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.


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.


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.


Education and Interagency Collaboration: A Lifeline for Justice-Involved Youth

Education and Interagency Collaboration: A Lifeline for Justice-Involved Youth

This brief reviews research on education for youth involved in the system, details recent efforts to improve education outcomes for the population, and highlights a school-based transition program that focuses on bridging the education achievement gap for youth involved in the juvenile justice system in the state of Washington.

Media/News Coverage

Nevada Task Force Analyzes How to Improve Juvenile Justice System

Compromised of lawmakers, judges and other officials, the task force wants to create better resources for youth cycling through the juvenile justice system.  Research showed that Nevada has seen a significant drop in the number of youth referred to the system, but a greater proportion of juveniles are receiving supervision, placed into residential centers and the state correctional facility. And services such as substance abuse, mental heath and therapy are not aligned with what youth need.

‘Schools Not Prisons’ Tour Aims to Curb School Discipline, Incarceration

The Schools Not Prisons tour is a free music and art event that encourages young people to call on leaders to spend less money on prisons and more on restorative justice programs in schools. In nearly 40 years, California has built 22 prisons, but only one UC campus, points out the campaign, which is organized by Revolve Impact – an agency that promotes arts-infused activism.

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.