Drafting and Assessment and Evaluation Plan
Bammel Middle School is a sixth through eighth grade campus within the Spring Independent School District. The 2015-2016 campus data at Bammel revealed a 1,307 student enrollment with approximately 55% African American, 39% Hispanic, and 3% White. Bammel is a high-needs campus with a vulnerable student population. The campus has 81% economically disadvantaged students and 65% identified as At-Risk (Cite TEA). Data also reflects that 43% of the students at Bammel are below district and state satisfactory standards in all five subject areas tested by STAAR which is the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (Texas Education Agency’s 2015-2016 School Report Card). Additionally the students who received disciplinary actions at Bammel MS are much higher than most middle schools with 33% of students receiving in-school suspension and 33% receiving out-of-school suspension. As compared to other Texas middle schools reporting a median percentage in-school suspension rate of 16.5% and out-of-school suspensions of only 5.1% (cite). The findings of the disciplinary reports indicate a disproportionate percentage of referrals of African Americans at Bammel MS with 45% African Americans with in-school suspensions and 42.6% with out of school suspensions compared to Hispanic students with 17.4% in-school suspensions and 19.2% out-of-school suspensions (cite). Disruption, fighting, substantial disruption and defiance of authority were listed as the top four violations committed.
In considering previous efforts, Spring ISD provides parents and students with a student code of conduct handbook that delineates appropriate school behavior. Disciplinary consequences for the violation of the expectations listed in the code of conduct are also included. Spring ISD and Bammel MS have used the CHAMPS model for more than three years. CHAMPS stands for: Communication, Help, Activity, Movement, Participation and Success. Implementing this model was done in an effort to help both students and teachers clearly define and know campus behavioral expectations for students throughout the campus. The campus has seen moderate improvements, however, to this point it has not provided the type of structure needed to address the discipline issues that has led to the high in-school and out-of-school suspension rates.
There has been a growing body of evidence demonstrating the harmful effects of exclusionary discipline practices, such as school suspension. Prior studies showed that school suspension has been linked to lower achievement, reduced engagement, truancy, risk-taking behaviors, dropping out, and incarceration (Albrecht, 2010; Payne ; Welch, 2013; Morries ; Perry, 2016). Moreover, African American and Hispanic students are disproportionally overrepresented in such school discipline practices (Wachtel ; Mirsky, 2008; Gregory, Skiba, ; Noguera, 2010). For example, African American students are about three times more likely to be suspended for a first infraction than White students (Morris ; Perry, 2016; Kline, 2016).
In an effort to determine the need(s) which is a gap between desired outcomes and current results (Kaufman ; Guerra-Lopez, 2013) a needs assessment must be completed. This will be accomplished through administering a school climate survey to teachers/administrators, students and parents. This survey will be based on Likert scaled items and will focus on several areas of focus including school safety, engagement, and cultural responsiveness. The results of the survey will provide data that can be used to inform decision-making as we design an evidence-based intervention program. The intervention project will use both academic and discipline data to inform decision making and implement evidence-based models of behavior and social emotional support that will provide targeted levels of intervention based on student need. The project will put systems and structures in place that will contribute to a more positive student learning environment.
Scope of Program
Restorative justice is both a methodology for dealing with conflict and a process for modeling more positive human relations after social harm (Rinker ; Jonason, 2004/2014). Restorative justice is based on a set of principles that guide the response to conflict and harm. The three core principles of restorative justice include:
1. Repair harm. Restorative justice requires that victims and communities are healed of the harm which resulted from the wrongful occurrence. Wrongdoers are held accountable for their actions and encouraged to make positive changes in their behaviors.
2. Reduce risk. Community safety requires practices that reduce risk and promote the community’s capacity to manage behavior. Citizens feel safe and are able to live in peace when wrongful behavior is prevented and controlled.
3. Empower community. Schools, along with the external community, must take an active role in and responsibility for the restorative response by collectively addressing the impact of the wrongdoing and the reparation. Students are empowered as active participants in the solution process.
School administrators and teachers are faced with resolving disputes and misconduct in an expeditious and peaceful manner, while at the same time, addressing the needs of youth. Restorative Justice models provide schools with the opportunity to improve school culture by addressing disciplinary standards and creating a forum for peaceful resolution of conflict and misbehavior.
The overall scope of the program is the implementation of Restorative Justice Practices through a model that would include an on-going series of teacher training that will be conducted by Harris County Department of Education’s (HCDE) Center for Safe and Secure Schools (CSSS) who will introduce the basic concepts and implementation protocol. Secondly, HCDE will provide a workshop to introduce cultural responsive pedagogy on campus. Finally, a group of students will be selected to participate in a student leader training that will teach the students the framework and process on how to lead their own restorative circles in their classrooms.
