School Discipline Consensus Project

Supporting Schools to Improve Students’ Engagement and Juvenile Justice Outcomes

Overview

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.

Announcements

Coverage of the School Discipline Consensus Report

Coverage of the School Discipline Consensus Report

The Council of State Governments Justice Center (CSG Justice Center) released the School Discipline Consensus Report on June 3. The report generated significant media attention, including articles and op-eds in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times, among others.

Webinars

Improving Outcomes for Young Adults in the Justice System

Improving Outcomes for Young Adults in the Justice System

This webinar focuses on how juvenile and criminal justice policymakers and agency leaders can work to reduce recidivism and improve other outcomes for young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 who are involved in these systems. Presenters discuss young adults’ distinct needs, as well as the limited research available on what works to address these needs, and recommend potential steps that policymakers, juvenile and adult criminal justice agency leaders, researchers, and the field can take to improve outcomes for this group of young people.

Using New Checklists to Assess Juvenile Justice Systems

Using New Checklists to Assess Juvenile Justice Systems

This webinar highlights three checklists focused on reducing juvenile recidivism, which are now available on the CSG Justice Center website. These checklists can help state and local officials assess whether their juvenile justice system’s policies and practices are aligned with the research on “what works” to reduce recidivism, and to identify opportunities for improvement.

Publications

The Continuing Need to Rethink Discipline

The Continuing Need to Rethink Discipline

This report from the White House includes updates about projects launched and local progress made in response to the Administration’s Rethink Discipline efforts. Rethink Discipline was launched as part of President Barack Obama’s My Brothers’ Keeper initiative and aims to support all students and promote a welcome and safe climate in schools.

State and Federal Policy: Incarcerated Youth

State and Federal Policy: Incarcerated Youth

This policy analysis, by the Education Commission of the States, provides descriptive information about incarcerated youth populations, explores their educational challenges, reviews currently enacted state and federal policies designed to address their needs, and provides policy considerations for state governments.

Media/News Coverage

Opinion: Draw from Juvenile Justice System’s Strengths for Better Approaches for Young Adults

During the past decade and a half, the number of young people confined or placed out of the home in the juvenile justice system has been cut in half. While there is still much more progress to be made—the country is still incarcerating far too many young people, particularly young people of color—what is happening in the juvenile justice system stands in stark contrast to the challenges seen in reducing adult imprisonment.

Bills to Reduce School Suspensions, Expulsions Head to Michigan Governor’s Desk

The legislation, approved with overwhelming support, tones down “zero tolerance” policies which require automatic suspension or expulsion for students who commit offenses such as assault or bring a weapon to school. Instead, school administrators would be required to consider factors such as student’s age, disciplinary history, whether the student has a disability, and the seriousness of the violation.


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.