Connecticut Appleseed’s 2011 report entitled “Keep Kids in School: Improving School Discipline” addressed the pathway commonly termed the “school-to-prison pipeline”. Our widely-distributed report helped to redirect school districts’ disciplinary policies toward retention and away from suspension and expulsion.
Connecticut’s school districts have worked hard since the legislature mandated implementation of in-school suspension for the vast majority of disciplinary infractions in mid-2010. While Appleseed’s 2011 research surfaced impressive progress toward that goal even before the deadline, we were eager for a chance to revisit our analysis and dig more deeply.
Thanks largely to pro bono attorney assistance from Morgan, Lewis & Bockius’ Hartford office, in late 2017 we began distributing copies of a sequel to our 2011 “Keep Kids in School: Improving School Discipline” report at the annual convention of Connecticut school superintendents and school board members. “Keep Kids in School: Improving School Discipline II” is now posted here for wider public distribution.
This 2017 sequel was prompted by a request from a Bloomfield Assistant Superintendent for a follow-up study to search further for Best Practices that could explain the continuing district success in improving school climate. Connecticut Appleseed’s sequel is similar to our 2011 report by showcasing and popularizing additional disciplinary practices that have proven to be most successful in cutting down on suspensions, expulsions, and bullying, while positively affecting retention, graduation rate and academic successes.
But importantly, the interviews reflected in our 2017 report found that many schools have gone beyond just implementing in-school suspension as a way to reduce more serious forms of punishment and have moved to a more holistic model of behavior management. What is most telling about the more recent progress is that schools are taking steps beyond just reducing the use of out-of-school suspension and expulsion. Overwhelmingly, the schools interviewed acknowledged that one of the key drivers of success is that teachers are being trained to focus on connecting positively with students, communicating shared expectations and goals, and working with school administrators and parents to intervene early with students displaying behavioral challenges in the classroom.
Once again, the CT Dept. of Education provided all the relevant disciplinary data. Disciplinary incidents that must be reported to the state include all offenses resulting in in-school suspension, out-of-school suspension or expulsion, as well as all “serious” offenses involving alcohol, drugs or weapons.