MPS wants to create a culture where every student has the opportunity to thrive. We have engaged over 1,000 students, families and staff members in the past year to help us develop the new MPS Behavior Standards Policy that increases the amount of quality time students spend learning. We can do this by reducing suspensions and out-of-class time, especially for our African American males and students receiving special education services. Students cannot learn if they are not in school.
The new Behavior Standards Policy will positively impact all students—those who are struggling and those who are not. Training and resources for our instructional staff members will support more effective learning environments across the board, enhance classroom management practices and also help to redirect behaviors positively.
We must set clear and high expectations, define consistent responses and find alternatives to suspensions, especially in early grades. The policy ensures fair rules for everyone and creates consistency across the MPS system for how students are disciplined at school. The policy will clearly outline expectations for students and adults, alike.
Over the next year, we will implement our new standards. Principals, teachers and other school staff will be equipped with tools, resources and training to support improved responses. Cultural competency training is one key development component central to our staff members’ expanded understanding of the students and families we serve.
The rate at which students of color—especially African-American males—are suspended and disciplined in our schools is alarming. On average, 1 in 5 African-American males in MPS is suspended annually versus 1 in 29 white males. Our current practices and policy have had an adverse impact on our students and our ability to close the achievement gap. Our proposed discipline policy is a Shift towards achieving better academic results for all students.
We must set clear expectations, define consistent responses and find alternatives to suspensions, especially in early grades. The proposed policy would create consistency across the system in how adults discipline students and eliminate the disproportionately negative impact our current practices have on students of color and those who receive special education services.
This change has as much to do with the new policy as it does with a change in practice. We must set high expectations for staff members in engaging and helping students reach behavior expectations. MPS will equip principals, teachers and other school staff with tools, resources and training to support them in this work. Cultural competency training is central to our staff members’ development so they can have a greater understanding of the students and families they have contact with.