Schools need a consistent system for collecting data and managing student behavior, as well as establishing school-wide measures of success. This system needs to be easy to understand, easy to navigate, backed by best practices, and used consistently and fairly by all school employees.
Creating a positive culture where students are treated equitably while also receiving proper coaching on behaviors requires proper reporting, effective execution of discipline best practices, and analyzing behavioral data. We must also pay careful attention to the behaviors in a school that are not quantified by referrals, suspensions, and expulsions. All students, not just students that exhibit drastic behavioral problems, will benefit through proper coaching that can be informed by data. Too often, schools don’t have the necessary data and systems to track such a critical element and predictor of student success.
Disproportionality must be identified and action plans must be enacted to properly serve all students. When we wait for end-of-year data to come out, it is too late. According to the Civil Rights Data Collection, of the 49 million students enrolled in public schools in 2011-2012, 3.5 million students were suspended in-school, 3.45 million students were suspended out-of-school, and 130,000 students were expelled.
Another concerning fact from the Civil Rights Data Collection is that black students are suspended and expelled three times as often as white students, and students with disabilities are suspended twice as often as their non-disabled peers. We have disproportionality data in suspensions and expulsions because schools are required to track and report these, but we don’t see the underlying issues that give a better picture of what happened leading up to those events. Disproportionality and bias happen every day, every hour, and every minute in our schools.
Disproportionality data for negative behaviors is important, but one major gap in information that most schools have is disproportionality data with positive behaviors. We must know whether or not most of our positive log entries are being disproportionally given to certain student groups. For example, would most schools would not know whether or not a positive recognition such as ‘good effort’ was being recognized equitably through all student groups? If certain groups of students are not being recognized or not seen in a positive light due to bias or other factors, it might lead to a lack of sense of belonging, feeling stereotyped, or even worse, a feeling that they are not being seen at all.
A behavior management system is a great tool to help keep a school consistent, equitable, and able to provide coaching to students. Many schools use a Student Information System (SIS) for behavior tracking, but there are limiting factors:
- Behavior tracking is not the main function of a Student Information System. It often takes a back seat to attendance tracking and the gradebook.
- It takes a lot of time to find the behavior log section in most SIS.
- There are too many fields to fill in, which takes too much time to log events.
- If log entries are not user friendly, teachers are much less likely to track behaviors with fidelity.
- Where does the log entry go? In most systems, it just exists on a student’s profile and it has to intentionally be looked at to know it is there.
- There is typically a major communication gap when a student receives a consequence and teachers rarely know what happened.
- Expectations are not clear. Students do not know what they are accountable for, where they currently stand, or what will happen next if they continue to exhibit poor behaviors.
- Data is usually apples to oranges. Different teachers might have different expectations and record different data points from each other.
- The most critical data is not readily available, such as what day of the week a student struggles the most, how the behavior of the student is trending, and the impact an intervention had on behaviors
- Any sort of usable data typically needs to be exported by an administrator, then analyzed, then relayed to others. This makes usable data not timely or available to all stakeholders (including teachers).
- There is typically a lack of PBIS or restorative practice functionality, leading schools to use multiple systems for behavior
A useful tool to aide in your execution of effective school-wide behavioral expectations is a Behavior Management System (BMS). Check out our revolutionary behavior management system, BehaviorFlip, that combines the best of restorative practices, PBIS, & tiered interventions to help build a culture of empathy, responsibility, & growth mindset!
For more strategies and resources on how to create lasting change in your school and/or classroom, please check out our international bestseller, HACKING SCHOOL DISCIPLINE: 9 Ways to Create a Culture of Empathy & Responsibility Using Restorative Justice.