APBS Conference San Diego, CA March 28-30, 2013

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Policies & Practices for Reducing the Use of Out-of-School Suspensions:

This presentation will explore current research and provide specific examples from several
school districts in Louisiana that have reduced the use of out-of-school suspension between
22%-63%. Included will be an examination of the critical features for establishing an
effective and responsive school-wide behavior management plan. Case studies from schools
served by the presenters will be used to illustrate the role that administrators, coaches, and
school based team members play in developing, implementing, and maintaining effective
SW-PBIS plans.

Several examples, including sample plans, will be available to participants that provide
guidelines for creating their own proactive school-wide behavior support policies and
procedures for schools they serve. Overall, this presentation will offer helping professionals
models for creating inclusive schools that support success for all students.

For handouts of his presentation, click here “Recent Presentations“.

APBS 2012 Conference in Atlanta, GA March 15-17, 2012

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School-Wide PBIS in High School: Reducing the Use of School Suspension (Dr. Robert March & Ms. Renae Azziz)

School districts across the country are rightfully concerned about the numbers of students who are being suspended or expelled for their behavior. Equally important is the emerging research that indicates that these consequences are not likely to change the inappropriate behavior of the students involved, nor do they serve to deter other students from engaging in the same behaviors (Skiba, Peterson & Williams, 1999, 1997). Instead, these consequences make the suspended student’s academic progress more difficult, and they may increase the likelihood of the student dropping out of school or having other negative outcomes.

This presentation provided examples from high schools in Shreveport, LA, Lake Charles, LA, Connorsville, IN and Mishawaka, IN on how positive behavior support strategies are being employed in schools serving grades 9 through 12 to create educational environments that promote; a) effective educational programming, b) socially competent behavior, c) self management skills, and d) successful transitions from middle to high school settings.
Participants were provided specific SW-PBIS practices and policies that have been effectively implemented in high schools in Indiana & Louisiana resulting in significant reductions in the use of school suspension.  Multiple examples of SW-PBIS HS plans were presented that demonstrate positive behavioral-change outcomes for students. Participants were provided a framework for reviewing and strengthening practices & policies in the schools they serve.

For handouts of his presentation, click here “Recent Presentations“.

The Great Equalizer: Education

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The great equalizer in American society has traditionally been education. In fact President Johnson’s war on poverty focused on using education as means for lifting less advantaged children and improving their chances for success as adults. But a growing body of research suggests that the achievement gap between rich and poor children is widening, a development that threatens to dilute education’s leveling effects.

Analyses of longitudinal data recently published by Dr. Sean Reardon, a Stanford University sociologist, found that while the achievement gap between white and black students has narrowed significantly over the past few decades, the gap between rich and poor students has grown 40% during the same period.

Additional research by Dr. Meredith Phillips, an associate professor of public policy and sociology at UCLA, found that by the time high-income children start school, they have spent about 400 hours more than poor children in literacy activities.  Moreover, the children of high income households are spending 1,300 more hours than low-income children before age 6 in places other than their homes & day care centers/schools (e.g. museums, libraries, shopping malls, etc.).

Below is an article with suggestions on how to boost the educational outcomes of children from low-income families:

This research is not new. In fact, two books from the 1990’s, Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experiences of Young American Children by Todd Risely & Betty Hart and Savage Inequalities by Jonathan Kozol, point out the gaps in educational opportunity and experience between the poor and wealthy in America.

Click here to see summaries and thoughts about the Hart & Risley research:

To continue the theme from my previous blog, identifying educational and societal problems is often easy and obvious; the hard part is what, as educators, can we do?  The simple answer is we can do a lot!  Risley and Hart recommend we design pre-k and kindergarten settings to ensure the amount of talk actually going on, moment by moment, between children and their caregivers is providing positive interactions and experiences with adults who take the time to teach vocabulary, oral language concepts, and emergent literacy concepts.

If you are early education provider, please share your thoughts on what has worked for you and resources that might help others.
You can also contact Successful Schools and request our free materials regarding how to set-up effective preschool and kindergarten classrooms.

Additionally, check-out the free downloadable lessons & resources for preschool educators from the University of North Carolina-Charlotte Behavior and Reading Improvement Center:

School Drop-out: Predicting it is the easy part…

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Predicting it is the easy part…

Predicting school dropout seems to be as easy as ABC, according to a growing body of empirical evidence it appears attendance, behavior, and course failures are pretty darn accurate by middle school at predicting who will not finish high school.

The National High School Center’s Early Warning System (EWS) Middle Grades Tool enables schools and districts to identify students who may be at risk for academic failure and to monitor these students’ responses to interventions. The tool relies on student level data available at the school or district including indicators for attendance, course failures, and behavior (if available) to calculate potential risk for eventual dropping out. The intended purpose is to support students with an increased risk of academic failure, in order to get them back on track for academic success and eventual graduation.

To learn about and download this free tool click below:


The National High School Center is part of a national network of Content and Regional Comprehensive Centers funded by the U.S. Department of Education to help build the capacity of states across the nation to effectively implement the provisions and goals of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The National High School Center is one of five content centers covering a spectrum of topical areas especially relevant to NCLB and school improvement.

