Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2016, $4,196,537)
Statement of the problem: New Mexico (NM) ranks second to last in the nation for both child wellbeing and education, and 49th in high school graduation rates. In 2015, graduation rates for Albuquerque Public Schools (APS)the states largest school districtwere 61.7%, with even lower rates for racial/ethnic minority and economically disadvantaged students. Zero-tolerance policies, emphasizing rigid responses to infractions, including removal of students from school and referrals to juvenile justice systems, have prevailed nationwide. Such policies disproportionately affect minority/disadvantaged students by severely disciplining them for minimal infractions, imperiling their academic performance and graduation, and potentially leading to detention or incarceration. In contrast, restorative justice practices elicit understanding of the perspectives of those involved in conflict and rule violations, addressing the effect of offenses, and remedying the damage, thus opening up healing opportunities and keeping students in the classroom. Yet, little research exists regarding their effectiveness in reducing negative student outcomes and developing positive school climates. Our knowledge of factors associated with successful implementation and fidelity, and adaptations at the district, school, staff, and student level to promote their sustained use is also inadequate.
Partnerships: This proposal addresses these gaps by developing a Community-Academic Partnership (CAP) to implement and evaluate a large-scale restorative practice initiative for APS middle schools called Cultivating Healing by Implementing Restorative Practices for Youth (CHIRPY). Our CAP involves APS, other key community entities, and academic researchers.
Research design/methods: The CHIRPY will: (1) Engage APS stakeholders in a structured planning process for incorporating tailored restorative practices within culturally and economically diverse middle schools to reduce adverse student outcomes related to discipline; (2) Produce scientific evidence regarding the effectiveness and the costs/benefits of restorative practices implemented in APS middle schools using a stratified cluster randomized design and mixed methods; and (3) Build capacity within schools to implement and evaluate restorative practices with fidelity after implementation support has ended, and to facilitate cascade of practices districtwide. A combination of qualitative methods (interviews, focus groups, and document review) and quantitative methods (surveys and administrative data review) will be used to evaluate and track implementation success and outcomes.
Analysis: Procedures include iterative qualitative data coding, descriptive analysis, multilevel modeling, and cost/benefits analysis.
Products, reports, and archiving: CHIRPY will advance a set of strategies to enhance child wellbeing. The CAP will disseminate these strategies and accompanying evaluation methods via national/state conferences, districtwide reports, peer-reviewed publications, and open access mediums. ca/ncf