Program decreasing school discipline problems
Student behavior incidents have dropped 74 percent in Bibb County this year.
In addition, the school district reported 3,255 referrals for behavior issues so far this year, compared with 5,882 in November 2016. There were 5,082 in 2015 and 5,779 in 2014, according to a report from the district.
Of this year’s referrals, 1,481 were for disrespecting staff, 773 for disrupting the learning environment and 650 for fighting.
The school system also has seen fewer days of out-of-school suspensions, with 3,684 this year and 6,603 in 2016.
Jamie Cassady, assistant superintendent of student affairs, said the improvements can be attributed to several initiatives. The district has had instructors for in-school suspension at the middle and high schools for some time, and now they are also in all the elementary schools. They check on at-risk students on days when students aren’t assigned to in-school suspension, also known as ISS.
“(With ISS), you get an opportunity to continue the education. The teachers send the lesson plans to the ISS instructors so that the learning can still occur,” Cassady said. “You have an individual in the ISS room that’s been trained in de-escalation and that works with that student as far as character ed, trying to understand what’s causing these behaviors and having those conversations with those students.”
This is the first year the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports discipline program has been in place in every Bibb school. The district also has been using the Response to Intervention program, which identifies and supports students with learning and behavior needs.
Four behavioral interventionists were added at the beginning of this school year. The interventionists developed a three-tiered system to identify schools that need additional assistance, Cassady said. They spend more time with students and teachers at schools where test scores and attendance are down and behavior incidents are up.
Schools with the highest incident counts this year are Rutland Middle with 293, Weaver Middle with 222, Ballard-Hudson Middle with 212 and Howard High with 335, according to the report. As a district, sixth through ninth grades had the highest number of incidents.
The Leader in Me character education program is also making a difference, Cassady said. It’s currently in four schools and will be added to the district’s other elementary and middle schools over the next four years.
In addition, the Get Better Faster orientation program provides new teachers with support and tools so they can learn the best strategies for dealing with students.