Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $999,604)
Although the nation’s first school policing program was established in the 1950s, officer-led school-based prevention programs, federal legislation, and high-casualty school shootings have contributed to a proliferation of officers in schools over the last few decades. It is widely recognized that school officers take on a unique role compared to their community-based colleagues, and having school officers on campus who are not properly trained may lead to negative impacts for students and schools. Traditional training for law enforcement delivered through police academies does not provide the training necessary for officers to work effectively in schools, and states and districts have looked to other mechanisms to ensure school officers receive necessary training. For example, the National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO) serves as the nation’s largest provider of training for school officers, reaching upwards of 6,000 school officers per year. Although training options exist, little is known about the quality or outcomes associated with school officer training. Given this gap in the literature and the practical implications of ensuring that school officer training is high quality, promotes learning, and leads to improved school safety outcomes, this study will serve as the first national evaluation of training for school officers. Using a descriptive design, this study will document the NASRO training reach and trainee composition, describe the quality of NASRO training, assess the degree to which NASRO training impacts trainee knowledge and skills, examine the extent to which trainees utilize what they learn in the field, and capture trainee perceptions of the impact of training. Data collection methods will include the collection of implementation and trainee registration data, document review, training observations, pre-post assessments, end-of-course evaluations, and follow-up surveys and interviews. Descriptive and inferential quantitative analyses, coupled with content analysis of qualitative data, will be used to address the evaluation questions. Findings from this study will benefit the field in several ways. First, this study will address a significant gap in the literature regarding the quality and perceived impact of school officer training in the United States. Second, having robust insights into what constitutes high-quality training for school officers will provide federal and state policymakers and funders with important information to inform policy and funding decisions regarding school officer training. Finally, NASRO, the largest provider of school officer training, will receive feedback on their courses to drive course improvement and the availability of high-quality training for school officers nationwide.