Saturday, December 7, 2013

School-wide Approaches to Mitigate Behavior Problems and Optimize Learning for All

When trying to implement the safe and orderly environment correlate, educational leaders can easily fall into common traps (Simonsen, Sugai, & Negron, 2008; Horner, Sugai, & Horner, 2000).  Behavior management can be key to student, teacher, classroom, school, and district success.  Whenever serving students with disabilities, effective behavior management becomes even more crucial.  

Failure to implement proper behavioral plans for students with disabilities can have financial as well as academic consequences.  Although less tangible, the emotional toll upon students for inappropriate behavior management can be significant.  District administrators must be aware of both the educational and legal issues required for effectively managing the behavior of students with disabilities.  Therefore, implementation of sachool-wide policies and appropriate interventions must also provide the opportunity for case-by-case consideration. 

Poorly managed classrooms and buildings negatively impact student learning.  Conversely, well-managed classrooms and buildings positively impact student learning.  Administrators and educational leaders can take several steps to promote a district-wide climate that cultivates well-managed classrooms and buildings.  Administrators and educational leaders can do the following:

1. Encourage all teachers to establish and define reasonable classroom norms or rules and appropriately communicate these to each student.  Each norm or rule should be stated in positive terms.  Assess student awareness of each rule’s purpose.

2. Facilitate commitment from all staff for teaching students the appropriate school behavior in a manner similar to teaching, reinforcing, and assessing academic skills.  Therefore formal lessons on social skills, interpersonal problem solving, and conflict resolution should be presented by teachers and counselors.  Diverse programs designed to assist schools in this regard provide significant professional development.

3. Establish universal expectations for various areas of each building.  Staff should be competent describing what “respect” entails within the classroom, library, lunchroom, and restrooms.  This provides consistency with norms or rules throughout the building.  Common understanding of expectations eliminate disagreements among students and staff, thereby reducing anxiety for students.

4. Convey explicit behavior expectations and consequences to parents and families.  This encourages support from home, mitigates conflicts, and increases the positive home-school relationship correlate.

Despite implementation of the above, some students will not respond to school-wide strategies.  Therefore, more individualized strategies will need implementation.  Knowing a range of approaches and additional preventative strategies mitigate chronic behavior problems. 

Whenever students exhibit chronic behavior problems, staff must know how to consider the root cause and purpose for the problematic behavior before attempting to identify an appropriate replacement behavior.  Effective, well-versed administrators draft policies and seek consensus for carrying out disciplinary strategies.  Depending on the age of the student, including the student in discussions of the problem may prove very helpful.  Including the student’s family members in identifying strategies tailored to the child’s individual needs also proves helpful.

Whenever a student has an individualized education program (IEP) or a behavior intervention plan (BIP), strategies need to be evaluated by child study team (CST) or intervention and referral services (I&RS) team.  Typically, such child-centered teams include the child’s parent[s], general education teacher, special education teacher, and other school officials with specialized knowledge of the child’s needs.  This optimizes communication, collaboration, implementation, and effective integration through the IEP or BIP.  Some preventative strategies may include:

• Designate specific support staff such as a counselor, social worker or aide, to regularly check in with the student or help the student needing time or space to vent or cool down.

• Adjust the timing or content of the student's academic schedule.  When appropriate, such accommodations mitigate potential triggers that increase student stress and anxiety.  For instance, it may be helpful to schedule physical education between cognitively demanding academic classes.

• Directly teach the student various relaxation techniques, including visualization, deep breathing, or yoga.

• Plan for the student’s need to take “timeouts” as an accommodation to either settle down, become calm, or regroup.

• Develop a succinct crisis plan, outlining procedures for optimally responding to the student's problematic behavior.  Such a plan may provide training in non-aversive behavior management.  This includes positive reinforcement and communicative strategies that all support staff and stakeholders can universally utilize.   

• Provide counseling, mentoring, or intense social skills training.

• Provide services and supports “wrapped around” the student and the student’s family.  These include interagency services provided at school, home, and in the community.  Given involvement of multiple agencies it is important that a care coordinator oversees support services.

