Thursday, November 20, 2008

Middle School Disciplinary Issues

In his blog, Mark Rauterkus discusses a City Paper article on middle school disciplinary issues.

EDUCATION: MIDDLE SCHOOL DISCIPLINARY PROBLEMS SPIKE (News)By: Chris Young - November 20, 2008A drastic one-year increase in disciplinary problems in Pittsburgh's middle schools has some education experts wondering whether public school officials should be teaching the district's code of conduct along

with...http://www.pittsburghcitypaper.ws//gyrobase/Content?oid=55661

Where do you begin with this quagmire?Once upon a time, there was talk that next year was to be the year for "discipline." That was to be the year-long focus. Then that year came and passed and not much changed -- except a lot of new schools were hatched and other priorities trumped the notion of "discipline" being the top worry.To be certain, discipline is a hard thing to witness and see. It isn't as obvious as test scores nor new windows that won't open because they've been screwed shut. Discipline is hard to witness from the outside, most of all. Those that are in the schools can see it. But those who are 'educational advocates' or on nonprofit boards have to be lucky to hear what's what.Be safe. Push where you can. Pull when it makes sense. Get others out of their comfort zones and into positive acts of growth and learning.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

I suggest everyone take a closer look at the A+ Report. I think we have two different manuals being followed at middle schools and some other buildings. One school had 102 incidents per 100 kids?

Questioner said...

I think the 102 incidents per 100 kids is b/c one kid can be responsible for more than one incident- for example, one kid could theoretically have caused all 102 incidents!

Anonymous said...

Even so, THAT would be one BUSY kid. And, chances are he would be suspended so often he may not have 102 days of school. The caption in the report says something about "violence, weapons and controlled substances." If one kid had those kinds of violations and he had not been expelled, there is a bigger problem there. Srsly, look at the report. Look at the schools. If 102 kids got busted for chewing gum in class and sent to the Dean of Discipline, I could buy that. But, would chewing gum be considered a "violence" or a "controlled substance" violation?

deegazette said...

Is there a list of possible violations published somewhere?

Questioner said...

Hmm, good questions- we'll look into them.

Anonymous said...

I just finished watching a replay of the agenda review meeing on the computer. Mr. Sumpter was asking questions about the plans for improvement done by schools and Dr. Lane was answering most of the questions. He mentioned things going right at Schiller and I just went to the A+ report and saw that Schiller had 123.9 incidents per 100 students. I do not know what to think now. That number is higher than any other middle school.

PPSparent said...

Defiance (ie, not doing what you're told) can become an incident pretty quickly.

One thing to remember also is that reducing suspensions is one of the goals leading to extra $ for principals. So...it's not going to be surprising when suspensions drop, eh?

It's hard to know. Some schools are really strict and some aren't. Some enforce every rule and dole out suspensions for most any infraction, others you really have to work to get kicked out for a day.

I do know that if you tie compensation to suspension rates, they'll go down, whether or not the behaviors they are meant to address are changing.

Anonymous said...

Thank you ppsparent, I am catching on quickly now.

New question...how can we say the a compensation system based on things like suspensions will ever have any integrity?

Anonymous said...

forgive my typo.

Questioner said...

And I guess another confounding factor is CEP, which (for a ridiculously large fee) will take disruptive students and work with them at the Clayton building, with the goal of returning the hopefully less disruptive student back to the home school within a year.

So if we are paying CEP how much sense does it make to also pay principals to reduce suspensions?

PPSparent said...

It's like a lot of ideas borrowed from the corporate, run schools like a business way of thinking. It *sounds* like an okay idea until you start playing out all the consequences. Not that being mindful of money and mindful of results is bad...just that teaching kids and running schools just isn't and never will be producing a product or running a service business. (Besides which, the corporate, top-down, executive knows best model isn't looking so great these days.)

Never mind that all schools aren't and won't be exactly alike and have the same policies (having the same teachers and kids might help to even things up). Throwing money into the mix based on specific behaviors on the principal's part might work for some things...but not work as intended for a whole lot of other things.

PUREReform said...

At the excellence for all steering committee meeting last week, I raised the question regarding the decreasing suspensions in response to the incentive for increased pay with Dr. French, Executive Director of K-8 schools and Dr. Lane, Deputy Superintendent of PPS. Dr. Lane stated that this would not happen due to two reasons; 1) there is an ethics clause in the rubric for evaluating the principals and 2) other staff in the building would be aware if the principal was not suspending students that normally would have been suspended for certain behaviors.

I did not get a chance to discus the fact that cheating on standardized tests has been an issue in other school districts (Chicago comes to mind). I will follow up to ask what is being done to ensure that the integrity of our standardized tests is not being compromised.

Anonymous said...

If my kid's school were as bad as the numbers in the A+ Report to the Community indicate, she would be somewhere else. I know my child's school is far better. If there is a zero tolerance policy why do so few schools have any kids getting shown the door? Under the Disciplinary Actions section it says Violence, Weapons, and Controlled Substances.

Questioner said...

Do you mean that the A+ numbers are incorrect or at least that they overstate the problem, maybe by including minor infractions?

And do you know if the zero tolerance policy is written anywhere- in school handbooks or elsewhere?

Anonymous said...

I think A+ created a report based on what they were given. I think PPS gave them the numbers the computer spit out. I think Principal A might input a violation into the computer and Principal B might give a kid an unrecorded warning for the same violation.

I have never looked at any documents for the term "Zero Tolerance." I have heard of kids in my neighborhood going to alternative school for a year after doing things like forgetting something that could be considered a weapon in a pocket and setting off the metal detector or getting caught with a controlled substance.

Anonymous said...

I read above that PURE would try to get a list of possible violations. Here is what the A+ Report points to for more info:

Student disciplinary actions
Definition: “Number of incidents” includes reported incidents of violence and possession of controlled substances or a weapon on school property (one incident may involve more than one offender). For a complete list of incidents at each school that were required to be reported to the state, including the category of “Other Misconduct” (not reported here), go to www.safeschools.state.us (select “School Safety” from the Applications menu on the left, then “School Safety Historic” under the “Reports” menu. You do not need a password to view reports). “Number of incidents per 100 students” represents the number of incidents divided by the total student enrollment multiplied by 100, so readers may compare data from schools of different sizes. “Number of expulsions” refers to expulsions related to reported incidents (including expulsions that are less than, equal to, or more than one calendar year). Information is from 2005-06.
Source: PDE.

With a student in middle school this topic is important to me.

Anonymous said...

The actual website is

www.safeschools.state.pa.us

but I am having a hard time finding the Historic

Questioner said...

Discipliniary issues are a major concern in general, for reasons of student safety and because of the impact they have on achievement and public school enrollment. Thank you for the web references, and we will definitely be looking into this subject more closely.

Anonymous said...

I think the category of offense to be questioned is DISORDERLY CONDUCT in the state report. Back those out and you might get the picture of FOR VIOLENCE WEAPONS AND CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES

Anonymous said...

In the A+ report explanation it says "Other Misconduct' (not reported here). Are we absolutely sure other misconduct is not reported? If you look at the state report and the A+ report it supports that oher misconduct is definitely in the A+ numbers.

Imagine how damaging it could be to middle schools if a clear explanation does not come out soon.

Yesterday, Thanksgiving, would have been a more appropriate day to say so but I was busy, we are grateful for the opportunity to discuss that this blog provides.