April 30, 2012
Chicago Public Schools (CPS) today outlined a new holistic approach to creating safer and more positive learning environments through a partnership of its Offices of Safety and Security (OSS) and Youth Developments and Positive Behavior Supports (YDPBS). Working together, these offices are strategically re-envisioning the district’s approach to security in conjunction with implementing proven strategies that drive positive student behaviors and ultimately lead to a boost in academic achievement.
Soon after his start at CPS, CEO Jean-Claude Brizard established the new Office of Youth Development and Positive Behavior Supports, housed under the Chief Education Office. This new office is tasked to focus solely on the implementation of prevention strategies that will address behavioral issues on the front end—before they lead to more serious misconduct, keeping students in school and promoting positive behaviors that lead to success in the classroom and beyond. This office is working closely with OSS to create and execute a strategy that embraces a holistic approach to safety and security. In the past, OSS has not worked closely with the District’s Education Office and has addressed safety from an enforcement and suppression perspective, which provides the tendency for more reactive and punitive strategies.
“Building environments where students feel safe and secure is a critical tool in boosting their academic achievement,” said CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard. “The collaborative work being done by our Office of Safety and Security and Office of Youth Development and Positive Behavior Supports will allow us to tackle safety issues from all ends, and ultimately create safer schools as well as more successful students.”
As part of the district’s holistic approach to safety, OSS is looking at strategies which incorporate an improved understanding of student dynamics and what types of issues create unsafe environments. This includes:
- Improved coordination with stakeholders, not just Central Office and schools, but families, community, etc.
- Launching a new world class, three-day training curriculum this summer for all security staff. It will include a more restorative approach and help them better understand how their job has evolved. We expect to have more than 1,500 staffers attend.
- Creating 10 network safety team members assigned to support the schools on a direct basis. Their responsibilities include serving as the main point of contact for all issues related to safety including supporting the schools on security staff and site assessments as well as assisting in facilitating safety discussions with all key stakeholders, such as CPD and CTA.
- Building on the success we have seen with security cameras and technology by expanding the number of schools receiving these supports.
- Expanding CTA Bus Trackers to keep our students from being exposed at bus stops for long periods of time therefore decreasing the risk of them being victims of a crime.
- Continuing Safe Passage as a program to provide students with safe routes to and from school.
- Monitoring metrics including direct safety metrics such as incidents at schools and misconducts, plus indirect safety metrics such as attendance, suspensions, and percentage of students on track.
The Office of Youth Development and Positive Behavior Supports is taking the lead on addressing issues that lead to negative behavior before they lead to more serious incidents. Strategies include:
- Encouraging schools to move toward in-school supports for student misconduct to minimize the instruction time students miss for behavioral reasons.
- Increasing efficiencies in critical initiatives like Culture of Calm to maintain services to students and better integrate the program into each school’s holistic approach to safety.
- Eliminating school-based coordinator positions that oversee vendors and conduct administrative work. Under the new model, a smaller number of proven vendors with expertise and experience, as well as capacity to serve multiple schools, will be leveraged through Central Office to more efficiently provide high-quality services to schools.
- Working with all stakeholders to revise the Student Code of Conduct to create a clear foundation of positive supports and behavioral expectations in all schools.
Additionally, the new department has worked with networks and school leadership to provide schools with tools and training to develop students’ social and emotional skills and establish a positive climate, including:
- Holding 150 trainings for more than 3,300 teachers, administrators and clinicians, representing over 600 schools on strategic elements of a high quality learning climate.
- Implementing school wide positive behavior management systems – including curriculum - that provide teachers with the information and tools to more effectively respond to student behavior.
As a result of initiatives implemented over the past year, CPS has begun to see promising results:
- Serious infractions inside of the school are down 20 percent across the district in SY12 than at the same point in SY11.
- Expulsions have decreased 43 percent to date in SY12 than at the same point in the year in SY11 and 28 percent fewer expulsion referrals.
- Some schools implementing these practices/systems have reported improvements ranging from reduced school suspensions to increased attendance.
Chicago Public Schools serves 405,000 students in 675 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.