The Atlantic Philanthropies’ School Discipline Reform Portfolio

Children and Youth;Education and Literacy

The Atlantic Philanthropies’ School Discipline Reform Portfolio

This report summarizes findings from a two-year evaluation of The Atlantic Philanthropies’ school discipline reform portfolio. The portfolio, which ran from late 2009 to 2016 and invested over $47 million dollars in 57 grants to 38 different grantees, was created to improve educational outcomes for students by reducing the number of zero tolerance suspensions, expulsions, and arrests in schools, particularly for children of color, and enhancing the use of positive disciplinary practices that keep children in school and engaged in learning. Atlantic set a nationwide goal to reduce school suspensions by one half and reduce discipline disparities by one quarter.

March 2017

Geographic Focus: North America / United States

Civil Rights Suspended: An Analysis of New York City Charter School Discipline Policies

Children and Youth;Education and Literacy

Civil Rights Suspended: An Analysis of New York City Charter School Discipline Policies

Over the past few years, Advocates for Children of New York (AFC) has assisted an increasing number of parents who have contacted them with concerns about charter school suspensions and expulsions. In helping parents with these cases, AFC found that charter school discipline policies were not always readily available.

In this report, AFC sent Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests to the three New York City charter school authorizers and, to the extent possible, charter schools opening in NYC during the 2013-2014 school year seeking, among other things, copies of their discipline policies. Charter schools are required to comply with FOIL requests, and most charter schools responded. From the FOIL responses and charter school websites, AFC was able to review 164 discipline policies from 155 of the 183 charter schools operating in NYC during the 2013-2014 school year. These discipline policies came from large charter school networks as well as from small, independent charter schools.

While charter schools should be able to discipline their students, they must uphold the rights of their students and provide them with a fair discipline process. The Charter Schools Act requires charter school authorizers to ensure that charter applications include discipline policies and procedures that comport with the law. Yet, all three authorizers of New York City charter schools have approved charters for schools that have legally inadequate discipline policies.

February 2015

Geographic Focus: North America-United States (Northeastern)-New York-New York County-New York City

School Discipline Consensus Report: Strategies from the Field to Keep Students Engaged in School and Out of the Juvenile Justice System, The

Children and Youth, Education and Literacy, Prison and Judicial Reform

School Discipline Consensus Report: Strategies from the Field to Keep Students Engaged in School and Out of the Juvenile Justice System, The

Research and data on school discipline practices are clear: millions of students are being removed from their classrooms each year, mostly in middle and high schools, and overwhelmingly for minor misconduct. When suspended, these students are at a significantly higher risk of falling behind academically, dropping out of school and coming into contact with the juvenile justice system. A disproportionately large percentage of disciplined students are youth of color, students with disabilities, and youth who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT).

There is no question that when students commit serious offenses or pose a threat to school safety they may need to be removed from the campus or arrested. Such incidents, however, are relatively rare, and school typically remains the safest place a young person can be during the day. In schools with high rates of suspension for minor offenses, however, students and teachers often feel they are not safe or supported in their learning environment. Trailblazing student and parent groups, advocacy organizations, researchers, professional associations and school districts have raised the visibility of exclusionary discipline practices across the nation. In response, individual schools, districts, and state education systems have implemented research-based approaches to address student misbehavior that hold youth accountable address victims' needs, and effectively improve both student conduct and adult responses These approaches also help keep students engaged in classrooms and out of courtrooms

The federal government has also put a spotlight on these issues. As part of the Supportive School Discipline Initiative, the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice issued joint guidance in January 2014 to assist public elementary and secondary schools in meeting their obligations under federal law to administer student discipline without discriminating on the basis of race, color or national origin. The School Discipline Consensus Report builds on this foundation and breaks new ground by integrating some of the best thinking and innovative strategies from the fields of education, health law enforcement, and juvenile justice. Leaders in these diverse systems agree that local and state governments must not only help schools reduce the number of students suspended, expelled and arrested, but must also provide conditions for learning wherein all students feel safe, welcome, and supported. The central thesis of this comprehensive report is that achieving these objectives requires the combination of a positive school climate, tiered levels of behavioral interventions, and a partnership between education, police, and court officials that is dedicated to preventing youth arrests or referrals to the juvenile justice system for minor school-based offenses.

July 2014

Geographic Focus: North America-United States

Education Policy Impacts: 2007-2014

Education and Literacy, Nonprofits and Philanthropy

Education Policy Impacts: 2007-2014

Communities for Public Education Reform (CPER) is a national funders' collaborative committed to improving educational opportunities and outcomes for students -- in particular

students of color from low-income families -- by supporting community-driven reforms led

by grassroots education organizing groups. A project of NEO Philanthropy, CPER has

engaged 76 local and national fund members, investing $34 million in 140 community groups,

advocacy allies, and national coalitions over the Fund's eight year lifespan.

