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Article

A school crisis unexpectedly disrupts the school, causes emotional and physical distress, and requires extraordinary decisions and resources to restore stability. During a crisis, teachers and administrators are the first decision-makers. Yet, their training may not prepare them for this responsibility. The first school crisis framework published in educational psychology appeared in 1994, following a U.S. symposium of school psychologists to discuss a recent school massacre. In addition, cross-country communications forums and seminars recognized cultural considerations while fostering the exchange of school crisis research findings and their implications for practice. These efforts have led educational psychologists worldwide to adopt a temporal framework of recommended practices to guide educators’ decisions before, during, and after crises. Pre-crisis work includes assessment, prevention, planning, and training. Pre-crisis planning calls on expertise in multidisciplinary collaboration with other emergency responders and risk assessments that require one to choose measures and interpret data. Once a school staff identifies impending risks, educational psychologists collaborate with responder agencies to communicate some of this information. Planning for a crisis includes procedures for young children, as well as those with special needs, which calls on the psychologist to consider how best to assess their needs and accommodate these groups. Practices and drills call for behavioral observation skills and an understanding of stress reactions that impede compliance with directives. Here, the educational psychologist contributes technical expertise in behavioral observations and performance assessment. The crisis response phase thrusts educators into rapid collaborations with emergency responders to prevent casualties and reduce exposure to trauma. During a crisis, psychologists work alongside others to safeguard, reassure, and empower those affected, taking into account the assistance that older students may offer. Post-crisis efforts seek to restore psychological safety through the restoration of social supports, then address acute mental health needs. Educational psychologists impart clinical expertise to restore social supports, arrange for psychological first aid, minimize continued exposure, and triage mental health needs. Academic recovery requires decisions about how and when to resume instruction. A return to schooling, ongoing supports for victims and responders, and evaluations to improve school crisis responses comprise the final goals. Some view this post-crisis mental health work as the psychologist’s primary contribution; however, the aforementioned examples reveal a greater agenda of opportunities during all school crisis phases.

Article

Allison Ann Payne and Denise C. Gottfredson

School violence, drug use, bullying, theft, and vandalism are costly and interfere with academic achievement. Beyond the cost of personal injury and property damage and loss, school crime is costly because it interferes with academic achievement and reduces the ability of schools to carry out their educational mission. Fear of victimization influences students’ attendance, such that students are more likely to avoid school activities or places, or even school itself, due to fear of attack or harm. Teachers in disorderly schools also spend a large proportion of their time coping with behavior problems rather than instructing students, resulting in lower levels of student academic engagement, academic performance, and eventually graduation rates. Student misbehavior is also one of the primary sources of teacher turnover in schools. Responses to school crime have become increasingly formal since the 1990s, with greater recourse to arrest and a turn toward juvenile courts rather than school-based discipline, furthered by zero-tolerance policies and increased hiring of uniformed officers to police the schools. The shift has been from administrative discretion to mandatory penalties and from in-school discipline to increasing use of suspension or arrest. At the same time, there has been a considerable investment in the use of surveillance cameras and metal detectors. There is no evidence to suggest that this tightening of school discipline has reduced school crime. By contrast, considerable evidence supports the effectiveness of alternative strategies designed to prevent youth crime and delinquency. Several school-based programs targeting student factors such as self-control, social competency, and attachment to school have been demonstrated in rigorous research to be effective for reducing crime and delinquency. In addition, several aspects of the way schools are organized and managed influence crime and disorder. The term “school climate” encompasses several school characteristics that influence crime and disorder. Evidence supports the importance of the discipline management of a school, including both the fairness and consistency of rules and rule enforcement as well as the clarification and communication of behavioral norms in reducing crime and disorder in schools. The social climate within the school, specifically the existence of a positive and communal climate among all members of the school community, is also important. Research demonstrates that is possible to manipulate these aspects of school climate. Rigorous research shows that efforts to increase clarity and consistency of rule enforcement and to clarify norms for behavior are effective for reducing crime and disorder. More research is needed to test a fully comprehensive intervention aimed at creating a more communal social climate, but preliminary studies suggest positive effects. Several challenges to creating more positive school climates are discussed, and possible solutions are suggested.

