At a suburban high school, the Effective School wide Discipline (ESD) committee kept track of discipline data. The team disaggregated how many referrals students had for different locations of the school, times of day, gender, ethnicity, etc. The ESD team tracked the referrals and analyzed the data but no patterns surfaced. The ESD team decided to look below the surface and go beyond the set requirements. The ESD team looked at the referrals by individuals and realized that 44% of the referrals came from only 5% of the students. This was alarming so collectively the group investigated ways to improve this pattern.
The ESD team decided to look for positive incentives. First of all, the team targeted that list of students who had recurring discipline problems and their grade level administrators called them in individually. The administrators told the student that they wanted to see progress with his/her behaviors and let the student know that they would be invited to a pizza party during their lunch at the end of the semester if the student didn't get any more referrals. There were only about six students who made it through the next three weeks without getting in trouble and qualified for this reward but many of them did try to do better so the school's discipline numbers began to decrease.
Next the ESD team looked at the timing and realized that March and May were the months with the most referrals so the team strategized on how to decrease the discipline during those two months. For March, the team did prize drawings. Any student who did not get a referral would have their name entered into the drawing. For May, the ESD team did a Student Staff Triathlon and those students who did not have referrals could attend and those who got in trouble during the month had to go to a designated room and do homework.
Along with the above mentioned procedures, the ESD committee asked staf members to write positive referrals during the year for students whom they witnessed going above and beyond. The teacher wrote comments on the form and put it in their administrator's mailboxes. The administrators called those students into their offices and gave the students the form with their added comments, a pass for free ice cream and called the students parents. It was amazing to hear the surprise from a parent when an administrator called home for something positive and to see how much something small like this actually meant to high school student. The added benefit was that the discipline referrals decreased by over 20% from the year before. For an administrator, that equates to time during the school day to focus on other leadership aspects.
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