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

National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools 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

Case Study: Student Discipline and School Climate in Charter Schools Case Study24 Jun, 2016 Students need a safe and supportive school environment to maximize their academic and social-emotional learning potential. A school’s discipline policies and practices directly impact… Read more
Grappling With Discipline in Autonomous Schools: New Approaches From D.C. and New Orleans ReportsBetheny Gross, Sivan Tuchman, Sarah Yatsko, Center for Reinventing Public Education13 Jun, 2016 This report profiles leading efforts by two cities to bring consistency and fairness to discipline practices in both district and charter schools—with promising early results: Washington, D… Read more
DC Public Charter School Board Case Study14 Apr, 2016 The National Charter School Resource Center (NCSRC) recently visited the DC Public Charter School Board (DC PCSB) to learn about its authorizing process, and more specifically, to… Read more
Case Study: AppleTree Case Study06 Apr, 2016 The National Charter School Resource Center (NCSRC) recently observed a successful and expanding network of charter schools for three- and four-year-olds and documented findings in a… Read more
School Spotlight: Alternatives to Suspension / Expulsion ReportsCarlyn Obringer02 Mar, 2016 This School Spotlight chronicles five California charter schools’ experiences implementing alternatives to the traditional suspensions/expulsion model, in an effort to keep students in the… Read more
Key Trends in Special Education in Charter Schools: A Secondary Analysis of the Civil Rights Data Collection 2011-2012 ReportsLauren Morando Rhim, Jesse Gumz, and Kelly Henderson01 Oct, 2015 Using data from the US Department of Education, the National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools found enrollment, placement, and discipline data for students with special needs… Read more
Understanding Student Discipline Practices in Charter Schools: A Research Agenda ReportsCRPE, Patrick Denice, Betheny Gross, and Karega Rausch02 Sep, 2015 Fair use of exclusionary discipline is a rising concern in public schools. At issue is whether this type of discipline is disproportionately applied to certain groups of students and… Read more
Understanding Student Discipline Practices in Charter Schools: A Research Agenda ReportsPatrick Denice, Betheny Gross, Karega Rausch01 Sep, 2015 This brief from the Center on Reinventing Public Education examines the use of exclusionary discipline in schools. The Center also outlines the kinds of methods and data that will allow for… Read more
Advancing School Discipline Reform ReportsGreta Colombi and David Osher01 Aug, 2015 During the past two decades, there has been an increase in exclusionary and punitive discipline in US schools. These disciplinary approaches have been discriminatory in their impacts and… Read more
Addressing the Root Causes of Disparities in School Discipline: An Educator's Action Planning Guide ReportsU.S. Department of Education01 Jul, 2015 This document is a guide to assist schools and districts in identifying and analyzing the root causes of disparities in school discipline. Additionally, it provides a guide to help schools… Read more