Preventative strategies are more effective when based on valid and reliable functional behavioral assessment (FBA).  Since individualized strategies are intensive and may need to be in place over an extended period of time, it is crucial to involve the family in all stages of developing and implementing them.  Once again, this encourages support from home, mitigates conflicts, and increases the positive home-school relationship correlate.  

School-wide and individualized preventative strategies intend to proactively respond to student behavior problems, encourage desired behavior, and mitigate chronic behavior problems.  However, some students may continue to exhibit misconduct.  When students with disabilities engage in misconduct, administrators and teacher leaders must be aware that federal laws, including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA), provide such students with specific procedural safeguards.

IDEA and Section 504 prohibits schools receiving federal funds from discriminating against a student with a disability because of that disability.  For any student receiving special education services, federal law permits the school to “remove” (i.e., suspend) the student for up to 10 consecutive days for violating the school’s code of conduct.  The caveat is the discipline must be consistent with the school’s treatment of students without disabilities who have committed the same violation under similar conditions.  Beyond that level of consequence, the school must provide the student additional procedures, most notably a manifestation determination.  For example, when the student’s IEP specifies bus transportation as a related service, suspending the student from the bus due to chronic misbehavior for more than 10 consecutive days constitutes a “change in placement,” thereby triggering the child’s right to a manifestation determination.  This process determines whether or not the violation was a “manifestation” of the child’s disability. 

Under IDEA, an exception to the 10-day rule, occurs when a student commits a weapon or drug offense at school, or if the student causes another person serious bodily injury at school.  In such a case, the school may unilaterally place the student in an interim alternative educational setting for up to 45 consecutive school days.  Removing a student from the education program designated in her IEP for either more than 10 consecutive days or a pattern of removals accumulating more than 10 days, constitutes a “change in placement.”  This situation requires the school convene a manifestation determination meeting whereby members of the child’s IEP team will consider whether the violation was a manifestation of the disability.  If the team determines that it was, the school may not change the student’s placement without parental consent.

Under IDEA, when a manifestation determination results in consensus that a student’s conduct was a manifestation of disability, or if a school changes the placement of a child with a disability by removal for more than 10 days, the school must conduct a functional behavioral assessment (FBA).  The FBA examines the meaning, function, cause, or purpose of the student’s behavior.  The result of the FBA is a creation of an effective behavior intervention plan (BIP) aimed at managing the student’s behavior in the future.  FBA allows the team to isolate the reason for the student’s behavior problem.  As a result, the team can formulate an effective BIP that not only mitigates the behavior, minimizing intrusion upon the school, but ultimately extinguishing the behavior and channeling the student toward more acceptable and productive behaviors in the future.

Whenever a manifestation determination conference results in the finding that a student’s violation of a code of conduct was not a manifestation of disability, the school may discipline the student as it would a student without a disability.  This could thereby justify a change in placement.  This change could result in expulsion or transferring the student to an alternative school.  However, the school must continue to provide the student educational services that permit access to the general education curriculum and opportunity to progress toward stated IEP goals.

A proactive approach can mitigate the conflict cycle that exacerbates problematic behaviors (Fecser & Long, 2000).  The increasing popularity of school wide PBIS programs (Walker et al, 2005) exemplify schools recognize success based on related research.  Therefore, administrators and teacher leaders should be well-versed in appropriate district-wide and individualized preventative measures for managing student behavior.  Since the special education law can be intricate and punitive for non-compliance, understanding the legal issues related to the discipline of students with disabilities is essential.  Professional development for staff and stakeholders increases competencies, promotes collaboration, and mitigates potential conflict.  The result is increased opportunity to sustain success and optimize the mission of learning for all.

To Cite:
Anderson, C.J. (December 7, 2013) School-wide approaches to mitigate behavior problems and optimize

learning for all.  [Web log post]  Retrieved from



 Fetter-Herrott, A., Steketee, A.M, & Dare, M (2009) Disciplining students with disabilities:

The legal implications of managing these pupils. Retrieved from

 Horner, R.H., & Sugai, G. (2000). School-wide behavior support: An emerging initiative

Journal of Positive Behavioral Interventions, 2, 231-232.

