School Discipline Consensus Project

Supporting Schools to Improve Students’ Engagement and Juvenile Justice Outcomes


Millions of U.S. public school students in grades K-12 are suspended or expelled in an academic school year, particularly students in middle and high school. Research demonstrates that when students are removed from the classroom as a disciplinary measure, the odds increase dramatically that they will repeat a grade, drop out, or become involved in the juvenile justice system. These negative consequences disproportionately affect children of color as well as students with special needs. Policymakers and practitioners have a growing need to identify strategies for effectively managing students’ behavior and aligning schools’ policies in order to support student engagement and learning, and reduce poor academic outcomes and juvenile justice contact. Although some states and local governments have taken promising steps to address these issues, decision makers and front-line practitioners lack a comprehensive, multisystem approach to making school discipline more effective.

In response, the Council of State of Governments (CSG) Justice Center is launching a national consensus-building project that will convene experts in such fields as school safety, behavioral health, education, juvenile justice, social services, law enforcement, and child welfare. Youth, parents, and community partners will also play a critical and active role in the project to develop creative solutions.

The project will result in a comprehensive report that provides implementation guidance to minimize the dependence on suspension and expulsion to manage student behaviors, improve students’ academic outcomes, reduce their involvement in the juvenile justice system, and promote safe and productive learning environments.

The project is administered in coordination with the Supportive School Discipline Initiative launched by the U.S. Attorney General and the U.S. Secretary of Education in July 2011 and is supported by a public/private partnership that includes the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, NoVo Foundation, The California Endowment, and The Atlantic Philanthropies.

Project Engagement

Multidisciplinary advisory groups have been convened to identify key issues related to academic success, juvenile justice concerns, and safe and engaging learning environments. Drawing on research, promising practices from across the country, and the expertise and experience of individuals affected by school disciplinary measures, these groups will reach agreement on recommended policies and practices that will make the most effective use of multiple systems’ resources.

The project team has also held focus groups and listening sessions with youth and professionals from various disciplines to ensure that all perspectives and voices are heard in developing recommendations for keeping children in the classroom and out of the juvenile justice system whenever possible.

To learn more about the large group convenings, click here.



Discipline Disparity Briefing Papers Released

With support from The Atlantic Philanthropies and the Open Society Foundations, the Discipline Disparities Research-to-Practice Collaborative released three briefing papers that provide new research and recommendations to reduce or eliminate profound disparities in school discipline.

Press Releases

Juvenile Justice, Law Enforcement, School and Health Professionals Join Other Experts and Stakeholders to Forge Consensus on School Disciplinary Policies

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center convened this week a group of more than 100 policymakers, national experts, educators, law enforcement and court officials, health professionals, students, parents and others committed to improving school disciplinary policies. The diverse, bipartisan national group commenced work on consensus-based recommendations for approaches to school discipline that keep kids in school and out of the juvenile justice system while providing a safe, positive learning environment.

Majority of Texas Middle and High School Students Suspended or Expelled: Repeated Suspensions Predict Later Involvement in Juvenile Justice System

NEW YORK—In an unprecedented study of nearly 1 million Texas public secondary school students followed for more than six years, nearly 60 percent were suspended or expelled, according to a report released today by the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center in partnership with the Public Policy Research Institute of Texas A&M University.


Dignity in Schools

Accountability Guidelines on School Pushout and Charter Schools

The guidelines from the Dignity in Schools Campaign encourage all schools that receive public funding to implement best practices that will help dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline through inclusive and positive school discipline practices.

American Bar Association

Foster Care and Education

This issue brief from the Legal Center for Foster Care and Education explains how federal guidance from the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice on school discipline can be implemented to help improve outcomes for children in foster care.

Climate Change: Improving School Climate by Supporting Great Teaching

Climate Change: Improving School Climate by Supporting Great Teaching

Citing that teachers do not always have the preparation and support they need to develop engaging and effective learning environments, this report offers several federal-, state-, and local-level policy recommendations intended to facilitate a positive school climate.

Media/News Coverage

For More Teens, Arrests by Police Replace School Discipline

Prompted by changing police tactics and a zero-tolerance attitude toward small crimes, authorities have made more than a quarter of a billion arrests over the past 20 years, the Federal Bureau of Investigation estimates.

The Economic Impact of School Discipline

A recent report from the National Woman’s Law Center and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund highlights findings that show African American pre-K–12 female students were suspended at six times the rate of white female students during the 2011–12 academic year, more than any other group of girls (and several groups of boys).

Program Changes Culture of School Discipline

Four years ago Waco Independent School District in Texas piloted a program to try and reduce the number of discipline referrals and suspensions of students—and it’s helped some schools change the entire way they look at discipline.

This report is a product of the School Discipline Consensus Project, a component of the Supportive School Discipline Initiative of the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice.