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

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
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
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
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
Idaho Compilation of School Discipline Laws and Regulations ReportsU.S. Department of Education26 Jan, 2018 This compilation presents school discipline-related laws and regulations for the state of Idaho, and, where available, links to education agency websites or resources related to school… Read more