Data Use, Technology, and Educational Leadership

Might technologies improve school discipline?

Here’s a story from a Boston radio station about an elementary school with a large number of suspensions. This is a turnaround school, with management of the school outsourced to UP Education Network. The school attempted to adopt a “broken windows” policy toward student behavior. When I was first learning to be a teacher, I was admonished to “nip [misbheavior] it in the bud.” But this has never sat well with me. And when I become an administrator, I don’t know if went a day without having to dole out a detention, suspension, or in-school suspension. The whole idea of Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS) had yet to gain traction. It’s interesting that the school in this story displays values like teamwork, integrity, and grit, but there’s no mention for how these are taught or encouraged.


Looking ahead, I’ve begun mapping out a study for next year to examine what role technologies might play in supporting PBIS or any school discipline initiative. School should be an amazing place. Students should feel valued, uplifted, and enriched. A number of systems are now emerging that promise to track not only misbehaviors, but also productive ones. Further, they can alert parents, teacher teams, and administrators to students’ statuses in timely ways. In other words, what if technologies could help us collected better data about students, and what if we used that data to improve how we supported them? What would happen? What would adults need to do to make this work?

This is a social justice issue calling out for attention. It has become clear that poor and minority students do not get the same treatment for the same infractions as their more affluent and white peers. In what has become known as the “school to prison pipeline,” it doesn’t take long for students to figure out that school isn’t a place for them.

One last thing: This article mentions how parents were being called to pick students up early (without being officially suspended). It’s worth digging more into the book keeping here. This is a trick of the trade is often used on students who receive Special Education services (a no-no).



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This entry was posted on March 10, 2016 by and tagged , , .