Results from the Field – North Carolina

Perceptions of School Safety

This past year, Renee Davis finished her dissertation on Promoting a Safe School Environment Through a School-Wide, Positive Behavior Support System. In it, she addresses the question, "Do staff and students feel safer in a school where a school-wide, positive behavior support system has been implemented?"

To find the answer to this question, Renee analyzed surveys given to 2513 elementary school students and 576 staff members in 13 North Carolina elementary schools. The 13 schools are participants in the Responsible Discipline Program (RDP), a Foundations/CHAMPs implementation in Guilford County, North Carolina.

Renee discovered that "perceptions of safety significantly increased between the Initiation and Maintenance levels..."

(Note: The Initiation level is when a school begins the implementation process. The Maintenance level is achieved three or four years after initial implementation when a school has inaugurated most of its policies and procedures and is now in a "maintenance pattern" of reevaluation and reinforcement.)

But there is more to changing school climate than the perception of safety. Renee goes on to say:

"Research specifically on the effects of the Foundations program has shown increases in attendance, academic achievement, and staff perceptions of school safety, as well as decreases in office referrals. Data from a Kentucky Elementary School indicated within one academic year of implementing the Foundations program, school attendance increased from approximately 93% to about 95.4%, and the academic index (AI) increased from 51.4 to 65.7."

Note: The academic index is a measure used by Kentucky schools to identify a level of proficiency. All Kentucky schools are aiming for an index level of 100 by 2014.

And, here's the data Renee found that indicates that Safe & Civil School's approach to school-wide behavior management significantly decreases office referrals:

"An elementary school in Orange County Florida also implemented school-wide behavior policies in the fall of 2001. Results from this school indicated that office referrals decreased from 426 in 2000-01 to 204 in 2001-02. Within the first three months of implementation, office referrals within the school decreased by 35%."

"An evaluation of the Responsible Discipline Process (RDP), which is based on the Foundations/CHAMPs program, reported positive changes in staff perceptions of school safety and civility, teacher knowledge of effective classroom management practices, and a reduction in the number of office referrals."

—Excerpt from Promoting a Safe School Environment Through a School-Wide, Positive Behavior Support System, a dissertation by Renee Davis, 2004.