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St. Louis Public Schools Continue Efforts to Reduce Disruptive Disciplinary Practices

St. Louis Public Schools Continue Efforts to Reduce Disruptive Disciplinary Practices

Several schools in the St. Louis Public Schools district are reporting sweeping behavioral improvements in students after implementing the school culture system Kickboard last year.

The school district announced today it will be expanding Kickboard to 25 new schools within the district in hopes they, too, will see dramatic changes that reform how they handle discipline.

Specifically, Kickboard said in a statement that pilot schools significantly reduced often-times disruptive disciplinary practices like office referrals, detentions and suspensions.

In pilot schools like "Carver Elementary, the number of office referrals dropped from 250 per week to only 35 per week — an 86 percent decrease. Farragut Elementary recorded an 84 percent decline in recess detentions, and a 64 percent drop in suspensions. Lyon Academy saw a 79 percent decrease in referrals to the school’s reflection room. At Patrick Henry Downtown Academy, the number of suspensions fell from 48 in 2015 to only seven in 2016," Kickboard said.

The pilot schools’ leaders said they found success thanks to the positive behavior reinforcement tools, intervention management, classroom management, and district-wide school culture analysis provided to them through Kickboard’s features.

"Instead of looking only at suspension rates and attendance, we’re now looking at data such as the ratio of positive to negative behaviors in the classroom or in a school. Having that data available helps us align our thinking around the culture and the behaviors we want to see in our classrooms. It allows us to look at each child holistically, so we can provide targeted support to meet the needs of our students, teachers, leaders and schools," said David Hardy, deputy superintendent of academics for SLPS in a statement.

"Our students and staff are truly invested in our partnership with Kickboard and in the results we’re achieving," he said.

Reducing outdated disciplinary practices has become a national push lately as research continuously shows that practices like suspensions and expulsions negatively impact student learning and even contribute to the vicious cycle of the school-to-prison pipeline.

Schools have, as a result, been on the search for alternative disciplinary practices, like practices that align with restorative justice, to maintain order while not disrupting learning.

St. Louis has been working to reform its disciplinary practices for years. In October, Superintendent Kelvin Adams spoke to St. Louis Public Radio about the district’s decision to ban suspensions for students in preschool through second grade.

"It forced us as a district to acknowledge that we had a problem. Secondly [it forced] me as a superintendent to find resources to support schools and force principals to come up with different kinds of strategies to support kids in that building. I think it really changed everybody's mindset around what needs to be done to support the kid," he said of the change.

The suspension ban for early learners in addition to the hiring of support staff members and funding for more research from the Department of Education have helped St. Louis school leaders accomplish their goals of reducing suspensions.

The adoption of a school culture system, in other words, is just one step of many the district is using to implement change.

Read more about Kickboard's use in St. Louis schools here.

Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor

11/30/2016

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