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CSSI Comprehensive School Safety Projects - Breakout Session, NIJ Virtual Conference on School Safety

On February 16-18, 2021, the National Institute of Justice hosted the Virtual Conference on School Safety: Bridging Research to Practice to Safeguard Our Schools. This video includes the following presentations: 

Assessing a Comprehensive Framework to Reduce School Violence, Beverly Kingston and Alison Dymnicki

Researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder’s Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence (CSPV) partnered with educators in 46 middle schools to implement Safe Communities Safe Schools (SCSS). SCSS seeks to address behavioral incidents, mental, and behavioral health concerns, and increase prosocial behavior in schools through three core program components: developing a functioning multidisciplinary school team, building capacity around data use, and implementing an action plan using evidence-based programs. The study explored research questions in: readiness (whether schools met baseline criteria and experienced readiness changes over time), implementation (whether the SCSS model was implemented as intended), and associated outcomes (effects on school climate, safety, related behavioral and mental health indicators, and academic outcomes). CSPV and external evaluators from American Institutes for Research conducted a mixed-methods randomized control trial with a staggered implementation design using qualitative and quantitative data (focus group, staff and student school climate, and school record data). The study found that (1) participating schools met the pre-developed readiness criteria and reported some improvements in readiness constructs over time; (2) some components of the model were implemented as intended; and (3) there were mixed impacts on school climate, safety, behavioral and mental health indicators, and academic outcomes.

Project SOARS (Student Ownership, Accountability and Responsibility for School Safety): Successes and Challenges, Claudia Vincent and Dorothy Espelage

Project SOARS focused on the development, usability testing, field testing, and pilot testing of a student-centered and technology-driven comprehensive school safety framework for high schools. We first provide an overview of the framework components and their theoretical grounding in extant research. We then summarize the findings of each phase of the project, with particular emphasis on the findings from the pilot test. All student outcomes from the pilot test were in the desired direction. Intervention effects on student-reported school connection, sense of personal safety, and level of disruption reached statistical significance. Effect sizes ranged from small to medium, with the largest effect size in students’ perceptions of personal safety. We contextualize these findings in existing school safety policy recommendations, discuss persisting challenges with integrating student voice and leveraging reporting technology in school safety decisions, and provide suggestions for further research.

School-based Coordination & Integration Efforts as Part of a Comprehensive School Safety Initiative, Joseph McCrary and Christopher Henrich

A coordination & integration (C&I) process was used with a sample of middle and high schools in Atlanta. School teams used a data -driven process to identify goals and objectives related to school safety, map resources and coordinate activities to achieve those goals, and choose measurable outcomes to gauge their success. Technical assistance and $40,000 per school to support activities was provided.  A mixed methods approach is being used to evaluate the process and its outcomes. Focus groups, observations of school team meetings, and document review are being used to address research questions about the content and implementation of schools’ C&I plans, teams’ capacities and challenges faced, the role of technical assistance provided, and sustainability. Findings to date document challenges school teams faced in overcoming administrative and other barriers to C&I planning, and ways the technical assistance team adapted the process help school teams to develop and start implementing C&I plans. Quantitative analyses of state School Health Survey data are also being used to identify school-level climate and safety outcome measures. Using these outcomes, analyses will examine changes in schools’ safety and climate over time compared to other urban schools to examine the effectiveness of the comprehensive school safety initiative.

Developing a Longitudinal Dataset to Study the Relations Between Community and School Context and Student Outcomes, Maury Nation and Caroline Christopher

The Nashville Longitudinal Study of Youth Safety and Wellbeing is a CSSI-funded partnership between Vanderbilt University and Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) to develop a multi-level longitudinal dataset to study youth safety and wellbeing. The resulting dataset includes longitudinal, geocoded data for more than 15,000 students in 144 schools. Also, the dataset includes measures of school characteristics and neighborhood context. This presentation will describe the process of developing the dataset and how we are leveraging this dataset to investigate research topics including the neighborhood, school, and student factors that influence students' social and emotional competence and behavioral outcomes.

Date Published: February 17, 2021