Continuous Cycle of Improvement to Advance School Safety

Step

1

Identify School Safety Team

& Begin

  • ​Set vision for the work of the team

  • Conduct self-assessment of current safety plans

  • Set school's vision for comprehensive safety

Step

2

Gather & Analyze Data

  • Gather data from a  broad range of stakeholders

  • Analyze data through an equity lens to determine the needs of vulnerable student subgroups

Step

3

  • Identify priorities based on school specific data

  • Prioritize a limited set of achievable goals

  • Set measurable change goals

Identify & Prioritize Areas For Change

Step

4

  • Match safety goals with strategies and interventions that can be adapted for your local school context

  • Determine staff development and training needed to implement change​

Identify & Adapt

Evidence-Based

Strategies

Begin Here Each Fall

Step

5

  • Broadly communicate policy and practice​​ changes

  • Create opportunities for stakeholders to provide feedback and contribute to advancing change

Communicate

& Implement Safety Plan

Step

6

  • Examine whether staff were able to carry out safety plan expectations 

  • Examine whether students and staff experienced school as a safer more supportive learning environment

Evaluate Implementation Efforts & Outcomes

On this page, we will share some of the implementation tools developed as we support Chicago Public Schools and New York City Public Schools in their efforts to develop school safety plans that address physical, psychological, emotional, and relational safety. 

While the visibility of school-based arrests may capture our attention there are many other factors that go into ensuring that students and staff experience their schools as safe, supportive, and equitable learning environments. School safety needs to address physical safety (e.g., actual bodily harm and threats of bodily harm), along with psychological, emotional, and relational safety (e.g., supportive relationships, positive school climate, a strong sense of school belonging, and mental health). 

 

New approaches to school safety are needed to prepare schools to meet pre-existing discipline and safety needs, as well as new needs created by the COVID-19 pandemic. The National Association of School Psychologists estimates that the COVID-19 pandemic will result in an overall doubling or tripling of students who exhibit social, emotional, and behavioral challenges at school. This means that school safety must be proactive and include plans for teaching and re-teaching the foundational social and emotional skills, and school and classroom expectations that enable students and staff to create a thriving learning community through strong interpersonal interactions.


Fortunately, school safety is an issue for which there are effective strategies and interventions. We have created a guided and streamlined assessment and planning process. This process is based on a broad review of school safety research and implementation manuals that centers school climate, relationships, belonging, and student mental health.

Research shows that school safety can be significantly improved by shifting away from reactive frameworks that wait for behavioral challenges and safety threats to emerge, and instead moving toward proactive safety plans that actively identify at-risk students and respond with developmental appropriate supports. Additionally, schools that make these shifts are more likely to show improvements in student achievement.

 

An equity and antiracist framework is necessary to guide allocation of resources and implementation of safety plans. Advancing educational equity requires remedying the role that the educational system has played in reinforcing societal oppression. To achieve this, equity must be given priority in the allocation of resources, and antiracist principles and practices must be used to guide implementation. 

Here are the Comprehensive School Safety Assessment and Implementation Planning Worksheets that we developed.