During the 2015-2016 school year we began using the SWIS program (School Wide Information System) for collecting and summarizing student discipline data. An early look at the data showed an unprecedented number of student discipline referrals coming from transportation. When looking at transportation data with our advisory council, it became clear that the greatest number of disciplinary reports came from the bus that services students in the lowest socioeconomic group. This is the bus that transports students who are living in government assisted, income based apartment rentals. This one bus services 38 students (3.5% if our student population) and accounted for 17% of the referrals for discipline.
Many of these disciplinary referrals resulted in students being removed from the bus for several days, and in some cases missing days of school due to lack of transportation. This, in turn, affected academics and social relationships. We discussed these concerns at our advisory council meeting and brainstormed intervention ideas.We extended our school counseling program goal to closing the gap activities to put reinforcements in place for this particular group. It is our mission to ensure that all students have access to a safe and nurturing environment that removes barriers to learning.
Applied Survey Research (a nonprofit social research firm specializing in school readiness assessments) performed a study in July 2011 commissioned by Attendance Works (a national and state initiative that promotes better policy and practice around school attendance) that suggests that attendance in the early grades is critical to sustaining school readiness skills developed in preschool. “Students who arrived academically ready to learn - but then missed 10 percent of their kindergarten and first grade years - scored, on average, 60 points below similar students with good attendance on third-grade reading tests. In math the gap was nearly 100 points.” (“Attendance in Early Elementary Grades; Associations with Student Characteristics , School Readiness, and Third Grade Outcomes”, July 2011). It is for this reason that we chose to educate these students on what the expectations are on the bus so that they could be successful. Our objective was to reduce the number of disciplinary bus referrals on this bus, thus limiting the number of days a student would be absent due to lack of transportation and removing that barrier to learning.
We began February 8, 2016 by pulling together these students by grade level and surveying their perceptions. Based on this we determined that the most successful interventions would be ones that taught and reinforced the rules of the bus. We planned a series of large group lessons that lasted over six weeks. For each group of students we reviewed bus safety with administration, watched our kid friendly P.B.I.S. (Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports) video that we made on bus behavior, practiced bus procedures, and reinforced the transportation expectations. This resulted in a 64% decrease in discipline referrals for this bus by the end of the school year. Next steps include intervening with this group of students and bus driver at the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year to see if that number can be maintained, or even further decreased.