Reducing Detentions and Suspensions through Enhanced Family Engagement
Riverside Intermediate School
Plymouth Community School Corporation
- Public, grades 5-6
- 541 students
- 71% White
- 24% Hispanic
- 5% Other
The team at Riverside Intermediate knew they needed to improve their supports for student behavior.
In the 2017-2018 school year, there were 363 after-school detentions and 113 suspensions recorded at Riverside Intermediate. The high number of detentions and suspensions reflected a schoolwide problem with student behavior. There was a high frequency of repeated and extreme behaviors being exhibited by students, which led to more office referrals and therefore more detentions and suspensions across the school.
The staff’s first attempt to address these behaviors was to make phone calls home to parents and send home “behavior sheets” weekly. Students received these behavior sheets on half-slips of paper, and were expected to bring them home, get their parent’s signature, and return them to their teachers. Ryan Welch, Riverside Intermediate’s Assistant Principal, described this process as a “hassle,” and explained that it took valuable time from teachers’ days and limited the impact the school could have on student behavior.
Papers got lost on a regular basis, requiring re-printing and extensive back-and-forth between families and teachers in order to effectively communicate about student behavior.
Communication among teachers about student behavior during the school day was not easy either. When students switched classes to go to specials or interventions, teachers had to take time to communicate with one another about student behavior so they could give parents a complete picture of their child’s day. If something happened with a student in art class, the art teacher had to then message that to the classroom teacher, who in turn had to record that information and pass it to parents.
Riverside Intermediate needed a way to consistently record student behavior and communicate it clearly to families. They hoped that by streamlining communication, families could be more involved in their child’s behavior progress, which would decrease the number of detentions and suspensions school-wide.
Riverside Intermediate implemented Kickboard in order to electronically store student behavior data in a centralized system and facilitate their positive behavior incentive systems. Kickboard’s Family Portal also provided an easy way to streamline communication between teachers and families.
The core values at Riverside Intermediate are Perseverance, Respect, Integrity, Discipline, and Empathy. Students earn positive points in Kickboard for showing these “PRIDE” values. Each of the first five months of the school year is dedicated to a specific value. The school social worker and teachers have lessons revolving around the focus value, as well as including quotes and reminders in morning announcements and posted around the school. Teachers also have conversations with students about how they can put these character traits into action and students work towards earning extra recess at the end of the month.
Every month, each homeroom at Riverside Intermediate nominates one outstanding student who has shown that month’s focus core value. Students are then recognized at quarterly “Spirit Assemblies.” Students can also earn points in Kickboard for attendance and other target behaviors. These points contribute to incentive systems for students.
Since students are rewarded in Kickboard for showing PRIDE values, parents can log into Kickboard’s Family Portal and see the points their children are earning. Parents have the ability to see this data in real-time without teachers having to call home each time a student exhibits a core value or misbehaves. This also empowers parents to have proactive conversations with their children about their behavior, without relying on the teacher to communicate this information. Because families have real-time information, they can support the school in holding their child accountable and celebrating behavior success.
Students are also able to log onto Kickboard during the day to see their behavior data and their progress toward different incentives. Having this access makes students more invested in their own behavior development.
After implementing Kickboard and creating streamlined communication between families and teachers, behavior improved across the school. The percent of positive interactions increased from 56% to 77%.
Riverside Intermediate saw a decrease in office referrals for repetitive or extreme behaviors, and attributed that change to having Kickboard. Since students were able to see their daily behavior data, and had incentives tied to Kickboard, they became more invested and were motivated to stay in good standing.
With Kickboard’s Family Portal, parents and students have immediate access to student behavior data. Teachers do not have to rely on students to bring home paper behavior slips to parents and return them to school. Parents can access behavior data directly, and see not only the specific behaviors that were recorded for the student, but also which class they happened in and which staff member recorded them. The parents then have a clear, more complete understanding of their child’s day.
By implementing Kickboard across the whole school, there was also more consistency and transparent communication from each teacher. Instead of complicated exchanges of information, each teacher records student behavior data in the moment and can see what has been recorded by other teachers for shared students. This cuts down on time spent communicating among teachers, and results in a more accurate account of students’ behavior at each point in the day.
The Kickboard platform provides students, parents, and teachers a place for open and easy communication about student behaviors. Kyle Coffman, Riverside Intermediate’s principal, explained that, “Using Kickboard has helped connect families with what is going on in the classroom with real-time access to behavior information.”
In the first semester of the 2018-2019 school year, after Kickboard has been consistently used, there was not a single supervised suspension, compared to 12 the previous school year. First semester detentions decreased by almost 30% from the previous year, dropping from 249 to 178. In-school suspensions were cut in half from the first semester of 17-18 to the first semester of 18-19. Ryan Welch explained that “now that parents have access, culture has improved.”
Once the 2018-19 school year was over, Ryan looked at the data for the entire school year, and again saw a decrease in all areas of consequences. Supervised suspensions were down by 81% from the 2017-18 school year, and in-school suspensions had decreased as well. The number of after-school detentions also significantly dropped, from 363 in 2017-18 to 280 in 2018-19.
Kyle Coffman, the principal at Riverside Intermediate, reiterated the impact of Kickboard’s Family Portal on this behavior data saying, “Enhancing our family communications with the help of Kickboard has been one of the major reasons for reducing detentions and suspensions school-wide.” By implementing Kickboard and using its Family Portal to streamline communication between teachers and parents, student behavior has improved at Riverside Intermediate.