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Identifying Cost-Effective Security Barrier Technologies for K-12 Schools: An Interdisciplinary Evaluation

NCJ Number
Date Published
71 pages

This final report describes a project aimed at providing school administrators, school security directors, and policy makers, with data on what physical security barriers are in place in K-12 schools, the condition of those barrier technologies, and how stakeholders such as parents and teachers perceive the level of security in their schools.


The research project discussed in this report had three major objectives: to conduct physical security surveys of K-12 schools in Arizona and to compile a dataset of the physical security barrier technologies in use in those schools; to survey parents and teachers to collect information about their perceptions of security in their schools, and compare their perceptions with those of security experts who conducted physical security surveys of participating schools; and to test commonly used door and window materials against ballistic and forced entry attack to determine the time necessary to penetrate each door and window materials to establish delay times that security designers could refer to when using an emergency response time approach to school security design. To assess the physical security of participating schools, researchers visited 73 schools and collected data on 3,712 doors. Data collected includes door material, door condition, hinges, locks, doorknobs, door closers, and any windows in or adjacent to each door. Data were collected via 43-item surveys on SurveyMonkey from 614 parents and 398 teachers, representing 43 schools. The report outlines the analytical approach and physical test procedures for discovering the approximate time necessary for an active shooter threat to breach certain non-bullet resistant barrier materials used in K-12 schools. It also presents the results of the stakeholder perceptions surveys. The research project generated four datasets, which have been uploaded to the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data (NACJD): the first consists of all physical security, parent, and teacher survey data; the second dataset contains the physical security data collected during the physical security surveys of participating schools; the third dataset contains parent survey response data; and the fourth dataset contains teacher survey response data. The ballistics testing report was also uploaded to NACJD as an appendix to this report.

Date Published: January 1, 2022