The discipline gap was defined using disaggregated school data profile from the Statewide Longitudinal Data System and Schools Administrative Student Information. Discrepancies between enrollment and discipline referrals with three student sub-groups were noted. Specifically, in 2016-2017, male students made up 51.3% of the enrollment and 82.6% of discipline referrals, African-American students were 27.3% of enrollment and 42.3% of discipline referrals, and students with disabilities were 12.6% of enrollment and 33.6% of discipline referrals. After digging further into the data, 67 of the discipline referrals noted were from African-American males with disabilities.
Tier 1 interventions for closing the gap were for all staff and students including African-American males with disabilities. All students participated in a core curriculum unit on peer relations to address the largest category of discipline referrals involving peer-to-peer violations. All students received 14 advisement lessons to build connections with teachers. All students participated in positive behavior systems to earn positive behavior “bucks” to be cashed in for prizes throughout the year. Counselors reviewed Student Engagement Instrument (SEI) data with staff throughout the year to show which students were in need of affective and cognitive engagement in six areas including teacher-student relationships. The SEI is administered by the school two times each year and scored by our district office of Research and Evaluation who generate SEI reports. One report categorizes the percentage of students in three groups for overall engagement in the district (Lowest 10%, Middle 80%, Highest 10%).
Individual reports include the student's’ percentile, which is district normed and any scores below the 25th percentile are flagged as being a potential area of concerns.
The counseling department paid particular attention to the disaggregated teacher-student relationship data. Counselors sent weekly emails, named after the theme of the year, to teachers providing ideas to assist in connections with students. A portion of these weekly emails focused on creating connections with marginalized populations to support African-American male students with disabilities using information from The Connection Coach website and “For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood and the Rest of Y’all Too” by Christopher Emdin.
Tier 2 interventions were specific to African-American males with disabilities. Two types of small groups were implemented to impact the discipline gap including resilience groups. A second small group was the Cypher group that focused on self-expression, self-confidence, and emotional coping skills using hip-hop music. Some African-American males with disabilities were included in the Check and Connect program pairing individual students with a coach to problem solve concerns in academics, behavior, and attendance and the Iron Men Mentoring program pairing individual students with a parent or teacher mentor.
The closing-the-gap goal was not meet. Instead there was an increase in discipline referrals from African-American males with disabilities and a higher percentage of African American and male students who communicate affective disengagement with their teachers. While the counseling department felt the correct ASCA mindsets and behaviors were addressed, the content and audience for interventions needed to be expanded. The mindsets (M2,M5) addressing self-confidence to succeed and belief in using abilities to their fullest will continue to be the focus of the mindsets for small groups. In addition, the behaviors addressing self-motivation (B-LS4), overcoming barriers to learning (B-SMS6), demonstrating coping skills (B-SMS 7) and building positive relationships with adults (B-SS3) will still be addressed. Small group support will continue with a different approach inspired by African-American males such as Daymond John and his book “The Brand Within,” in order to give African-American male students relatable examples of success. African-American males with disabilities will be prioritized when referring to our local school mentoring programs such as Iron Men and check and connect coaches.
To expand the closing-the-gap audience and approach, a staff book study will be offered using "Culturally Responsive Pedagogy and The Brain" by Zaretta Hammond. Including Tier 2 supports for teachers in understanding how to build relationships and rigor for diverse groups of students will educate teachers on how to close the gap so that small group supports can be matched within the classroom. Counselors will receive more education on Restorative Practices to use in collaboration with administrators and teachers creating a more supportive learning experience for students rather than a punishment experience, building rather than damaging teacher-student relationships. Counselors will use an additional engagement survey with specific questions about the reasons behind the teacher-student relationship concerns giving student voice to African-American males with disabilities to understand the best ways to support students and close the gap.