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Shelby County School District Comprehensive School Safety Initiative

Award Information

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

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2016, $4,833,916)

Statement of the Problem: This project will develop knowledge about how a comprehensive approach to school safety intervention can promote school safety and improve student and school staff well-being. A tension exists within the American education system- the need to protect students from the realities of violence in and around the school building, and the suspension/expulsion mandates associated with zero tolerance policies, which greatly limit discretion in individual cases, involve law enforcement personnel, and mandate removing students from school. There is an urgent need for solutions and dissemination about what works to make schools safe. Subjects: Middle school students, teachers, and other school staff from middle schools in the Shelby County School District (SGS); the Memphis Police Department; and other community partners. Partnerships: RTI International will be partnering with SGS, which is the largest school district in Tennessee and the 22nd largest in the United States. Our partners have well-established relationships with essential school safety stakeholders in their community. Research Design and Methods: The present study will use a rigorous school-randomized design to evaluate the implementation, outcomes, and cost-effectiveness of three types of school safety strategies: (1) treatment as usual; (2) student-focused school safety programs; and (3) comprehensive school safety strategies. Analysis: The evaluation will include analysis of process, outcome, and cost data. The primary analytic technique for the qualitative process data will be triangulation to find patterns of convergence and to assess how groups differed in their experiences and perceptions of school safety. For the analysis of outcome data, a series of weighted multilevel latent growth models (for assessing trajectories of change across all repeated measures) will be fit for each focal outcome. For the cost evaluation, we will estimate cost-effectiveness acceptability curves using nonparametric bootstrap methods Products, Reports, and Data Archiving: We will report our results in visible scholarly outlets, including peer-reviewed journal articles and presentations at national conferences. We will provide other dissemination products to help other schools evaluate their own programs, and we will provide evidence to policymakers of the benefits of our comprehensive approach. The project will yield rich quantitative and qualitative datasets that will be archived with the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data (NACJO). ca/ncf

Date Created: September 14, 2016