Powered by multi-year campaigns that involved organizing, advocacy, research, communications, and alliance building, CPER grantees played a key role in securing more than

9 policy wins at the school, district, state and federal level between 2007 and 2014. This

summary of selected wins begins with those achieved at the federal level and follows with

district- and state-level reforms grouped by CPER's six investment sites across the country.

Organizations must remain united to defend these wins, monitor their implementation, and

ensure that policies will stick.

October 2014

Geographic Focus: North America-United States

School Climate: Practices for Implementation and Sustainability

Children and Youth, Education and Literacy

School Climate: Practices for Implementation and Sustainability

The National School Climate Center (NSCC) School Climate Practice Briefs -- Practices for Implementation and Sustainability -- present the latest in research and best practice for effective school climate reform from leading experts. The 11 issues selected to be included in this set of Practice Briefs are based on NSCC's decade-long work with the entire academic community -- teachers, staff, school-based mental health professionals, students and parents -- to improve a climate for learning.

These School Climate Briefs for Implementation and Sustainability focus on both the "what?" - what are the foundational standards, research and measurements of school climate; and the "so what?" - what practices individuals, schools and communities can employ to measure and improve school climate for maximum impacts. We encourage a review of the entire set of Briefs as they demonstrate how school climate aligns with current opportunities and challenges schools face to ensure quality, safe, equitable and engaging environments for students and adults.

March 2013

Geographic Focus: North America-Canada

Out of School and Off Track: The Overuse of Suspensions in American Middle and High Schools

Education and Literacy

Out of School and Off Track: The Overuse of Suspensions in American Middle and High Schools

Analyzing data from over 26,000 U.S. middle and high schools, the report reveals profound disparities in suspension rates when disaggregating data by race/ethnicity, gender, and disability status. The report identifies districts with the largest number of "hotspot" schools (suspending 25 percent or more of their total student body), suggests alternatives that are already in use, and highlights civil rights concerns.

April 2013

Geographic Focus: North America-United States

The 2011 National School Climate Survey: The Experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth in Our Nation's Schools

Children and Youth, Education and Literacy, Gay, Lesbian, Bi and Trans

The 2011 National School Climate Survey: The Experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth in Our Nation's Schools

In 1999, GLSEN identified the need for national data on the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students and launched the first National School Climate Survey (NSCS). At the time, the school experiences of LGBT youth were under-documented and nearly absent from national studies of adolescents.

For more than a decade, the biennial NSCS has documented the unique challenges LGBT students face and identified interventions that can improve school climate. The survey explores the prevalence of anti-LGBT language and victimization, the effect that these experiences have on LGBT students' achievement and well-being, and the utility of interventions in lessening the negative effects of a hostile school climate and promoting a positive educational experience. The survey also examines demographic and community-level differences in LGBT students' experiences.

The NSCS remains one of the few studies to examine the school experiences of LGBT students nationally, and its results have been vital to GLSEN's understanding of the issues that LGBT students face, thereby informing our ongoing work to ensure safe and affirming schools for all.

In our 2011 survey, we examine the experiences of LGBT students with regard to indicators of negative school climate:

  • hearing biased remarks, including homophobic remarks, in school;
  • feeling unsafe in school because of personal characteristics, such as sexual orientation, gender expression, or race/ethnicity;
  • missing classes or days of school because of safety reasons; and
  • experiencing harassment and assault in school.

We also examine:

  • the possible negative effects of a hostile school climate on LGBT students' academic achievement, educational aspirations, and psychological well-being;

  • whether or not students report experiences of victimization to school officials or to family members and how these adults address the problem; and

  • how the school experiences of LGBT students differ by personal and community characteristics.

In addition, we demonstrate the degree to which LGBT students have access to supportive resources in school, and we explore the possible benefits of these resources, including:

  • Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) or similar clubs;

  • anti-bullying/harassment school policies and laws;

  • supportive school staff; and

  • curricula that are inclusive of LGBT-related topics.

Given that GLSEN has more than a decade of data, we examine changes over the time on indicators of negative school climate and levels of access to LGBT-related resources in schools.

September 2012

Geographic Focus: North America-United States

Building Equalizing Schools Within Inclusive Communities: Strategies That Redirect the School to Prison Pipeline in the Classroom and Beyond

Education and Literacy;Race and Ethnicity

Building Equalizing Schools Within Inclusive Communities: Strategies That Redirect the School to Prison Pipeline in the Classroom and Beyond

Exclusionary school discipline, also known as "zero tolerance," was chosen as the subject of this report for three reasons: it offers a window into inequalities in education, criminal justice, and broader social life; social scientists have come to a consensus about its harms and provided clear alternatives; and it illustrates the need for comprehensive knowledge and holistic solutions for complex problems.

April 2010

Geographic Focus: North America-United States

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