This article presents the objectives and methodology of a cluster randomized controlled trial of 12 culturally-diverse U.S. middle schools that will examine whether using restorative practices with a multi-faceted implementation strategy (a) reduces negative outcomes, including expulsions, suspensions, truancy, and bullying; and (b) improves positive outcomes related to grade-point-average, sense of safety, and teacher support.
Secondary goals are to identify factors associated with implementation success and conduct a cost-benefit analysis examining return on investment from societal and government perspectives. A mixed-methods research design is employed to address study aims. Restorative practices, non-punitive approaches to discipline focused on developing relationships and healing harm, have emerged as an alternative to exclusionary disciplinary actions, such as suspensions and expulsions. Despite widespread interest in restorative practices, there is little empirical research regarding their effectiveness. The current study will address this research gap. (publisher abstract modified)