Schneider, T., Walker, H.M., & Sprague, J.R. (2000). Safe school design: A handbook for

               educational leaders. Eugene, OR: ERIC Clearinghouse on Educational

Management, College of Education, University of Oregon.

Sugai, G., & Horner, R.H. (2002). The evolution of discipline practices: School-wide

positive behavior supports. Child & Family Behavior Therapy, 24(1/2), 23-50.

Walker, B., Cheney, D., Stage, S., & Blum, C. (2005).Schoolwide screening and positive

               behavior support: Identifying and supporting students at risk of school failure.

Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 7, 194-204.

Walker, J. S., & Schutte, K. M. (2004). Practice and process in wraparound teamwork.

Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 12, 182–192.


Thursday, November 7, 2013


Like all seven correlates of Effective Schools Research (Lezotte & Snyder, 2011), the positive home-school relations correlate is deceptively simple to describe, but unusually complex to execute across the diverse student groups that comprise the typical school.  For example, when it comes to discipline, parents usually expect the school’s staff to treat their children as the parents would treat them at home.  In practice, the variability in parenting styles makes it nearly impossible for educators to know the types of action that individual parents prefer.  What is a teacher to do?

Reflecting upon the home-school correlate, Lezotte and Snyder (2011) believe the parent involvement is filled with paradox.  First, when the school has an open house, parents’ night or parent-teacher conferences, the parents whose children need such partnerships the least are usually among the first to come.  On the other hand, the parents whose children would benefit the most from a stronger home-school partnership often do not come at all.  Similarly, stay-at-home moms and dads can readily visit their children’s classroom during school hours, whereas parents who work outside the home are limited in their ability to visit school at such times.  These situations illustrate challenges educators encounter when seeking to build strong home-school relations, a necessary element in an effective school.  

Leaders of effective schools use a variety of strategies and provide many opportunities for parents and caregivers to be involved with their children’s schooling in order to create a strong partnership that makes student success more likely.  These leaders also recognize that the absence of desired parental support can not be used as an excuse to give up on those students.  Recognizing the importance of parent involvement in schooling, early Title I federal legislation in the United States established provisions for involving parents in their children’s learning.  No Child Left Behind took parent involvement a step further and specifically defined it as “the participation of parents in regular, two-way, and meaningful communication involving student academic learning and other school activities” (U.S. DoE, 2004).  Under this law, schools receiving Title I funding were required to adopt specific strategies for involving parents in their children’s schooling, including parents who traditionally had not participated with the schools due to cultural, language, socioeconomic, or other barriers. 

For example, schools and districts with large numbers of English language learners have been required to offer written school policies in the students’ home languages.  NCLB has made it clear that building the capacity of parents to be involved in their children’s education was a priority by requiring schools and districts to spend a significant portion of their Title I dollars on doing just that.  Such a school-parent compact exemplifies the importance attached to parent involvement in schools. 

While generalizations are always tricky, it is generally true that levels of parental support are stronger with elementary students (Sheldon & Van Voorhis, 2004).  As students’ progress to middle or high school, parental partnership in pursuit of the school mission is more difficult to achieve and maintain.  Schools with high concentrations of minority or low-income students, as well as those with a significant number of English language learners, also have lower levels of parental involvement, as well as lower educational expectations of their children (Lee & Bowen, 2006).  Many reasons account for the lack of parent involvement among these groups  Such parents may feel unwelcome because of their own educational experiences, feel culturally out of touch with the school staff, or have work schedules that prohibit active participation in school activities .  (Sanders, Allen-Jones, & Abel, 2002).  Because these parents struggle with their own educational deficits or difficulties with English, it is essential for schools to teach such parents about what to do to optimize the available help to promote their children’s learning. 



To Cite:

Anderson, C.J. (November 7, 2013) Improving parental partnership to optimize student learning.  [Web log post] 
               Retrieved from



 Lee, J., and Bowen, N., (2006). Parent involvement, cultural capital, and the achievement gap among elementary school

children. American Educational Research Journal, 43, 193-218

Lezotte, L. W. (1991) Correlates of Effective Schools: The First and Second Generation.