Article

Organizational mindfulness refers to an organization’s collective disposition toward learning and supports its ongoing quest for effective and reliable performance. Descended from Buddhist thought, mindfulness draws attention to a leader’s awareness of the moment and subsequent decision-making and is informed by in-the-moment observation and attentiveness. This Eastern perspective suggests that as leaders work to craft informed responses to the demands before them, mindfulness places them in a position to maximize learning in real-time and respond to challenges from a place of equanimity. Complemented by the Eastern perspective, Western perspectives concerning organizational mindfulness have focused on the development of practices designed to increase highly reliable leadership performance. In this conception, mindful leadership is focused on potential threats to organizational performance and leadership effort is oriented toward eliminating or minimizing negative impact. Furthermore, mindful leaders seek robust and complex interpretations of organizational threat, embracing a heightened sensitivity to the link between organizational processes and outcome. Finally, Western notions of mindful leadership suggest that resiliency, a tenacious commitment to learning from failure, and deference to expertise rather than formal authority are hallmarks of mindful practice. In this way, mindful leaders orient their work toward organizational and cultural change evident in a collective attention that orients the work of its members. To do so requires that a leader’s attention be oriented toward deeply developed explanations of activities within the organizational school setting, including opportunities for formative, substantive data use and on-the-ground real time orientation to communal learning. In turn, mindful practice sets the stage for school leaders to engage the school community in becoming active partners in communal knowledge creation with the intent of improving classroom practice, student learning, and well-being.

Article

Manya Whitaker

Urban charter schools are public schools located in major metropolitan areas with high population densities. The majority of urban charter school students identify as Black or Latinx and often live in under-resourced communities. Urban charter schools are touted as high-quality educational options in the school choice market, yet debates about the merits of charter schools versus traditional public schools yield mixed results that substantiate arguments on both sides of the political aisle. However, even high-performing urban charter schools have a bad reputation as mechanisms of school segregation and cogs in the school-to-prison pipeline. Higher than average test scores and graduation and college enrollment rates do little to mollify those who complain about severe discipline, racial segregation, unqualified teachers, teacher attrition, rigid scheduling, and a narrow curriculum. Urban charter schools’ emphasis on standardized testing and college preparation may overlook the culturally relevant educational experiences that low-income, racially diverse students need to compete with their wealthier, White peers. As such, education reformers have offered a myriad of suggestions to improve urban charter schools. Most prominently is the need to racially and economically desegregate urban charter schools to enhance the social and material resources that supplement students’ learning. This includes increasing teacher diversity, which research demonstrates minimizes the frequency of suspensions and expulsions of racial minority students. Urban charter school teachers should also be knowledgeable about the sociocultural landscape of the community in which their school exists so that they understand how students’ out of school lives affect their learning processes. Finally, curricular revisions are necessary to support students’ post-high school goals beyond college enrollment. Enacting such reforms would facilitate equitable, rather than equal, learning opportunities that may help narrow racial and economic achievement gaps in the United States.

Article

Ruth Berkowitz, Aidyn Iachini, Hadass Moore, Gordon Capp, Ron Avi Astor, Ronald Pitner, and Rami Benbenishty

Educational practitioners and researchers have increasingly recognized the importance of the context in which learning occurs, particularly the influence of school climate on students’ academic, social, and emotional outcomes. School climate is based on the subjective experiences of school life for students, staff members, school leaders, parents, and the entire school community. A school’s climate reflects its norms, goals, values, interpersonal relationships, teaching and learning practices, and organizational structures. A large body of evidence connects a positive school climate to improvements in children’s learning and healthy development in school. A positive school climate is also an essential component within comprehensive school improvement processes. Nonetheless, the divergence and disagreement in defining and measuring school climate in the literature are evident. There is a major interest in school climate improvement and school climate policy. However, the policy context that supports school climate varies considerably across the United States and internationally. Clarification regarding the dimensions of school climate and continued research on how a positive school climate contributes to both school and student outcomes remain important.

Article

Ronald Pitner, Hadass Moore, Gordon Capp, Aidyn Iachini, Ruth Berkowitz, Rami Benbenishty, and Ron Avi Astor

This article focuses on socio-ecological and whole-school approaches to coping with school violence, while highlighting best practices for selecting, developing, and monitoring interventions. We present several empirically supported programs, followed by identified characteristics of successful interventions and considerations on selecting an appropriate program for a particular school. Finally, we discuss the systematic monitoring method and approach and its utility in creating safer schools while emphasizing the contextual features and the nested environment in which schools reside. We suggest manners in which the systematic monitoring approach can be considered, advocated, and implemented by school staff members, particularly school social workers.

