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Examining School Safety and Positive Climate and Culture: A Comprehensive Study in New York City

Award Information

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

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2014, $629,952)

Over the past decade, school safety has become a crucial reform topic. Local jurisdictions have developed comprehensive safety plans for high-risk schools, placed police officers in schools and enhanced security technology. There has also been growing interest nationwide in the role of school climate and culture in creating environments to foster healthy relationships and in the role of positive disciplinary interventions in lieu of suspension. The proposed comprehensive and scientifically rigorous evaluation will fill a gap in the scholarly literature on "what works" and have important implications for educators and justice policymakers nationwide. The analysis will include students in grades 7-11 in 976 New York City public middle and high schools. The sampling frame will include school years 2011-2012 and 2012-2013. The proposed study will employ rigorous methods to assess, in a single multivariable analysis, the intersecting effects of neighborhood-, school-, and individual-level factors on: (a) school disciplinary outcomes/use of suspension; (b) formal justice involvement; and (c) academic outcomes. The study will be conducted in New York City, the largest public school system in the United States. The project will include two research strategies: (1) a comprehensive quantitative analysis applying hierarchical modeling methods to analyze the effects of variations in neighborhood context; school structure and population characteristics; personal student characteristics; school climate and culture; security measures; positive interventions; and other safety practices and outcomes; and (2) in-depth case studies in five selected schools to explore on-the-ground implementation lessons. The analytic plan will employ both descriptive and multivariable hierarchical linear modeling strategies to assess a comprehensive number of timely hypotheses regarding what works and what does not in increasing school safety and individual student outcomes. In addition, case study data from staff interviews and student/parent focus groups at select schools will be analyzed to report emergent themes and findings regarding policy implementation details and lessons. This project will substantially advance knowledge by promoting empirically informed discourse and best practice choices to enhance school safety nationwide. Products will include an Executive Summary for NIJ, multiple peer-reviewed journal articles, an array of policymaker/practitioner-focused products and dissemination strategies, and multi-media dissemination efforts. De-identified study data will be archived per NIJ requirements. ca/ncf
Date Created: September 29, 2014