The goals of the program are to improve Bammel Middle School’s school climate that creates a safer environment conducive for learning for all cultural groups, decrease office disciplinary referrals and use of exclusionary practices for all students, prevent recidivism and drop out among students with history of disciplinary problems/juvenile justice. The program evaluation of the project will target the following four questions:
a. What is the impact of the program on office referrals?
b. What is the impact of the program on school cultural climate?
c. What is the experience of teachers who implement the program in their classroom and school administrators who use the program for student misconduct?
d. What, if any, is the impact of the program on students’ academic achievements?
This type of serious behavior improvement will rely on the guidance of the Organizational Elements Model (OEM). This model has five components, Mega, Macro, Micro, Processes and Inputs, that are linked and align with one another. Kaufman ; Guerra-Lopez (2013) informs us that a Mega assessment focuses on how an organization adds value to external clients and to the society as a whole. The benefits that the taxpayer will receive from improved education are the additional tax revenues and the savings in public expenditures for social services that are effected through the educational gains (Belfield ; Levin, 2007). Furthermore, as mentioned earlier, empowering students to take a more active role in managing themselves and their behavior benefits not only the school but the community as well.
Restorative Justice (RJ), as an approach that emphasizes on repairing and building relationships, has been embraced by schools and districts worldwide to replace punitive/exclusionary discipline practices (Bevington, 2015; Gillard, 2015; Bouchard ; Smith, 2017). To date, most recent studies have focused on the success of RJ in reducing suspensions, expulsions and the number of office referrals for behavior issues (Davis, 2003; Hughes, 2012; Gregory, Clawson, Davis, ; Gerewitz, 2016), or focused on individuals affected with little attention given to their social context. However, Vaandering (2010) argued for the need to focus on the role of RJ in improving the relationship-based environments within schools.
Unfortunately, few studies, to date, examined RJ through such critical lens. There have not been many scientific studies to deepen the current understanding of RJ by reviewing the institutional factors in the implementation and practices of RJ. Proponents in the field are calling for research, especially evidence-based research, focusing on supporting RJ’s sustainability and transformative potential which allow it to move from the margins to the mainstream of schooling (Hopkins, 2003; Riestenberg, 2008; McInerney, 2009; Vaandering, 2010; Sabol & Pianta, 2012).
The participants of this evaluation project will include teachers, campus administrators, parents, and students. The sample for this evaluation will be based on the number of students, teachers, and administrators in the 2018-2019 school year. All participants will complete a survey in May 2019 to assess their experiences and engagement with the project and their opinions of the school climate change. A select number of teachers and students will be invited to participate in focus group interviews as well. Consent and Assent forms will be sent to each participant to sign and return before data collection.
The measurements used in this program evaluation will include a survey, focus group interview questions, the Restorative Discipline Practice (RDP) fidelity checklist, biweekly teacher observation checklists and student discipline data.
The project evaluation survey will be an anonymous survey designed by this program evaluation team for teachers, parents, school administrators, and students. The survey will obtain information on participant’s engagement in the project, participant’s experiences of engaging in the project, and participant’s opinions of school climate and cultural responsiveness, as well as the status an need for improvement of school behavior support systems. The survey will also include demographic questions about the role of the teachers and administrators at the school, number of years at the school, race/ethnicity, and gender identification.
Two one-hour focus group interviews will be conducted by this program evaluation team with teachers and student leaders. All participants who are invited to attend the focus groups will have attended the intervention workshops. One focus group will be comprised of teachers while the other focus group will include student leaders who attended the student-leader workshop. The focus group will use different semi-structured interview guides to collect data about participant’s demographics, experiences, and opinions regarding the project implementation, school climate change, and progress of Restorative Discipline practices on campus.
The campus Restorative Discipline (RD) Coordinator will conduct observations twice per week to document teacher’s progress using restorative practices in the classroom. The RD Coordinator will use the RDP fidelity checklist during these observations. Student’s outcome variables include a monthly number of students’ office referrals, student tardies and absences. Data from the RDP Fidelity Checklist and project evaluation survey will be analyzed using XXX. Data from biweekly teacher observation checklist and the focus group interviews will be analyzed for themes. All data collected by this program evaluation will be stored at the Research and Evaluation Institute (REI), Harris County Department of Education, 6005 Westview Dr. Houston, Texas 77055. Only the REI team will have access to the original data. Support your choices with course resources, telling us how and why this approach will be the best.