While predicting school dropout may be as easy as ABC, intervening to prevent school dropout can be a bit tricker.  I’ve included a link below that provides an overview of 10 effective teaching principles and how they relate to academic success that leads to school completion. Included are practical strategies that teachers can use to make their instruction more effective are also included.


Have a look and let me know if you have utilized any of the strategies provided in the link or have other strategies you have found to be effective.

Report shows minority students suspended at higher rates from USAToday

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WASHINGTON – U.S. public schools suspend black, Hispanic and disabled students at much higher rates than others, according to a new report by a Colorado-based civil rights group.

The report by the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) says that frequent suspensions and expulsions should “raise questions about a school’s disciplinary policies, discrimination, the quality of its school leadership and the training of its personnel.”

The report follows several recent studies in which advocacy groups have questioned harsh school disciplinary policies. Most notably, the Council of State Governments, a Kentucky-based research organization, looked at suspension and expulsion rates for Texas public schools and found in July that nearly six in 10 students had been suspended or expelled at least once between seventh and 12th grade.

The latest findings “strongly suggest a need for reform,” according to the NEPC, based at the University of Colorado-Boulder’s School of Education. The center is a left-leaning think tank that studies racial justice in K-12 education.

The report doesn’t provide any new findings, but instead reviews current statistics from states and the U.S. Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights.

The federal government found that between the 1972-73 and the 2006-07 school years, suspension rates for white students rose from 3% to 5%. Meanwhile, suspension rates for black students rose from 6% to 15%.
Suspension rates for Hispanic students rose from 3% to 7%.
Justin Hamilton, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Education, said department officials hadn’t seen the new report, but he said they were aware of “troubling reports across the country” of the disparity in minority and white discipline rates. He said the department is taking the reports seriously. “In the end, we want to make sure that every student is treated fairly and given the opportunities and the resources to succeed,” he said.

Recent federal findings also show that minority students with disabilities are suspended at a much higher rate than white students. In the 2007-08 school year, 16.6% of black disabled students were suspended, vs. 6.7% of white disabled students.

“I think there is a growing movement to say, ‘Wait a minute, we can do better,'” said Daniel Losen of the Civil Rights Project at UCLA. Losen, who wrote the NEPC report, says recent statistics show that minority and disabled students are often suspended for minor offenses.
“Suspending kids right and left for minor offenses is not a sound educational policy,” Losen says.


Texas Study of How School Discipline Relates to Students’ Success and Juvenile Justice Involvement

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In an unprecedented study of nearly 1 million Texas public secondary school students followed for more than six years, nearly 60 percent were suspended or expelled, according to a report released in July 2011 by the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center in partnership with the Public Policy Research Institute of Texas A&M University.

Breaking Schools’ Rules: A Statewide Study of How School Discipline Relates to Students’ Success and Juvenile Justice Involvement (click title for article) and Juvenile Justice Involvement features these other key findings:

  • Of the nearly 1 million public secondary school students studied, about 15 percent were suspended or expelled 11 times or more; nearly half of these students with 11 or more disciplinary actions were involved in the juvenile justice system.
  • Only three percent of the disciplinary actions were for conduct in which state law mandated suspensions and expulsions; the rest were made at the discretion of school officials primarily in response to violations of local schools’ conduct codes.
  • African-American students and those with particular educational disabilities were disproportionately disciplined for discretionary actions.
  • Repeated suspensions and expulsions predicted poor academic outcomes. Only 40 percent of students disciplined 11 times or more graduated from high school during the study period, and 31 percent of students disciplined one or more times repeated their grade at least once.

Schools that had similar characteristics, including the racial composition and economic status of the student body, varied greatly in how frequently they suspended or expelled students.

Welcome to Dr. March’s Blog on Successful Schools

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This is the first post in what will be regular contributions on successful schools.  I encourage educators to use this site as a sounding board for their practices and an opportunity to share what they find works.

Special Need Kids on CNN

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Teaching special needs kids

May 19, 2009

A look at a school for special needs children in Allentown, Pennsylvania that is working.


GAO report: Special-needs kids abused in schools

Mon May 18, 2009

GAO report uncovers abuse of techniques used to restrain or discipline children.


Successful Schools’ Field Trips

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Welcome to Successful Schools’ Field TRIP’s.  Field TRIPs are brief practical guides that Turn Research into Practice (TRIP). Field TRIPs summarize the latest research in the education field, and translate it into ready-to-use strategies for your classroom.

Please let us know how you’ve used our Field TRIP’s or if there are topics you would like to see us address in future Field TRIP reports.


Winter 2012 Online Course Offerings: Classes start January 15, 2012

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Boulder Institute for Educators (BIE) provides online graduate and undergraduate courses leading to college credit and/or certification in the area of Response to Intervention (RTI) and Positive Behavior Interventions & Supports (PBIS). This online academy is supported by Effective Educational Practices and Seattle Pacific University.

Winter 2012 online courses will run from January 15 to March 9, 2012.