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Comprehensive School Safety in Atlanta Public Schools

Award Information

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

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2015, $7,499,668)

Statement of the Problem: School districts nationwide are implementing various evidence-based security- and student-focused efforts to improve school safety. However, little is known about how to effectively integrate their various approaches into a comprehensive whole. In this project, the collaborative will develop and implement an integrated, comprehensive school safety initiative in Atlanta Public Schools (APS). Our vision for this project is to create schools where students feel safe to learn; caring adults support students; and students become integrated members of their communities. Achieving this requires a district infrastructure that provides schools with the information, support, and personnel they require to police school effectively, respond appropriately to emergency situations, and support students' social and emotional development.

Subjects: As a large urban school district, APS serves approximately 50,700 students in pre-kindergarten through grade 12 at 106 building sites. APS' student population is 76.2% Black, 14.3% White, 6.7% Hispanic, and 2.8% Multi-Racial. Seventy-seven percent of APS students qualify for free and reduced priced meals.

Partnerships: WestEd, Atlanta Public Schools, and Georgia State University have partnered for this project.
Research Design and Methods: Year 1 will focus on developing a comprehensive school safety framework. We will begin by fully articulating our definition of safe and supportive schools, including how we will measure key concepts. Workgroups focused on district and other data systems; district finance, policies, and organization; systems of student support; policing; and community engagement will conduct systematic needs assessments that define the anticipated end states and identify the gaps between it and existing conditions. They will then propose evidence-based practices to achieve the goals and metrics and milestones for determining success. At the end of the first year, the full project team will synthesize the workgroups' results into a comprehensive school safety initiative, complete with an implementation plan, metrics and milestones, and a rigorous multi-method evaluation plan. In subsequent years, the CSSI grant will support the implementation of the plan and its continuous evaluation.
Analysis: The analysis will integrate process tracing to study the impact of policy changes, the analysis of covariance to examine group-level outcomes, and hierarchical linear modeling to examine student outcomes.
Products, Reports, and Data Archiving: The results of this project will be disseminated broadly through webinars, presentations, journal articles, social media, and research reports. All data for archive will follow NIJ guidelines, and the project will submit a pdf copy of the technical final report with the archive.

This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law.


Date Created: September 30, 2015