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DOCUMENT RESUME

ED 438 902 PS 028 312

AUTHOR Echelbarger, Sally; Holler, Marcus; Kelty, Linda C.; Rivera,Matthew E.; Schliesman, Gina M.; Trojanowski, Trina M.

TITLE Improving Student Interpersonal Relationships and AcademicAchievement through School Safety Interventions.

PUB DATE 1999-12-00NOTE 69p.; Master's Action Research Project, Saint Xavier

University & IRI/SkyLight.PUB TYPE Dissertations/Theses (040) Tests/Questionnaires (160)EDRS PRICE MF01/PC03 Plus Postage.DESCRIPTORS Academic Achievement; Action Research; Change Strategies;

Classroom Techniques; Discipline; *Discipline Policy;*Discipline Problems; Educational Environment;*Interpersonal Competence; Interpersonal Relationship;Intervention; *Middle School Students; Middle Schools;Program Effectiveness; *School Safety

IDENTIFIERS *Social Skills Training

ABSTRACTThis project evaluated the effectiveness of school safety

interventions to improve student interpersonal relationships and academicachievement. The targeted population consisted of middle school students in agrowing, middle class community located in central southeastern Iowa. Theissues of school safety were documented by means of student and teachersurveys, observations, discipline referrals, and test scores. Teachersreported a lack of student skills related to appropriate social interactions,problem solving, effective communication, and positive coping. An 18-weekaction plan was developed, which included a "Zero Tolerance" school-widepolicy, an "FYI Discipline Referral" system, and direct instruction in socialskills. The program was assessed by means of a second student survey,anecdotal records of documented discipline referrals, and a comparison withthe previous year's scores on the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills. Findingsindicated that the intervention did improve school climate, with incidents ofbullying reduced. (Nine appendices include various program materials.Contains 24 references.) (EV)

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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATIONOffice of Educational Research end Improvement

EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES INFORMATIONCENTER (ERIC)

Sg.This document has been reproduced asreceived from the person or organizationoriginating it.

Minor changes have been made toimprove reproduction quality.

Points of view or opinions stated in thisdocument do not necessarily representofficial OERI position or policy.

IMPROVING STUDENT INTERPERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS AND ACADEMICACHIEVEMENT THROUGH SCHOOL SAFETY INTERVENTIONS

Sally EchelbargerMarcus HollerLinda C. Kelty

Matthew E. RiveraGina M. SchliesmanTrina M. Trojanowski

An Action Research Project Submitted to the Graduate Faculty of the

School of Education in Partial Fulfillment of the

Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts in Teaching and Leadership

Saint Xavier University & SkyLight

Field-Based Masters Program

Chicago, Illinois

December, 1999

BEST COPY AVAILABLE

PERMISSION TO REPRODUCE ANDDISSEMINATE THIS MATERIAL HAS

BEEN GRANTED BY

s . coLLt 6_4 v,TO THE EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES

INFORMATION CENTER (ERIC)

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SIGNATURE PAGE

This project was approved by

)4 A)Pliku`A yrAisor

Advisor

an, School of Educat

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ABSTRACT

This report describes the use of school safety interventions to improve student interpersonalrelationships and academic achievement. The targeted population consisted of middle schoolstudents in a growing, middle class community, located in central southeastern Iowa. The issuesof school safety were documented through data gathered by student and teacher surveys,observations, discipline referrals and test scores.

Analysis of probable cause data revealed that teachers reported a lack of student skills related toappropriate social interactions, problem solving, effective communication and positive copingskills. Review of collected data revealed the need for curriculum focused on social skills to targeteffective interpersonal student relationships and to create a secure environment to enhanceacademic achievements.

A review of solution strategies, combined with an analysis of the problem, resulted in thecreation of a system to delineate sequential consequences to address inappropriate studentbehavior and the development of a school wide policy to improve student interpersonalrelationships and to academic achievement.

