Positive School Discipline for Improved Social and Emotional Health

school children The California Endowment has awarded a two-year grant in the amount of $504,182 to the Children's Institute to promote positive disciplinary practices in Central Valley schools. In partnership with UC Merced’s Central Valley Learning and Leadership Network, technical assistance and oversight will be provided to school districts that are engaged in policy and program enhancements to promote positive school discipline. These districts will implement activities over a twelve-month period designed to transform practices and policies away from punitive disciplinary practices such as suspension and expulsion to more positive, supportive strategies for school climate transformation. As the Endowment recognizes that staying in school is a key milestone on the path to a healthy, successful life for students, they seek to foster teacher and administrator awareness and implementation of positive discipline strategies, such as restorative justice programs, positive behavior supports, and trauma-informed practices.

According to the American Psychological Association (http://www.apa.org/ed/resources/racial-disparities.pdf), “Pervasive ethnic and racial disparities in education follow a pattern in which African American, American Indian, Latinos, and Southeast Asian groups underperform academically, relative to Whites and other Asian Americans. These educational disparities (1) mirror ethnic and racial disparities in socioeconomic status as well as health outcomes and healthcare, (2) are evident early in childhood and persist through the K-12 education, and (3) are reflected in test scores assessing academic achievement, such as reading and mathematics, percentages of repeating one or more grades, drop-out and graduation rates, proportions of students involved in gifted and talented programs, enrollment in higher education, as well as in behavioral markers of adjustment, including rates of being disciplined, suspended, and expelled from schools.”

high school gradsIn light of these disparities, the overall goal of the grant is to increase the number of high school graduates in the Valley by reducing the number of suspensions and expulsions, particularly among youth of color. The overall goal of the grant is to increase graduation rates and improve academic performance in the Valley by reducing the number of suspensions and expulsions, particularly among youth of color, who experience disproportionately higher amounts of punitive discipline practices and who consequently drop out of school at higher rates. It is expected that, as a result of the capacity building efforts supported through the project, racial/ethnic and gender disproportionality in school suspensions and expulsions will decrease in participating Valley school districts.

Participating school districts include:

  • Bakersfield City School District
  • Corcoran Joint Unified School District
  • Kermit Koontz Educational Complex (Fresno County Office of Education)
  • Mendota Unified School District
  • Modesto City Schools
  • Reef-Sunset Unified School District
  • Sierra Unified School District
  • Stockton Unified School District
  • Tulare Joint Union High School District

The Positive School Discipline for Improved Social and Emotional Health grant will allow the Children’s Institute to support these Valley school districts by conducting on-going needs assessments to determine district needs for comprehensive, sustained reform and implementation. This assessment will then inform the creation of a pool of regionally-based technical assistance providers who will assist districts in taking the most effective steps toward sustainable, all-inclusive, positive change in their school discipline policies and practices. Heather Berg (M.A.) has been hired as Project Coordinator to assist with needs assessment, identification of qualified technical assistance providers, and district collaboration and support.

For more information about the project contact Heather Berg at 559-228-2164 or heberg@csufresno.edu.