The National Council on Teacher Quality and The New York Times:

Teacher Training Programs NOT Preparing New Teachers in Classroom Management, and Zero Tolerance Procedures for School Discipline Do not Work

Dear Colleagues,

As we remember the children and staff who lost their lives at Sandy Hook Elementary School one year ago, and shudder at the news of yet another school shooting in Colorado. . . the issue of school safety, classroom discipline, and student self-management remains a pressing concern for all of us.

Somewhat coincidentally, a new national report and an article in the New York Times were both published this past week--reminding us that our teachers are not largely prepared in the areas of school safety and classroom management, and the zero tolerance policies practiced by many schools are not working.

Relative to the report, the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) examined materials from 122 university preparation programs in 33 states as they evaluated teacher training in classroom management.

Specifically, they look at whether these programs taught the "big five" elements of classroom management: How to set and teach (a) rules for classroom behavior, and (b) classroom routines; and how to deliver (c) praise for good behavior, (d) consequences for misbehavior, and (e) interesting lessons to maximize student engagement.

The Report concluded that:

  • Most teacher colleges spend some time on classroom-management techniques, but it's often incomplete, not based on research, or not integrated into student teaching experiences.
  • The programs analyzed averaged only eight class periods on classroom management, and only 17% of the programs addressed all five of the areas above.
  • 74% of the programs did not teach their teachers how to use praise and rewards.

Thus, if these university training programs are representative of those across the country--and we believe that they are--most new teachers are largely unprepared in the areas of discipline, classroom management, and student self-management.

The New York Times article reported that schools using zero tolerance approaches to student discipline have (a) largely not decreased their student misbehavior rates, and instead (b) have increased their student suspension and expulsion rates for minor, non-violent student offenses. These suspensions and expulsions have disproportionately involved poor students and students of color in many states across the country. And, this has led to lower academic achievement and higher dropout rates especially among the affected minority students.

The Times article goes on to profile a number of schools that have used effective policies and practices involving positive behavioral services, supports, strategies, and programs to significantly decrease the number and intensity of different student discipline and behavior problems.

It is essential that we close the school discipline, classroom management, and student self-management information and skill gap that exists within the teaching community. Please feel free to share our information with your colleagues, and education and community leaders.

And please feel free to contact me by e-mail if I can help you on-site as you work to develop the best, most effective PBIS/PBSS or school-wide discipline and classroom management system for your students, colleagues, and school(s).

Meanwhile, THANKS for all that you do. Best wishes during this holiday season ! ! !