The research team concluded through the data that the program of anti-violence with the changein discipline policies and the methods of reporting and tracking behaviors improved the schoolclimate. The plan enhanced personal security and academic focus within the classroomsimproving student performance.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

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CHAPTER 1 PROBLEM STATEMENT AND CONTEXT .............................. 1

General Statement of the Problem 1

Immediate Problem Context . 1

The Surrounding Community 3

National Context of the Problem 9

CHAPTER 2 PROBLEM DOCUMENTATION 14

Problem Evidence and Causes 14

CHAPTER 3 THE SOLUTION STATEGY 19

LiteratureReview ............ ...... 19

ProjectObjectives .................. 26

Project Action Plan 26

Methods of Assessment ................................. 29

CHAPTER 4 PROJECT RESULTS 30

Historical Description of the Intervention 30

Presentation and Analysis of Results 32

Conclusions and Recommendations 37

REFERENCES CITED 38

Appendix A 41

Appendix B 42

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Appendix D.

Appendix E

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1

CHAPTER 1

PROBLEM STATEMENT AND CONTEXT

General Statement of the Problem

The students of the targeted middle school exhibited inappropriate behaviors that interfered

with academic achievement. Evidence for existence of the problem included student and teacher

surveys, observations, discipline referrals and test scores.

Immediate Problem Context

In the targeted school there was a total of 5,550 students enrolled which included one high

school, two middle schools and nine elementary schools. There were 710 students in special

education programs, 900 minority students and 1,700 students enrolled in the free and reduced

lunch program.

The targeted middle school had 649 students. The composition was made up of 15%

minorities, 29% students on the free and reduced lunch program, 12% At-Risk, 24% Special

Education, 13% Extended Learning Program (ELP) and 7% English as a Second Language

(ESL).

The targeted middle school had sixth, seventh and eighth grades. The school had two

administrators with masters of arts (MA) degrees, 64 faculty members, 39 with bachelor of arts

(BA) degrees and 25 with MA degrees. Years of teaching experience ranged from one to 36

years with the median being 20 years of experience. There were 13 support staff and 14 non-

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certified staff. Classes were scheduled on alternating days designated by the school colors. The

day was scheduled around eight periods. The school day began at 8:10 a.m. and concluded at

3:05 p.m. The first seven periods were content oriented and the last period served as a

homeroom. Students in homerooms had the opportunity to participate in band or chorus. There

were no intramural athletic programs. Students participated in extracurricular sports on a

voluntary basis.

The targeted school opened in 1962 as a junior high housing grades seven through nine. The

school had a recreation court, cafeteria/auditorium and a gym. Outside the building

were two football fields, a cinder track and a softball/baseball diamond. In 1990, a new air-

conditioned expansion was added to the building with 14 classrooms, a media center, computer

lab, faculty lounge, wrestling room, multi-purpose room, and handicapped accessible boys' and

girls' restrooms which made the building conform to federal guidelines. The school was the only

handicapped accessible middle school in the district.

Several services were provided to accommodate the diverse needs of the students. The Area

Education Agency (AEA) offered services for speech/language therapy, hearing impaired,

consultation, psychological testing and social case studies. The community provided probation

services and a rehabilitation program for drug and alcohol abuse. The school had one school

nurse, a media specialist and a Parent Teacher Organization (PTO).

The faculty was committed to serving the needs of special students as well as those in the

general classroom. Teachers were able to serve students through special programs which

included Learning Disabilities (L.D.), Behavioral Disorders (B.D.), Mental Disabilities (M.D.),

Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.), Extended Learning Program, English As A

Second Language, At-Risk and counseling services. The school also provided an eighth grade

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peer-volunteer program. All students participated in a news education program called Channel

One. Extra-curricular activities offered within the school included band, chorus, football, art

club, volleyball, basketball, track, swimming, musicals, newspaper, yearbook and show choir.

Middle school concerns included the following: bullying, snack break, lunch prog