Article

David Dupper and Aubrey Jones

Charter schools were founded as a new kind of public school that valued integration, autonomy, and innovation. However, the overall performance of charter schools has been mixed. While positive findings related to the performance of charter schools have been reported, a number of controversial issues and practices involving charter schools have also been identified in the literature. As the number of charter schools continues to grow, the demand for school social work practice in charter schools will also increase. Since a major focus of school social work practice is serving and advocating for at-risk students and their families, this article highlights several issues that have particular relevance for school social work practice serving at-risk students and their families in charter schools and proposes interventions designed to assist at-risk students and their families. These issues are: assisting parents of at-risk students with the application process, advocating for practices to enhance the long-term academic achievement of at-risk students, and equipping at-risk students with skills to meet the behavioral demands of “no excuses” charter schools.

Article

Giuseppe Bertagna and Francesco Magni

The early 21st century is an age in which freedoms seem to expand continuously and without limits; in addition to the traditional market freedoms, there is freedom of choice related to gender, to sex, to family, to health, to life and to end of life—to name just a few domains that have embraced the ethos of individual freedom. Nonetheless, in this context of growing freedom for everybody, there is a particular freedom whose “domain” has been limited, especially in Italy: the freedom of choice related to school and education. The constraints placed upon freedom of educational choice defaults, perhaps unintentionally, to a standard orthodoxy enforced by the state and its supposedly omniscient bureaucracy. What is meant by “school choice”? It means the freedom to choose the school, the teachers, the educators, the experiences, and the educational pathways that one supposes best for one’s children, without incurring legal and economic penalties. It also means accepting that the government may regulate the system of state and non-state schools (i.e., it sets out the rules and main goals in terms of the learning and educational values with which teaching institutions should comply). Yet, to balance this, the government, except in cases of exceptional and regulated substitution according to the subsidiarity principle, may not ordinarily manage the organization and functioning of state schools and—more evidently—of non-state schools through a centralized governmental administration. These activities should be left to the individual responsibility of schools, families, companies, private investors, and the institutions of civil society. Last but not least, “school choice” means that the government bears the key responsibility of checking that schools comply with the established rules and values, and that students receive a satisfactory education, and of then making the results of those checks transparent and available for the public. This way, the government can give families very useful information that equips them to make their school choice responsibly.

Article

Developing a successful university–school partnership has been a topic for research since the early 1900s. In this case study, faculty members at one university in the southern United States believes they may have found one possible answer. This university has been working toward forming a partnership with three local schools to bring about transformative change to the schools and the community. Through this collaboration, faculty members sought to intentionally trouble the pervasive top-down approach many universities take when communicating with schools and to disrupt the savior complexes that often center on these efforts. Instead, by starting to identify the community needs, listening intently to the community desire for future changes in local schools, and working in solidarity with the community, sustainable partnerships were formed, and meaningful change has already happened in the short term. Creating multi-layered relationships rooted in a commitment to culturally relevant/responsive and sustaining pedagogy, the partnerships began with a shared vision between the university and the schools to work collaboratively, responding to the individual needs of each school and the surrounding community. The university faculty members committed to working in and with the community understand that centering the culture of the community in all partnership discussions was tantamount to their success, demonstrating that cultural relevance should not be confined to the walls of the university classroom, but rather, should be a guiding principle in all interactions between universities, local schools, and communities. The success of these partnerships, and the strong relationships built as a result, has created a possible model for future university–school partnerships.

Article

Aidyn Iachini, Ruth Berkowitz, Hadass Moore, Ronald Pitner, Ron Avi Astor, and Rami Benbenishty

School climate is critical for school improvement efforts, yet questions remain regarding how best to define and measure the construct. Research demonstrates relationships between a positive school climate and important youth development and academic learning outcomes. As school climate policies continue to develop, clarification regarding the dimensions of school climate and continued research on how school climate impacts school and student outcomes remains important.

Article

Johnny S. Kim and Calvin L. Streeter

This article presents an overview of school absenteeism, truancy, and school refusal behaviors. The various definitions of school truancy and absenteeism are described along with prevalence rates and correlates with school absenteeism. The article also discusses interventions and strategies that are empirically demonstrated as effective in helping school professionals increase school attendance. The article concludes by discussing ways to improve school attendance through multilevel interventions.

