December 17, 2012
Chicago Public Schools (CPS) today announced that the number of in-school student arrests related to the most serious infractions has been reduced by nearly 25 percent for school year 2011-2012 when compared to the previous year and by 23.6 percent for arrests related to all infractions. In addition, the total number of the most serious infractions has gone down by 15.1 percent while the number of all infractions has gone down by 13.6 percent.
“Our mission relies on creating safe and warm environments for CPS students to support their academic success,” said CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett. “CPS has made significant progress in reducing arrests and all school-based incidents by improving the culture of our schools and building positive relationships among students and staff. We are encouraged about this progress and will continue to support our school leaders and staff in the great work they are doing for our children.”
Last year, CPS unveiled 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). As part of this strategic shift, schools began implementing new proactive strategies that were aimed at addressing issues that reduce negative behaviors on the front end, before they later turn into more serious incidents. Schools were provided with tools and training to develop students' social and emotional skills along with other positive behavior management systems, in order to drive positive school climates.
“It is our responsibility to keep our students safe and secure and focused on their learning while in the classroom. CPS’ proactive strategy, implemented last year, intervenes on the front-end to prevent, protect, and teach children, putting a premium on support instead of punishment,” said Mayor Emanuel. “This critical shift in strategy has led to the promising results we see today and CPS will continue to promote positive interventions to maintain our students’ safety and help them succeed.”
As part of the District’s holistic approach to safety, strategies that were taken to move towards a productive learning environment include:
- Schools were provided with tools and training to develop students' social and emotional skills along with other positive behavior management systems, in order to drive positive school climates. Over 300 schools have been trained to date on positive behavioral and classroom systems that include strategies such as proactively defining, teaching, and modeling expectations for behavior.
- Schools were encouraged to move toward in-school supports for student misconduct in order to minimize the instruction time students miss for behavioral reasons.
- School wide positive behavior management systems were promoted to all schools to provide teachers with tools to more effectively respond to student behavior, including evidence-based behavioral intervention strategies include peer juries, peace circles, focused mentoring and counseling.
- This past summer, all security officers were trained in a new approach that focuses on conflict resolution and other de-escalation techniques.
- Student interventions were conducted with the goal of identifying and addressing the root causes of conflicts. Safe Passage Initiatives were maintained in selected schools to support students as they traveled to and from school.
The OSS works closely and continuously with the Chicago Police Department (CPD) to ensure effective coordination so that every school can ensure the safety of its students.
In addition to these school-based actions, the District worked with community organizations to revamp the Student Code of Conduct in order to promote behavioral supports and disciplinary consequences that are most likely to keep students in the classroom, fostering a more positive school environment. The new Student Code of Conduct was designed to provide principals with more discretion on how to apply discipline such as out of school suspensions. The results so far are very encouraging:
- The total number of out of school suspensions have decreased by 7 percent as of November 30, 2012, when compared with November 30, 2011;
- The total number of out-of-school suspension days have decreased by 21 percent over the same time period.
Over this past year, CPS also placed an extra emphasis on ensuring that students whose schools were involved in a school action received the support and resources needed to thrive in the classroom. The early results from these efforts are very encouraging, showing lower rates of serious infractions.
Additionally, every CPS school has emergency management plans in place. This past weekend, Mayor Emanuel directed CPS CEO Byrd-Bennett to have all principals review their existing school emergency management plans, as a precaution and to reinforce the importance that all procedures are in place to support students and maintain their safety.
Chicago Public Schools serves 403,000 students in 681 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.