Lezotte, L. W., & Snyder, K. M. (2011). What effective schools do: Re-envisioning the correlates.  Bloomington, IN:

Solution Tree Press.
Sanders, M. G., Allen-Jones, G. L. And Abel, Y. (2002), Involving Families and Communities in the Education of  
            Children and Youth Placed At Risk. Yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education, 101: 171–188.

doi: 10.1111/j.1744-7984.2002.tb00081.x

Sheldon, S.B., & Epstein, J.L. (2006) Getting students to school: using family and community involvement to reduce

chronic absenteeism. The School Community Journal Retrieved from:

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Using the Correlates of Effective Schools Research to Sustain School Success

Based on the Framework for Effective Schools Research, the Sustainable School Reform worksheet (appendix A) helps identify essential elements or “correlates” of effective reform, and critical components while reviewing case studies involving school improvement initiatives.  While a metacognitive tool is very useful for effectively and efficiently organizing, analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating information, prerequisite understanding of the information comprising the tool is necessary to optimize usage of the instrument.  The purpose of this month’s post is to describe the six essential attributes of school reform, describe how the Seven Correlates of Effective Schools are utilized as leading indicators of sustained reform, and explicate how and why these basic beliefs involving Effective Schools Research provide an framework for improvement. 
The Six Essential Elements (Attributes) and Their Importance

As identified on the Sustainable School Reform worksheet, the six essential attributes for school reform are:

1.               Data Driven

2.               Results Oriented

3.               Research Based

4.               Focused on Quality and Equity

5.               Collaborative Is Form

6.               Ongoing and Self-Renewing
      The importance of these essential attributes are more readily recognized when analyzing the Correlates of Effective Schools in relation to any case studies seeking to examine sustained school improvement.  Following World War II, W. Edwards Deming developed a Total Quality Management (TQM) system comprised of14 data driven points that he contended, “were essential for business success” (Davenport & Anderson, 2002, p. 33).  The Brazosport reform initiative used Deming’s TQM system and his “Plan-Do-Check-Act Cycle” (p.34) as the Superintendent sought to implement results-oriented and research-based school reform. 
      When a school’s mission statement describes a preferred future then the importance of the mission statement is to provide the staff with a clear projection for growth and benchmarks for assessing progress.  By contrast, when a school’s mission statement merely represents current reality, the mission is less inspiring and less energizing (Lew, 2001).  The effective leader will be able to communicate this clear vision grounded in optimistic values. 
      Without combining quality principles with its school reform efforts, continuous improvement would be less likely.  Through an examination of tenets derived from Effective Schools research, Ravitch (1985) advocates for an indissolvable link between the issues of quality and equity.  Given this, it is highly advisable for schools to seek out and identify systems promoting equity in quality. 
      Development of a Clear and Focused Mission often encounters resistance by educators who are fearful of making bold statements such as "Learning for all."  Fear rules the day when staff collectively worry about what happens if the school falls short of its stated mission?  A strong leader of educational reform makes it a moral journey for followers to collaboratively join the effort.  A detriment to reliance on a charismatic leader during reform efforts without including quality principles in the initiative is that if the leader then leaves before the initiative becomes institutionalized, then effort often dies and the gains are quickly lost.(GCU, 2011, p. 2). 
      Although the interconnectedness of the correlates of Effective Schools requires a strong educational leader, once the reform efforts institutionalize quality principles then the likelihood for continuous improvement is increased.  In the Brazosport case study, such institutionalization resulted from analyzing, synthesizing, and implementing Mary Barksdale’s successful classroom approaches into an eight-step process “similar to Deming’s Plan, Do, Check, Act, cycle(Davenport & Anderson, 2002, p. 48). 

