Guidance for Creating a Positive School Climate

Photo: Dean Mitchell / iStock / Thinkstock
"No student and no teacher should ever feel unsafe or unable to concentrate on learning because of violence or disruptive behavior," says US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “It’s essential that educators have access to the best resources and training to support positive student behavior and implement alternatives to exclusionary discipline.”

In a video that introduces a School Discipline Guidance Package prepared by the Departments of Education and Justice, Secretary Duncan stresses the importance of creating a positive school climate in order to keep kids in school and out of trouble. The guidance package is designed to help educators, school leaders, parents, and communities prevent misbehavior. 
Duncan reports that during the 2011 school year, over three million public school students received out-of-school suspensions and over 100,000 students were expelled. Kids with disabilities are more likely to be disciplined with exclusionary measures than other students. Similarly, African American students are over three times more likely than white students to be suspended or expelled for nonviolent behaviors.
Loss of instructional time often leads to kids dropping out of school or ending up in the juvenile justice system. The guidance package, part of Duncan’s Supportive School Discipline Initiative in partnership with Attorney General Eric Holder, is designed to help schools focus on restorative practices and positive behavior supports to decrease zero-tolerance policies and increase learning. Action steps include:
  • Using evidence-based strategies such as tiered supports
  • Promoting social and emotional learning, as well as academic skills
  • Providing ongoing training for all school personnel in supporting positive behavior
  • Involving families and students in the development of discipline policies
Download the guiding principles [PDF] and visit for the full package’s additional resources.
Learn about behavior management training and the relationship between CPI and PBIS.
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About the Author

“I believe that more often than many people think is possible, we can prevent problems from getting out of control. We can make each other safer.”