School-Wide Positive Behavior Support Implementation as it Relates to Referral Reduction among Students of Color in an In-school Suspension Program: Perceptions of Key Stakeholders

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Long, Robert
school-wide positive behavior supports; in-school suspension; students of color; response to intervention; differentiated instruction; achievement gap
thesis / dissertation description
The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine a problem of practice present in an actual school district. The study examined School-Wide Positive Behavior Support Implementation as it relates to the recidivism rates of students of color in the in-school suspension setting. Over the course of one school year, the perceptions of seven middle school teachers, three parents, and two administrators were explored in a suburban middle school in Southeast Texas. Although In-school suspension programs exist in every American public school to some degree, little research has been done in regards to the academic outcomes associated with those who are frequently placed in this campus based disciplinary alternative educational placement. In many of these "placement" many of the students assigned are not afforded access to instructional materials, supplies, or a certified teacher. Since the enactment of the federal No Child Left Behind Act (2001), the achievement gap has been discussed and studied. However, few studies have been done to understand how the current practices in in-school suspension contribute to the achievement gap specifically among students of color. This study examined key stakeholder's perceptions of School-Wide Positive Behavior Supports, and In-school suspension as a vehicle for referral reduction and removal of middle school students from their academic setting. The participants were "key-stakeholder" parents, teachers, and administrators who educate students at Caden Middle School. Findings from this problem of practice indicated that not only was the campus not imploring consistent practices and interventions related to and promoted by the SWPBS system in the in-school suspension setting, many of the staff members teachers and administrators alike did not adhere to the philosophical tenants of the SWPBS within the general classroom setting. The research presented in the record of study, identified gaps in both perceptions and understanding among key stakeholders in regards both in-school suspension and the school-wide positive behavior support systems at Caden Middle School. Results of this from this problem of practice found a severe disconnect in understanding the purpose and rationale of SWPBS among the administrators, teachers, and parents that participated in this study. Furthermore, the variance in the "self-sense making" done by each of the stakeholder groups after campus leadership failed to communicate, support, and sustain district expectations for program implementation with fidelity. Initiatives implemented through the investigation of the questions related to this problem of practice assisted in providing relevant professional development to re-solicit teacher and staff buy-in, prioritization of organization goals, and engaging teacher leadership to re-implement SWPBS to countermand system practices that were contrary to the district's original expectations.