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

Student Discipline Best Practices for Charter Schools to Employ ReportsPrudence Carter, Michelle Fine and Stephen Russell01 May, 2015 This checklist from the National Center for Special Education in Charter School is a helpful resource for charter schools that want to adjust their discipline policies. It includes best… Read more
Master Class: Legal Issues Impacting the Public Charter Sector Webinar: Student Discipline – Policy & Practices in Public Charter Schools Webinar16 Jun, 2014 In collaboration with the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, The National Charter School Resource Center provides master classes to charter support organization (CSO) leaders and… Read more
California Suspensions Data: Charters and Traditional Public Schools ReportsCarlyn Obringer03 Mar, 2014 This brief includes suspension data and findings from public schools in the state of California. The brief shows that California charter schools, on average, suspend students at identical… Read more
Discipline Disparities Series: Overview ReportsPrudence Carter, Michelle Fine and Stephen Russell01 Mar, 2014 This paper is the first of a four-series report on discipline disparities. This overview summarizes the interventions and policy recommendations the Discipline Disparities Research to… Read more
School Climate and Discipline, U.S. Department of Education Guidance Publication13 Jan, 2014 The U.S. Department of Education offers resources and guidance on the topic of school climate and discipline for all schools, including charter schools. 
Reducing Out-of-School Suspensions and Expulsions in District of Columbia Public and Public Charter Schools ReportsOffice of the State Superintendent of Education01 Oct, 2013 This report includes recommendations to eliminate Out-of-School suspensions and expulsions in DC Public Schools. The report uses local and national research on best practices to support… Read more
Student Discipline and New York Charter Schools: Discussion and Training ReportsCharter schools Institute, The State University of New York01 Jan, 2013 This resource, from the SUNY Charter Schools Institute, includes case summaries and guidance on discipline policy, students with disabilities, and special education discipline policies.
Where Should We Intervene? ReportsRussell J. Skiba, Megan Trachok, Choong-Geun Chung, Timberly Baker, Adam Sheya, and Robin Hughes01 Jan, 2013 This study documents the characteristics of behavior, students, and schools as they contribute to rates of and racial disparities in out-of-school suspension and expulsion. The results… Read more
Developing Policies That Support a Positive Schoolwide Culture and Creating Fair Discipline Processes Webinar19 Jun, 2012 to 19 Jun, 2012 The National Charter School Resource Center hosted a full-day conference in Minneapolis on June 19, 2012, titled, Building the Capacity of Charter Schools: Effectively Serving Students With… Read more
Building the Capacity of Charter Schools: Effectively Serving Students With Disabilities Event18 Jun, 2012 The National Charter School Resource Center hosted a full-day conference in Minneapolis on June 19, 2012, titled, Building the Capacity of Charter Schools: Effectively Serving Students With… Read more