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Impact and Outcomes of School Threat Assessment

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $999,177)

Statement of the Problem. The STOP School Violence Act supported the widespread adoption of threat assessment in our nation’s schools, but there are questions about its impact on students. Beyond the immediate impact of threat assessment on violent outcomes, we want to know what kinds of services, discipline, and law enforcement actions occur for students, both at the time of the assessment and in subsequent years. We want to understand the role of law enforcement in the threat assessment process to guard against inappropriate criminalization of student misbehavior. Finally, we want to know whether outcomes are equitable across student groups defined by race, ethnicity, and disability status. This study will be the first to examine threat assessment outcomes across the U.S.

Subjects. This study will examine threat assessment outcomes for a diverse sample of approximately 5,880 students who received a threat assessment in 840 schools from 51 districts in California, Florida, Maine, Utah, and Virginia.

Partnerships. University of Virginia will conduct the study in partnership with 51 school districts and disseminate findings and resources through the National Center for School Safety.

Research Design and Methods. The proposed mixed methods study is designed to achieve the following goals: 1) Measure student behavioral and academic outcomes following their assessment and examine consistency across levels of implementation fidelity in geographically and demographically diverse districts. Qualitatively, examine the varying role of law enforcement in the threat assessment across districts. 2) Measure longitudinal associations between threat assessment case characteristics (such as seriousness of threat) and student outcomes at 3 subsequent times over 3 years. 3) Investigate whether there are disparities in outcomes across demographic groups defined by race, ethnicity, and special education status, taking into consideration student characteristics (such as family income) and school characteristics (such as population demographics).

Analysis. Quantitative models that account for the clustered nature of students nested within schools and districts will examine relations among threat assessment case characteristics and student outcomes over successive school years. Content analysis of qualitative data obtained from interviews of school staff will be used to examine the role of law enforcement from the standpoint of officers, mental health professionals, and school administrators.

Products. We will disseminate findings in peer-reviewed journals, professional presentations, and web resources. We will provide resources through the National Center for School Safety to guide schools in school threat assessment and to help assure equitable outcomes for students across diverse groups.

Note: This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law," and complies with Part 200 Uniform Requirements - 2 CFR 200.210(a)(14). CA/NCF

Date Created: September 16, 2022