Using Correlates as Leading Indicators for Continuous Improvement

As a counter to Coleman’s (1966) research that extensively absolved schools of responsibility for student achievement, Edmonds began extensive research designed to investigate successful schools with large populations of low SES students.  His subsequent findings resulted in a call for equity grounded in a commitment to promoting the academic skills of low socio-economic status (SES) children to levels of mastery of basic skills.  By addressing the equitable distribution of goods within a society, Edmonds’s (1979) work was framed in socio-political terms whereby all children could be educated and the school's treatment of children was seen as a critical factor in each child’s academic success.  Edmonds believed there are six factors that schools can actually control, which can optimize academic success for poor children.  These included:

1.               strong administrative leadership;

2.               a climate of expectation that children would succeed;

3.               orderly school atmosphere;

4.               primary emphasis on student acquisition of basic skills;

5.               school energy and resources focused on basic skills; and

6.               frequent monitoring of pupil progress (p. 18).

The six factors identified by Edmonds (1979) were reinforced by Pechman’s and King’s (1993) identification of six essential factors for successful school reform, which included:

1.     a stable and safe school environment;

2.     the ongoing support from district staff for reform;

3.      the presence of teacher leaders within the school;

4.     the collaboration and support of the whole faculty;

5.     the acceptance and commitment by the faculty to participate in the change process; and

6.     a principal who facilitates the changes and encourages collegiality.

Additionally, as reported by Childress (2009), six types of essential involvement need to be included in any program of school reform.  This comprehensive program of school-family-community partnerships, as explicated by Epstein (1995), includes:

1.     parenting--helping all families establish home environments that support children as students;

2.     communicating--designing and conducting effective forms of communication about school programs and children's progress;

3.     volunteering--recruiting and organizing help and support for school functions and activities;

4.     learning at home--providing information and ideas to families about how to help students with schoolwork and school-related activities;

5.     decision-making--including parents in school decisions and

6.     collaborating with the community--identifying and integrating resources and services from the community to strengthen and support schools, students and their families (p. 16).

The basic conclusion of Edmonds (1979) comparative research on Effective Schools was that public schools can and do make a difference, even if comprised of students from low SES backgrounds.  As a result of effective public schools, all children can learn at high levels including children from low SES backgrounds.  Unique characteristics and processes found in schools where all students were learning at high levels regardless of SES status were correlated with student success therefore the term "correlates" has been subsequently referenced in Effective Schools Research.  These interconnected correlates include:

           Safe and Orderly Environment

           Clear and Focused Mission

           Climate of High Expectations for Success

           Opportunity to Learn & Student Time on Task

           Frequent Monitoring of Student Progress

           Positive Home-School Relations

           Strong Instructional Leadership (Lezotte, 1991)

As a bridge between the initial work by Edmonds and more recent research related to school reform, the research by Levine and Lezotte (1990) focused upon correlates of effectiveness, processes for creating effective schools, and achievement criteria for determining the success of these efforts.  During this time, Levine and Lezotte encouraged an emphasis on dual research that focused upon the instructional features of effective teaching and the organizational features of effective schools.  Ultimately, the Seven Correlates and Six Essential Elements of School Reform formed the basic beliefs framing improvement for Effective Schools.

How are Basic Beliefs of Effective Schools an Important Part of School Improvement?

The seven correlates of effective schools are interdependent and not intended for implementation in isolation.  Although there is utility in considering each correlate one at a time for purposes of becoming familiar with the related research, each correlate must be viewed as a necessary, but not sufficient, part of the entire effective school as a system that successfully produces learning for all.  Given the interdependency of the seven correlates, school leaders must therefore approach them with the view of implementing them all at once.  Thus, a clear and focused mission as well as strong instructional leadership is required to move the other interdependent correlates from being an ideal to effective practice. 

Since Effective Schools research demonstrates that a result of schools ignoring the interdependence among the seven correlates is slow progress, then without strong, respected instructional leadership that can help bring consensus for a clear and focused mission, confusion about how to simultaneously incorporate all the correlates would prevail.  For example, during the late 1980s and early 1990s, educators who were formerly advocates of the comprehensive Effective Schools Process broke off certain elements of that process and overemphasized them, to the detriment of the whole process.  When educators attempted to run with one or two correlates of Effective Schools, their efforts were unsuccessful. 


