Discipline Resources

Accelerating Positive School Culture and Discipline Practices through the Charter Sector

The U.S. Department of Education (ED), in partnership with the U.S. Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services, has worked closely with educators through the #RethinkDiscipline campaign to support initiatives that build positive school climates and develop less punitive approaches to school discipline. Across the nation, educators are creating stronger school communities by adopting creative strategies that reimagine the role of discipline in their schools.

School climate is a multi-faceted concept that describes the extent to which a school community creates and maintains a safe school campus; a supportive academic, disciplinary, and physical environment; and respectful, trusting, and caring relationships throughout the school community. Research shows that creating a positive school climate can help districts, schools, and teachers meet key goals including boosting student achievement and closing achievement gaps, increasing high school graduation rates, decreasing teacher turnover and increasing teacher satisfaction, and turning around low-performing schools. Positive school climates also enhance safety in the school and community by increasing communication among students, families, and faculty, and reducing violence and bullying.

ED and other federal agencies have invested in developing and maintaining a breadth of resources and services for improving school climate and discipline to help ensure safe and supportive learning environments. The professional development (PD) information and tools provided here can be used to develop supportive classrooms and schools that prevent conflict and support the diversity of student needs, including social and emotional skills development and mental health services.

To help educators, network leaders, and other education stakeholders to better access these PD resources from across the federal government, ED has developed this list of Pre-K–12 school climate and discipline resources, including those developed by technical assistance centers funded by federal agencies.

The items below are intended to provide background information on issues relevant to school climate and discipline, help school leaders to develop and increase personnel skills and knowledge, and inform readers about strong practices and lessons learned from exemplary programs. This is particularly relevant for education stakeholders trying to locate materials that would help them in their efforts to launch new initiatives for improving school climate and discipline practices.

The resource list is designed to be reflective of the Guiding Principles developed by a steering committee with input from charter school leaders from across the country. 

Guiding Principles

The guiding principles developed and affirmed by the steering committee are meant to create a framework for action. They serve as guideposts that express aligned values in the work to create or build upon positive, productive, and equitable school climates. As educators take up this effort, they will both rely on and build upon the following guiding principles:

  • Maximize the time students are in school and learning.
  • Cultivate systems that acknowledge and remedy the root causes of students’ and educators’ challenges in school.
  • Leverage data to inform equitable disciplinary systems.
  • Engage the entire school community in professional development and accountability systems that encourage alignment on the school’s intended processes and cultural goals.

The list of free resources includes:

All Discipline Resources

Intentionally Diverse Charter Schools: A Toolkit for Charter School Leaders ToolkitsNora Kern, Safal Partners9 Jan, 2017 This toolkit is designed to help charter school leaders and their stakeholders design and implement intentionally diverse charter schools. It presents decisions and actions, along with... Read more
Valor Collegiate Academies: Charter Schools Intentionally Designed to Serve Diverse Students and Families Case Study15 Dec, 2016 As public schools of choice, charter schools can implement a school model that aims to recruit, enroll, serve, and maintain a diverse student body while being held accountable for student... Read more
CSO Master Class: Managing to Change the World Event7 Dec, 2016 Purpose: Student discipline is a hot topic facing all public schools, including charter public schools. This master class provided information to charter support organizations (CSOs) about... Read more
Charter School Boards in the Nation’s Capital ReportsJuliet Squire and Allison Crean Davis30 Sep, 2016 Tens of thousands of individuals across the United States volunteer their time, energy, and expertise as members of charter school boards. Yet as the charter sector has grown, we’ve learned... Read more
Webinar: The Role of States and Charter School Authorizers in Overseeing Student Discipline in Charter Schools Webinar9 Sep, 2016 Facilitator: Alex Medler, Senior Director, National Charter School Resource Center; former Chair of the Colorado Charter School Institute Board of Directors Presenters: Karega Rausch, Ph.D... Read more