Discipline

Accelerating Positive School Culture and Discipline Practices through the Charter Sector

The U.S. Department of Education (ED), in partnership with the U.S. Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services, has worked closely with educators through the #RethinkDiscipline campaign to support initiatives that build positive school climates and develop less punitive approaches to school discipline. Across the nation, educators are creating stronger school communities by adopting creative strategies that reimagine the role of discipline in their schools.

School climate is a multi-faceted concept that describes the extent to which a school community creates and maintains a safe school campus; a supportive academic, disciplinary, and physical environment; and respectful, trusting, and caring relationships throughout the school community. Research shows that creating a positive school climate can help districts, schools, and teachers meet key goals including boosting student achievement and closing achievement gaps, increasing high school graduation rates, decreasing teacher turnover and increasing teacher satisfaction, and turning around low-performing schools. Positive school climates also enhance safety in the school and community by increasing communication among students, families, and faculty, and reducing violence and bullying.

ED and other federal agencies have invested in developing and maintaining a breadth of resources and services for improving school climate and discipline to help ensure safe and supportive learning environments. The professional development (PD) information and tools provided here can be used to develop supportive classrooms and schools that prevent conflict and support the diversity of student needs, including social and emotional skills development and mental health services.

To help educators, network leaders, and other education stakeholders to better access these PD resources from across the federal government, ED has developed this list of Pre-K–12 school climate and discipline resources, including those developed by technical assistance centers funded by federal agencies.

The items below are intended to provide background information on issues relevant to school climate and discipline, help school leaders to develop and increase personnel skills and knowledge, and inform readers about strong practices and lessons learned from exemplary programs. This is particularly relevant for education stakeholders trying to locate materials that would help them in their efforts to launch new initiatives for improving school climate and discipline practices.

The resource list is designed to be reflective of the Guiding Principles developed by a steering committee with input from charter school leaders from across the country.

Guiding Principles

The guiding principles developed and affirmed by the steering committee are meant to create a framework for action. They serve as guideposts that express aligned values in the work to create or build upon positive, productive, and equitable school climates. As educators take up this effort, they will both rely on and build upon the following guiding principles:

  • Maximize the time students are in school and learning.
  • Cultivate systems that acknowledge and remedy the root causes of students’ and educators’ challenges in school.
  • Leverage data to inform equitable disciplinary systems.
  • Engage the entire school community in professional development and accountability systems that encourage alignment on the school’s intended processes and cultural goals.

The list of free resources includes:

Featured Discipline Resources

Center for Learner Equity logo
Using data from the US Department of Education’s biennial Civil…
Reports | 14 Nov, 2019
Bellwether logo
The State of the Charter Sector: What You Need to Know About the Charter Sector Today
Case Study: Student Discipline and School Climate in Charter Schools
SE Webinar Survey: Peer-to-Peer Consultancy - Peer Reviews and Subgrant Competition

All Discipline Resources

Logo for the Center for Learner EQuity
School Discipline and Engagement of Law Enforcement in Charter and Traditional Public Schools ReportsCenter for Learner Equity10 Mar, 2021 This technical brief is part of an ongoing series that the Center for Learner Equity launched in 2015 that examines the enrollment and experiences of students with disabilities in different… Read more
"Toolkit for Educators" on a gray background next to a teen boy
Fix School Discipline: Toolkit for Educators ToolkitsFix School Discipline01 Mar, 2022 Fix School Discipline – a project of Public Counsel – is a comprehensive resource for school superintendents, principals, teachers, parents, students, community leaders, organizations,… Read more
"Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) in the Classroom" against a green background
Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) in the Classroom ReportsCenter on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support01 Nov, 2021 This guide provides guidance to educators implementing positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS) —from universal supports for all students to intensive and individualized… Read more
The A-Game Logo and Document title
Better Goals. More Learning. Using Student (re)Engagement Levels to Create Meaningful Goals and Measures ReportsNational Charter Schools Institute 01 Jan, 2021 Accountability systems that rely on traditional measures, particularly since the beginning of the pandemic, have not consistently yielded useful data on student learning and engagement… Read more
Parents and students talking on a couch
Building a Positive School Climate Through Restorative Practices ReportsLearning Policy Institute18 Apr, 2021 This publication by the Learning Policy Institute reviews research that illustrates the benefits of restoratice discipline practices, rather than exclusionary discipline practices, and how… Read more
Children raising their hands in a classroom
An Advocate's Guide to Transforming Special Education: Creating Schools Where All Students Can Thrive ToolkitsInnovate Public Schools01 May, 2018 This research report and toolkit includes myths about students with disabilities, list of ways teachers can change expectations about students with disabilities, and questions families/… Read more
Cover of the Indicators of Distress Part 2 publication
Identifying Indicators of Distress in Charter Schools, Part 2: The Roles and Perspectives of Charter School Leaders and Board Members Reports04 Oct, 2021 Although school failure and school improvement are complex challenges that look different in different contexts, patterns and trends associated with schools in distress are emerging. This… Read more
"News" written on a chalkboard
The Charter Connection - February 2021 Newsletters18 Feb, 2021 What's Happening Here's what you may have missed from NCSRC in the past few months: Assessing School Quality This NCSRC tool can lead schools' data-driven school improvement process using… Read more
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High-Quality Charter Authorizing Policy Profiles - Michigan Profiles The High-Quality Charter Authorizing Policy Profiles (State Profiles) are summaries of states’ charter school authorization policy contexts. The 27 entities that are profiled represent the… Read more
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Planning for Family Engagement in the Charter School Life Cycle: A Toolkit for School Leaders Toolkits23 Nov, 2020 Effective family engagement is an intentional and systematic partnership of educators, families, and community members who share the responsibility for a student’s preparation for school,… Read more