FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Thursday, March 19, 2015
CHICAGO—Chicago Public Schools (CPS) releases today a mid-year data report revealing a 60 percent reduction in suspensions and 69 percent reduction in expulsions across all grades in School Year 2014-2015 (SY14-15) compared to the first semester of last school year. These results follow the District’s revisions to the Student Code of Conduct (SCC) last year, which provide a more equitable approach to student discipline and promote positive learning climates and keep students engaged in school.
“When children are not in school, they miss out on key instructional time that they need to be successful in the classroom.” said CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett. "These numbers are encouraging, and are a testament to the new Student Code of Conduct that we implemented to reduce out-of-school time for students across the District. While there is more to be done, we will continue to work to keep students in school, engaged, and on track for graduation and a brighter future.”
CPS enacted a new SCC last year in recognition that historically too many students were being suspended and expelled due to a zero-tolerance policy that had once been the District standard. For several years, CPS has had among the highest and most racially-disproportionate suspension rates in the nation.
To address the overuse and disparity in disciplinary actions, CPS launched a comprehensive strategy in January 2014 to engage teachers, principals and school officials in planning to revise the code of conduct to reduce the application of exclusionary discipline and provide supports for alternative responses. The Suspension and Expulsion Reduction Plan (SERP)’s first line of action was to inform revisions to the SCC, which include simplified and clarified policy language, and guidance to schools on how to implement restorative practices and address misconduct while keeping students in the classroom.
Strategic efforts continue this year through SERP to deliver training and supports to all schools, provide enhanced clarity in discipline data reporting, and to continuously engage parents and other stakeholders in the efforts to improve school climates. The District has worked hard to expand restorative justice and SEL supports to all schools, both of which are shown to reduce out-of-school suspensions and expulsions, and keep students who are often the most at-risk connected to their school communities.
Since last year, to support and equip schools to deliver restorative approaches to misconduct, CPS has trained thousands of school-based staff on programs that are dedicated to improving school climate. So far, the District has added more than 100 restorative practices coaches, 72 climate support teams, 65 trained classroom management coaches, and the District’s first-ever dedicated network SEL support specialists—14 of which are on the ground providing supports to schools across the district. CPS continues to monitor school data to provide tailored training and supports where needed.
This mid-year data demonstrates that the investments in school climates are paying off—schools are relying less on removing students from school to address misconduct, with more restorative responses applied to misconduct in 84 percent of incidents during the first semester, up from 68 percent last year.
A total of 9,907 out of school suspensions were administered in the first semester of the 2014-15 school year, compared with 25,218 from the same time period the year before. In looking at total expulsions applied at both District and charter schools, only 124 students had been expelled during the first semester of 2014-15, compared with 200 in the first semester the year prior. This year, only 13 students attending District schools were expelled, down from 42 in the first semester of last year.
To ensure consistency across the board, CPS is collaborating with charter partners through the “Chicago Collaborative for Supportive School Discipline”, a District-wide effort to establish more consistent and supportive discipline policies. The District has expanded its “alternatives to expulsion” intervention programs that have dramatically reduced expulsions in District-managed schools available to charters. CPS has also worked with charters on development of their school codes to more closely align with the District’s.
CPS continues its pledge to post detailed suspension and expulsion data for all schools in order to increase transparency, accountability and engagement among partners and community members as we work toward a goal of keeping students connected to their school communities and developing supportive discipline practices.
SY 14-15 mid-year data can be viewed at: http://cps.edu/SchoolData/Pages/SchoolData.aspx
Chicago Public Schools serves 396,000 students in 664 schools. It is the nation's third-largest school district.