Dissatisfaction with student discipline reflected in city schools surveys

Lack of consequences, respect highlighted in annual survey of staff and students

July 15, 2013|Erica L. Green | Erica L. Green

The Baltimore city school system released this month the results of its annual school climate surveys, now called "School Surveys," which poll staff, students and parents on their satisfaction with everything from academic support to school safety.

While the school district reported that the results of the survey were generally positive when it came to overall satisfaction with schools--except their physical infrastructure--the results also show that there was notable dissatisfaction with the climate in several of them. 

Of note, staff and students responded that there is a lack of discipline and consequences in schools, a reoccuring conversation in the district since it implemented a student discipline code that has sought to discourage suspensions for non-violent offenses.

We published a story earlier this year that highlighted the controversy surrounding discipline policies, in which the city's union leaders took a stance against efforts to curb suspensions that have put pressure on principals and teachers to keep numbers down at the expense of safe and productive learning environments.

In the annual survey, 40 percent of (58,604) students said that students respect each other in their schools, and 68 percent said that there were consequences if students broke the rules.

School staff responded similarly, with about 63 percent (8,679) responding that there were consequences for students, and 58 percent responding that there was a culture of respect in their schools. About 65 percent of students responded that they felt safe at their schools, and 78 percent of staff responded that they did.

The survey also goes on to document that sources of the low levels of satisfactory responses in this area, highlighting ares of improvement for the district such as fighting, bullying, students in the hallway, and distractions throughout the buildings.

Parent responses to safety and consequences were more favorable: 84 percent thought there were consequences for breaking rules, and 86 percent said students felt safe at their schools. Parents were also very satisfied with how much academic support their students were receiving, with 88 percent responding favorably.

According to the presentation of the survey results, which can be viewed by clicking here, district officials will provide feedback from the survey to schools and encourage them to use the results in conversations about how to improve.



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