A multi-faceted approach to reduce incidents of student misbehavior though prevention and response measures at Sussex Central High School

Layfield, Bradley H.
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
University of Delaware
At Sussex Central High School (SCHS), student disciplinary referrals and suspensions continuously increased over several school years, reaching a peak number of referrals and suspensions in the 2010/2011 school year. Student discipline referrals and suspensions are a result of misbehaviors in violation of the code of conduct. My goal has been to seek programs, policies, and practices that reduce incidents of student misbehavior that lead to disciplinary referrals and suspensions. Research has shown that the reduction of student misbehaviors creates a more suitable learning environment for all students (Michail, 2011). The improvement strategies presented include activities that have helped me learn about the problem of student discipline, act on the problem, and to evaluate or reflect upon the problem. Learning activities include substantial data analysis and a literature review. Action steps involved structural and systematic modifications to school operations, policy changes, and leadership efforts that impact student behavior and teacher practice. Finally, evaluation and reflection strategies provided insight on the effectiveness of actions implemented. As a result of the prevention and response strategies that have been implemented over a three-year period, Sussex Central's student discipline referral rate has continually declined to their lowest levels in over a decade. My work supports a continuation of a variety of prevention and response measures that have been employed by SCHS since 2010/2011. With respect to prevention, there is ample research that validates the importance of building strong relationships between staff and students (Roache & Lewis, 2011). I have found that these relationships are at the heart of all the prevention strategies employed at SCHS. Moving into the future, further investigation and implementation of prevention programs may be explored to continue this work. For example, SCHS is considering conflict resolution programs that can be used to help prevent incidents of fighting, bullying, and disrespect. With respect to response measures, a variety of practices have been implemented to address student misbehavior. At the heart of all these strategies has been consistency in enforcement of expectations. The practices at SCHS include the removal of students who manifest poor behavioral choices from the classroom setting in order to maintain a positive environment for those students who wish to learn. What's more, removing students who misbehave has been shown to improve the behavior of students who remain in public schools because peers have been found to influence one another's behaviors (Giancola, 2000). Moving forward, I must be cognizant of the learning opportunities for students who are making poor behavioral choices. Exploration of various alternatives will play a part in meeting the needs of these students who are not finding success in the traditional school setting. I have begun to learn more about how educational technology can play an integral role with respect to students who are suspended or placed in an alternative setting due to their behavior. As a school leader, I will continue to show growth as I learn about, act on, and reflect upon issues such as student behavior and its impact on learning.