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Project SOARS (Student Ownership, Accountability, and Responsibility for School safety)

Award Information

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

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2015, $5,622,172)

Project SOARS will develop, field-test, and evaluate a comprehensive, student-centered, and technology-based school safety framework for high schools designed to increase students’ resilience to victimization. SOARS consists of: (a) web-based school safety and behavioral assessments, (b) a student-driven social capital building and safety awareness campaign, (c) a web-based student tipline with embedded training, and (d) student and school personnel web-based training in team-based restorative problem solving. SOARS will inform theory about how to reduce
student victimization within a restorative framework. Project products (e.g. assessments, training videos, restorative problem-solving protocol) will be of practical use to high school personnel.
Evidence of the feasibility and efficacy of blending school-wide climate improvement with restorative discipline will likely inform policy recommendations. We will conduct formative research with 36 students, especially from vulnerable groups defined by
race/ethnicity, disability status, and sexual orientation, 36 school personnel, and 36 parents and community stakeholders. We will work with about 240 students, their parents and 8 teachers to field test SOARS, and with about 4000 students, their parents and 160 teachers to evaluate the efficacy
of SOARS. All research activities will be carried out in partnership with Springfield Public Schools in Springfield, Oregon and Danville School District in Danville, Illinois. We will use focus groups during Year 1 to assess stakeholder needs and use NVivo to analyze the qualitative data. We will use the Agile development approach and user acceptance testing protocol in Year 2 to test the relevance and usability of prototypes of all SOARS components. We will collect pre and post data during initial implementation in Year 3 to test the feasibility of SOARS in authentic high school settings via an ANCOVA model testing gain scores in student and teacher perceptions of school climate and knowledge of school safety strategies. In Years 4 and 5, we will use a quasi-experimental design and a 2-level analytical model to test the efficacy of SOARS on reducing
bullying/harassment, improving student engagement with proactive and restorative school safety practices, and improving stakeholder perceptions of school climate.
The web-based tools will be made available to practitioners. Empirical outcomes will be
disseminated to stakeholder audiences via conference presentations, peer-reviewed publications and webinars. Annual and final reports to the funder will be prepared. Datasets resulting from the initial implementation and efficacy test will be archived in the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data following de-identification of all variables and preparation of a data dictionary.

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


Date Created: September 30, 2015