In recent years replication research (Comer, 1998; Reeves, 2008) reaffirmed the earlier findings by Edmonds (1979) and Lezotte (1991) that the basic beliefs of effective schools are important for school improvement.  The correlates clearly describe schools where children are learning and these correlates remain absent from schools where children are learning at an observably lower level of success.  These replication studies involved diverse schools ranging from urban, suburban, and rural settings, including elementary middle, and high schools, in affluent, middle class communities, and low SES communities.  Therefore, consistently, the seven correlates have been shown to provide schools with a comprehensive framework for identifying, categorizing, and solving the problems confronting schools and school districts.  When utilizing the Effective Schools Model, by implementing a faculty-administrator-parent-community team-planning approach, which utilizes student achievement data and the seven correlates to develop and implement a long-range improvement plan, the schools and school districts exhibit school improvement.  Most importantly, research proves the Effective Schools Model promotes district-wide, systemic restructuring that provides continuous improvement, thereby ensuring every child has access to a quality education and an equal educational opportunity.

Appendix A 

Worksheet 1: Sustainable School Reform

Based on the

Effective Schools Research Framework

As you read any the case study material intended to evaluate school reform efforts, print this worksheet and use it to take notes regarding what the district did and how it went about doing it.  There may be elements listed on the worksheet not mentioned or even implied in the case material.  If this is the case, you should note that related information was not provided.  In addition, you should “score” (3 = very important, down to 1= little importance) for each component that is discussed in the materials.  At the completion of the exercise, you should list questions that could be addressed by any educators involved in the case study, thereby providing a deeper understanding of what occurred.

1.      Essential Elements and Critical Components

a.      Data Driven

b.      Results Oriented

c.      Research Based

d.      Focused on Quality and Equity

e.      Collaborative Is Form

f.       Ongoing and Self-Renewing

2.      Five Ts of Continuous Improvement

a.      Theories

b.      Teams

c.      Tools

d.      Time

e.      Technology

3.      Correlates of Effective Schools

a.      High Expectations for Success

b.      Strong Instructional Leadership

c.      Clear and Focused Mission

d.      Opportunity to Learn/Time on Task

e.      Frequent Monitoring of Student Progress

f.       Safe and Orderly Environment

g.      Positive Home/School Relations

4.      Implementation Processes

a.      Involvement Processes

b.      Clarifying Mission/Belief

c.      Defining Essential Student Learning

d.      Analyzing the Data

e.      Searching for Solutions

f.       Action Planning

g.      Executing Action Plans


To Cite:

Anderson, C.J. (October 6, 2013) Using correlates of effective schools.  [Web log post]  Retrieved from




Childress, S. M. (2009). Six Lessons for Pursuing Excellence and Equity at Scale. Phi Delta Kappan, 91(3), 13-18.

Comer, J. P. (1998). Educating poor minority children. Scientific American, 259(5) 42-48.

Davenport, P., & Anderson, G. (2002). Closing the achievement gap: No excuses. Houston, TX:


Edmonds, R. (1979). Effective Schools for the Urban Poor. Educational Leadership, 37,


Grand Canyon University (producer). (2011, October). EDA805 Module 1 Lecture

Levine, D. U., & Lezotte, L. W. (1990). Unusually Effective Schools: A Review and Analysis

of Research and Practice. Madison, WI: The National Center for Effective Schools

Research and Development.

Lezotte, L. W. (1991) Correlates of Effective Schools: The First and Second Generation.

Northouse, P. G. (2009). Leadership: Theory and practice (5th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage

Publications, Inc. ISBN: 978-1-4129-7488-2.

Pechman, E. & King, J. (1993). Obstacles to restructuring: Experiences of six middle-grades

schools. New York, NY: National Center for Restructuring Education, Schools and Teaching. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED362985)

Stober, D. R. (2008). Making it stick: coaching as a tool for organizational change. Coaching: An

            International Journal Of Theory, Research & Practice, 1(1), 71-80.


Taylor, B. O. (2002). The Effective Schools Process: Alive and Well. Phi Delta Kappan, 83(5),