Article

With the growing diversity of professions working in schools, interdisciplinary partnership and collaboration are growing quickly the world over. Apart from traditional teaching and learning concerns, awareness of children and youth mental health issues and socio-emotional wellbeing, grew readily since the 2000s. Rising in tandem with this trend is the number of psychologists, social workers, and counselors joining educators to support children and young persons in schools. Challenges such as misconception of roles, differing perceptions as well as cross-disciplinary misunderstanding threaten to prevent concerned professionals in working collaborative to help children and young persons in need. Fortunately, this aspect of interdisciplinary partnership in schools gains the much-needed attention in research from Asia and the Middle East to Europe and the Americas. Models and frameworks suggesting best practices for interdisciplinary collaboration emerged in school psychology, counseling and social work literature. Also growing in tandem is research in methods of measurement and evaluation of such collaboration as well as studies on pre-service professional training on interdisciplinary collaborative skills in the related disciplines.

Article

Clare S. Gaskins, Melissa A. Bitalvo, and Michele R. Cohen

There is growing evidence that obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is much more common in children and adolescents than originally believed. While some youth with mild to moderate OCD may be able to navigate their school day with minimal interference, for others the disorder can cause significant impairment in the ability to concentrate on school work, complete homework, and make and maintain peer relationships. School social workers and staff can play a pivotal role in shaping learning environments that support students with OCD. This article provides an overview of clinical characteristics of OCD, its assessment and treatment, how children with the disorder may present in the school setting, and ways in which school staff can assist students with OCD.

Article

Jacqueline A. Brown, Samantha Russell, Emily Hattouni, and Ashlyn Kincaid

Providing psychoeducation to teachers, families, and other school staff is pivotal to best support students within the school setting. Psychoeducation is generally known as the information and resources provided to school staff, families, and students by mental health professionals to better educate them about the student’s emotions, behaviors, and achievement. Within the school setting, the school (or educational) psychologist often takes on this role when working with students and their families. School/educational psychologists are typically the most knowledgeable about psychological practices, theories, and foundations, and also have expertise in special education services, learning barriers, behavioral and mental health interventions, academic learning, and family–school collaboration, along with consultation and assessment practices. Consequently, these professionals are in a good position to effectively provide psychoeducation to a wide range of individuals. There are various methods of psychoeducation that can be used, such as disseminating resources and reading materials to teachers and families, meeting individually with families or teachers to provide detailed information about what the student is experiencing, and conducting psychoeducational groups with children and/or their caregivers on a variety of topics related to the child’s academic, behavior, or social-emotional well-being. When examining these methods, it is also important to understand how psychoeducation can be used for a wide range of educational practices that promote student well-being. These include using psychoeducation to increase academic achievement, for the prevention of problem behavior, to increase social-emotional well-being, promote educational practices, and provide professional development for school staff, and to inform educational policies. These psychoeducation practices have been widely used globally to better assist student functioning. Although psychoeducation is a widespread practice, there are still different views on how it should be delivered and questions that have arisen from the research.

Article

Eden Hernandez Robles, Crissy A. Johnson, and Joel Hernandez Robles

Latino immigrant families and their students come with unique cultural and linguistic needs. Working effectively with Latino immigrants in schools is a challenge for social workers. Latino immigrant families represent a variety of racial, ethnic, historical, immigrant, gender, educational, and socioeconomic backgrounds. While scholars are able to identify aspects of culture and cultural values, their influence on education and how to integrate these values into intervention and prevention programs, or direct services, is still in need of further research. This article offers a portrait of the Latino immigrant population in the United States, discusses the definitions associated with the population, provides some considerations for social workers, and discusses interventions or preventions specific to Latino immigrant students that also include families.

Article

Ron Avi Astor, Rami Benbenishty, and Joey Nuñez Estrada

Research suggests that school violence victims may experience physical harm; psychological trauma, such as anxiety, depression, loneliness, low self-esteem, poor academic outcomes, low school attendance, suicidal ideation; and, in rare cases, extreme outbursts of lethal aggression. One of the most common definitions had emphasized school bullying, defined by most researchers as an aggressive repetitive behavior emanating from a perpetrator who is stronger than the victim. Currently there is a fairly strong consensus in academia that the term “school violence” includes a wide range of intentional behaviors that aim to physically and emotionally harm students, staff, and property, on or around school grounds. These acts vary in severity and frequency, and include behaviors such as social isolation, threats, and intimidation (including through electronic communications), school fights, possession and use of weapons, property theft and vandalism, sexual harassment and assault, abuse from school staff, gang violence, and hate crimes.

