In 2014, to launch our programming we partnered with an elementary school in the West Englewood area of Chicago. The school was in the middle of an unexpected transition that forced the entire school to move into another building and merge with closing school. This causes negative effects for the new combined school as attendance dropped and misconduct soared.
Our pilot school ended the 2014 school year with the lowest attendance percentage (90.8%), and the highest number of Misconducts (100 incidents/56 suspensions) in a district of compiled of 40 schools. The district as a whole was in a transitional phase as a vast amount of schools were forced to close and merge with other schools which led to internal conflicts amongst students.
We started our action plan by looking at data from previous years to identify truancy problems. We broke down every student in the school into three categories based on their previous year attendance. Attendance groups determined the level of wrap-around services each student would receive. We also implemented a student incentive system with school currency that rewarded students for attendance and good behavior. Students loved the ability to work towards a prize for their dedication to program.
The end of the school year data for our pilot school showed a 2% increase in overall attendance and a 5.7% increase in its 8th-grade attendance. In the final year of our pilot program, we were able to raise attendance 3% overall and demonstrate an increase in attendance percentages from all grade levels. Our two-year pilot program began during the 2014-2015 school year and concluded in the 2015-2016 school year.
Pilot School Attendance Data
Data prepared by Chicago Public School Data Archive. Our data impact is represented in the year 2015 & 2016.
We began to survey the student population over the months of April to June, observing student interaction and interviewing students about their school experience. Implementation of our restorative justice program started with the training of faculty & staff to get a “buy-in” of the new initiatives. Our behavior plan consisted of identifying all students that experienced a misconduct in the previous year and hosting adult-led mediation sessions with them during the first week of school.
The end of the school year data showed a decrease of 24% in misconducts and 60% in suspensions based on using our restorative practices. After the completion of our two-year pilot program we were able to decrease misconducts 55% and suspensions 80%. Yes, you read that right! Our two-year pilot program began during the 2014-2015 school year and concluded in the 2015-2016 school year.