Behavior system proving to work as suspensions have declined

Trends can be worth celebrating. A case in point is the decline of suspensions at Columbus East and Columbus North high schools.

East has experienced the most dramatic drops. Total suspensions, which climbed from 662 in the 2013-14 school year to 783 in 2014-15, fell to 462 in 2015-16. That’s a 41 percent year-over-year decline.

Also, East’s number of out-of-school suspensions, and expulsions or suspensions involving drugs, weapons or alcohol continued two-year declines. And its in-school suspensions fell by 218 from 2014-15 to 2015-16.

North had steady but less dramatic declines, particularly two-year drops for total suspensions and in-school suspensions.

Regardless of the percentages, both schools showed progress, in curbing improper behavior.

Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. officials have pointed to the district’s Positive Behavior Instructional Supports (PBIS) approach as a factor.

PBIS is intended to prevent and respond to discipline problems by teaching and promoting appropriate behaviors for all students, and create and maintain safe learning environments, according to the student handbook.

This includes various methods of reinforcing the expected behaviors at school, such as being respectful, responsible and courteous.

The downward trend of suspensions suggests that the PBIS system is a valuable tool for the school district.

It’s also possible that the presence of resource officers at both high schools — a partnership with Columbus Police Department — is having a positive impact on the trends, too. The officers work to build rapport with students so they can more effectively address issues, and conduct presentations on serious topics such as drugs and domestic violence.

More data in coming years will give a better indication to what extent PBIS is having on student behavior and suspensions, but early returns are encouraging.

The positive trend at both schools is something that educators, parents and students can celebrate.

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