Article

In the United States, policymakers have exhibited a resilient confidence in the idea that reforming urban schools is the essential key to improving the life chances of children, especially African American and Latino youth. Since the mid-1960s in particular, this resonant belief, as articulated in different forms by politicians, interest groups, local communities, and the broader public, has served as motivational impetus for small- and large-scale school change efforts. Despite such apparent unanimity regarding the importance of city schools, disputes have emerged over the proper structural and systemic alterations necessary to improve education. Often at issue has been the notion of just who should and will control change efforts. Moreover, vexing tensions have also characterized the enacted reform initiatives. For instance, urban school policies created by distant, delocalized outsiders have routinely engendered unanticipated local effects and fierce community resistance. In addition, particular urban school reforms have manifested simultaneously as means for encouraging social justice for marginalized youth and as mechanisms for generating financial returns for educational vendors. Regardless of such tensions, faith in urban school reform has persisted, thanks to exemplary city schools and programs that have helped students thrive academically. For many reformers, such success stories demonstrate that viable routes toward enabling academic achievement for more children living in urban areas do indeed exist.

Article

Erik J. Dahl and David Viola

Intelligence scholars and practitioners have analyzed the challenges terrorism presents for intelligence organizations and have debated how intelligence analysts and agencies can best respond to the challenge. The literature on intelligence and terrorism changed following the 9/11 attacks; three schools of thought emerged. Although a large body of literature has developed in recent years, a number of important areas remain in which further research is needed.

Article

School governors play an important part in the democratic governance of education in a number of countries and forming a middle tier of accountability between state and schools. They carry out their role in a voluntary capacity. School governors are drawn from a range of backgrounds, including parents, school teachers, local politicians, business people, and professional groupings. They have a variety of responsibilities, depending on the country in which they are based. Their responsibilities can include, among others: developing a strategy for the school, monitoring the school budget, setting disciplinary strategy, setting school fees. Some members of the school board are elected, while others are co-opted or serve in an ex officio function—for example, head teachers. Political, social, and economic changes—based largely on shifts to the political economy of capitalism facilitated via organizations such as The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund since the late 1970s—have resulted in changes across education systems, leading to the globalization, privatization, and deregulation of public policy as a whole, and have affected the role and competencies of school governors. This is particularly the case in England and South Africa.

Article

Roxanne M. Mitchell

Schools are organizations with a formal bureaucratic structure. Hoy and Sweetland applied the work of Gouldner, who viewed organizational structure as ranging from representative to punishment centered, and Adler and Borys, who viewed bureaucracy as ranging from enabling to coercive, to schools. They coined the term “enabling school structures” (ESS), which they defined as “a hierarchy of authority and a system of rules and regulations that help rather than hinder the teaching learning mission of the school.” Hoy and Sweetland then developed and validated a reliable instrument to measure this construct. This spawned a considerable body of research on the antecedents and consequents of ESS. A comprehensive literature review from 2000 to 2018 produced 22 articles that utilized ESS as conceptualized and operationalized by Hoy and Sweetland. This review did not include book chapters or unpublished dissertations. Findings from the research suggest that ESS fosters trust relationships and collaboration among teachers. It helps to establish a culture of academic optimism and promotes the development of professional learning communities. ESS has been shown to have both a direct and indirect effect on student achievement. ESS is correlated with a host of factors deemed important in schools, such as teacher and principal authenticity, collective teacher efficacy, teacher professionalism, and collective responsibility. It is negatively associated with dependence on superiors, dependence on rules, truth spinning, role conflict, and illegitimate politics. It appears to be higher in smaller schools, particularly schools situated in rural areas. Studies have been conducted in China, Turkey, and South and Central America, which have given credence to the notion that ESS has applicability beyond the United States where the work was originally conceptualized. ESS was not affected by socioeconomic status in schools in the United States, and therefore, it may serve as one way to ameliorate the negative effects of poverty on student success.