About 5 years in the past, directors in Kansas Metropolis Unified Faculty District 500 realized they’d an enormous drawback, notably at a number of of the district’s excessive faculties.
In one of many state’s largest, however poorest, districts, not solely had been college students lacking college or class time excessively, however typically, it was an issue of the faculties’ making, since lecturers and directors stored referring college students to the principals’ places of work, the place some college students had been additional despatched dwelling with suspensions.
At one constructing, Schlagle Excessive Faculty, college students had been despatched to the workplace 2,400 occasions, or 2.3 referrals per pupil — a charge greater than 3 times increased than the Kansas common. Greater than 650 college students acquired suspensions, and between the suspensions and workplace referrals, college students had been cumulatively dropping greater than 109,000 minutes of educational time, or 228 days of college.
One thing needed to change.
Making any form of significant change meant altering the district’s strategy to self-discipline, which has historically targeted on punitive measures that too typically take away college students from lecture rooms and trigger them to fall even deeper into tutorial and behavioral holes.
However with a brand new strategy referred to as restorative justice, the faculties quickly discovered that not solely had been college students following guidelines extra carefully, however lecturers additionally improved as college students spent extra time studying and fewer time despatched away from the lecture rooms.
Directors and pupil assist specialists from Kansas Metropolis USD 500 on Tuesday spoke with the Kansas Division of Training in regards to the restorative justice strategy to highschool self-discipline.
Octavio Estrella, assistant director of pupil providers, advised the state college board that the district’s new disciplinary strategy focuses on repairing hurt, constructing wholesome relationships and permitting college students to have a voice in advancing fairness of their faculties.
In Schlagle Excessive Faculty’s case, college interventionist Terry Bigby mentioned the college’s directors discovered that conventional disciplinary measures — like exclusion from college, holding college students again a grade, “scared straight” packages and different punitive measures — had been failing to deal with the underlying points inflicting college students to behave up at school.
“What we had been doing was really driving extra children into legal justice and extra children out of college,” mentioned Bigby.
As a substitute, over the previous a number of years, directors at Schlagle and different faculties in USD 500 researched and applied restorative justice practices, which targeted on constructing cultural and socially responsive college environments, instructing group expectations alongside conventional topics like math and holding college students to these requirements.
The shift in disciplinary strategy did take work, slightly than only a change in mindset, nevertheless. The district’s faculties needed to discover funding to have devoted professionals to guide restorative justice coaching for lecturers and employees, in addition to permitting these staffers skilled growth time to study a totally new strategy to dealing with misbehaving college students.
However the work paid off.
At Schlagle Excessive Faculty, workplace referrals decreased by 52%, suspensions by 42%, main security offenses by 81% and continual absenteeism (or the share of scholars who missed greater than seven days in a semester) by 39%, Bigby mentioned.
Estrella mentioned the disciplinary strategy has labored phenomenally for an city district like Kansas Metropolis USD 500, however it will possibly additionally work properly for some other Kansas district, massive or small.
Board member Ann Mah, D-Topeka, recommended the district for getting college group buy-in on the change in disciplinary strategy. The state schooling division beforehand provided statewide coaching on restorative justice practices however stopped after grant funding for the coaching expired.
Kent Reed, a faculty counseling program advisor for KSDE, mentioned he imagined there’d be vital curiosity in one other restorative justice coaching program if the board had been to fund it once more.
KSDE proclaims Kansans Can recognitions
In different enterprise, the Kansas Division of Training introduced several districts that placed within the schooling company’s first Kansans Can Faculty Recognition Program.
Initially deliberate for spring 2020 bulletins however delayed by the pandemic, the recognitions had been designed to acknowledge Kansas college districts’ success in assembly a number of areas of accomplishment, together with commencement charges, kindergarten-readiness and social-emotional development, amongst different standards set by the state college board to measure excellence.
Faculties had been awarded the recognitions at a number of “medal” ranges, with greater than 100 districts inserting in a minimum of one of many lofty classes.
Commissioner Randy Watson advised the board that the state schooling division deliberately set its requirements excessive, with the purpose to push faculties to repeatedly enhance and attain excellence. Whereas not all districts participated this previous 12 months, particularly with different urgent issues throughout the pandemic, Watson mentioned he expects extra Kansas districts will take part after this system’s inaugural 12 months.
A separate distinction, the Commissioner’s Award, additionally acknowledged college districts that had extra college students obtain post-high college success in comparison with anticipated ranges, primarily based on danger elements akin to variety of college students in poverty or the speed of transient college students.
Fifty-four districts acquired that base award for outperforming expectations by normal deviations, whereas 39 districts acquired the identical award however with honors for beating expectations by multiple normal deviation.
Solely 4 districts — Dighton USD 482, Fairfield USD 310, Frontenac USD 249 and the Diocese of Wichita — acquired the Commissioner’s Award with Highest Distinction for beating anticipated efficiency by greater than two normal deviations.
The board additionally acknowledged 4 college students who had been chosen as both delegates or alternates in representing Kansas as a part of the 2021 U.S. Senate Youth Program.
Yates Heart Excessive Faculty’s Sean-Patrick Hurst and Burlington Excessive Faculty’s Seth Jarvis had been the 2 delegates for the selective program, through which delegates meet with federal legislators and study in regards to the nationwide authorities over the course of per week. Every pupil additionally receives a $10,000 scholarship from The Hearst Foundations, which sponsors this system.
Shawnee Mission East Excessive Faculty’s Charlie Birt and Derby Excessive Faculty’s Sean Wentling had been Kansas’s two alternates.