Restorative justice in Oakland schools. Implementation and impact: An effective strategy to reduce racially disproportionate discipline, suspensions, and improve academic outcomes.
Schools around the United States continue to use zero-tolerance disciplinary policies and practices to suspend or expel students for minor behavioral infractions, such as verbal disrespect, fighting, or truancy Compelling evidence suggests that zero tolerance disciplinary policies and practices used for decades have proven ineffective. This study examines the impact of The Whole School Restorative Justice Program (WSRJ). WSRJ utilizes a multi-tiered strategy. Tier 1 is regular classroom circles, Tier 2 is repair harm/conflict circles, and Tier 3 includes mediation, family group conferencing, and welcome/re-entry circles to initiate successful re-integration of students being released from juvenile detention centers.The key findings of this report show decreased problem behavior, improved school climate, and improved student achievement. In WSRJ schools, suspensions were cut in half (34% to 14%). Chronic absences diminished in WSRJ middle and high schools. Reading levels for ninth graders increased more in WSRJ schools than in non-WSRJ schools and four-year graduation rates increased over control schools.
Citation: Jain, S., Bassey, H., Brown, M. A., & Kalra, P. (2014). Restorative justice in Oakland schools. Implementation and impact: An effective strategy to reduce racially disproportionate discipline, suspensions, and improve academic outcomes. http://www.rjtica.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/OUSD-RJ-Report-full.pdf