotional Competence
Affect of Discipline on Climate &
Conditions for Learning
• Safety
• Fear: "They don’t shout at me here”
• Alienation: perception of profiling and favoritism
• Students feel less safe in schools with high numbers of
• Connection
• Exclusionary vs. inclusionary discipline
• Relationship based discipline
Affect of Discipline on Climate &
Conditions for Learning
• Challenge & Engagement
• A focus on external discipline breaks the “vector” of learning
• Reduced instructional time and opportunities to learn
• > Falling further behind in class
• -> More problems
• Reduced Motivation
• Peer & Adult Social & Emotional Competency
• Modeling of power and lack of emotional control
• Focus on compliance (when observed) vs. Self-Discipline
What We Can Do
• Collect climate data and use for planning and monitoring
• E.g., Cleveland
• See: National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments
• High behavioral and academic expectations
• High levels of support for students and teachers to meet
these expectations
• Employ a three-tiered approach that aligns academic and
social and emotional support
Work at Three Levels
Provide Individualized
Intensive Supports
Provide coordinated, intensive,
sustained, culturally competent,
individualized, child- and family- driven
and focused services and supports that
address needs while building assets.
Intervene Early &
Provide Focused Youth
Development Activities
Implement strategies and
provide supports that address
risk factors and build protective
factors for students at risk for
severe academic or behavioral
Build a Schoolwide Foundation
Universal prevention and youth development
approaches, caring school climate, positive and proactive
approach to discipline, personalized instruction, cultural
competence, and strong family involvement.
What To Do: Focus on Prevention
What We Can Do
• Universal
• Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)
• E.g., IL and KA SEL Standards
• Effects on Social Competence, Behavior, & Achievement
• Positive Behavioral Supports and Interventions (PBIS)
• E.g., Maryland and L.A.
• E.g., Garfield High School
• Community Building Activities such as Class Meetings
• Professional Development for Adults
What We Can Do
• Early Intervention
Effective use of Warning Signs
Functional Behavioral Assessment
Planning Centers
Restorative Circles
Student Support Teams
• Intensive Intervention
Effective mental health services
Special Education
Wraparound Supports
Restorative Justice
What Does Not Work
What Does Not Work
• Reaction rather than Prevention
• Lectures
• Punishment
• E.g., Research on:
• Vandalism
• Scared Straight
• Boot Camps
• Interagency Working Group on
• National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments
• The National Evaluation and Technical Assistance Center for
the Education of Children and Youth Who Are Neglected,
Delinquent, or At Risk ( NDTAC ) -
• National Clearing House on Safe and Supportive School
Discipline (coming soon)
Snapshot of Maryland Education
Local School Systems
African American
Special Education12.0%
Ltd. English Proficient
Preparing World-Class
Maryland State Board of Education
Links to Key Documents/Work in Progress
• Maryland Board Documents on Student Discipline and Long
Term Suspensions
• School Discipline and Academic Success: Related Parts of
Maryland’s Education Reform
• School Discipline Regulations Workgroup
• Best Practices Workgroup
• Code of Conduct Workgroup
Anne Arundel County Public Schools
Anne Arundel County Public Schools
Federal Guidelines and State Policy
State and Local Policy
• How can State Boards of Education address assist in the
Supportive School Discipline Initiative which addresses the
“school to prison pipeline” and the disciplinary policies and
practices that can push students out of school and into the
criminal justice system?
State and Local Policy
• Know your State data
• Identify the school districts in your state that show significant
disparities in the data and provide support to identified
• Know the role of State Education Attorneys regarding
compliance issues
State and Local Policy
 Know your State data – available at –
Data from the Office of Civil Rights
 Look at data from your own Department
 Look at data from other state agencies
 The Department of Public Safety
 The Department of Corrections
 The Board of Parole
 The Department of Public Health
 Example: The Iowa Division of Criminal and Juvenile Justice
Planning offers statistics on juveniles in relation to criminal
 Better information = better policies
State and Local Policy
• Identify the school districts in your state that show significant
disparities in the data.
• Use district specific data to guide your support.
• Suspensions, expulsions, corporal punishment, arrests and
disciplinary alternative schools
• Information on school climate, such as truancy, stability, and
attendance rates, and parent/student/teacher surveys
• Disaggregated by race, gender, special education and
socioeconomic status, and English proficiency
State and Local Policy
 Review disciplinary policies (Use of Code of Conduct vs.
 Provide model good discipline practices to foster safe and
productive learning environments in every classroom.
 Offer federal best practices (Oakland Unified SD & Meridian)
 Provide positive behavioral interventions and supports
 Communicate with the districts and facilitate the
implementation of these practices.
 When it comes to facilitation – Look at cultural competence
and achievement gap issues.
 Provide proper training to staff
 Provide support and research on the relationship of school
discipline and academic achievement – research shows
punitive discipline harms academic achievement.
State and Local Policy
 Know the role of state education attorneys and how they can
be instrumental in helping state boards support districts to
ensure they meet federal guidelines as it pertains to school
 Responsible for responding to OCR regarding a complaint of
non-compliance for failure of the State to monitor a local
districts actions
 The State oversees compliance with federal laws and
 Can help implement a plan of action for compliance for the
 State boards may have different oversight abilities – check with
your State Education Attorney regarding your authority.
State and Local Policy
Nicole M. Proesch,
Legal Counsel, Office of the Director,
Iowa Department of Education
Phone: (515) 281-8661