Restorative justice practices seem to have been making impacts on schools who formerly used “zero-tolerance” approaches to discipline. For years schools have used suspension and low tolerance approaches to curb students from participating in wrongful behavior. Since beginning a restorative justice approach to these offenses, Ed White Middle School in San Antonio, Texas has seen favorable results. After changing their discipline tactics, their school was ranked in the top 25% for improvement in state math and reading tests.
In Oakland, California schools who have incorporated restorative justice tactics have seen significant increases to key performance statistics. Chronic absentee numbers have reduced 24%, along with a 128% increase in 9th grade reading levels and a 56% decrease in high school dropout rate. This shows that more people are performing better, staying longer and graduating at a higher frequency.
Studies have shown that the age old practice of suspension does not only hurt the academic performance of those being kicked out, but of the entire student body. Schools with higher suspension rates have performed worse than those with lower rates.
What this shows is that former practices for dealing with misbehavior may not be the most effective for preventing future behavior, which in turn can affect overall performance is an alarming ripple effect. With such success being seen in educational studies, restorative justice practices seem to have been catching on across industries and state borders. Teaching offenders of the impact their actions have on the surrounding community is effective in changing future behavior and educating the public as to why certain rules are in place.
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