Every Child Learning: Safe and Supportive Schools

The Learning First Alliance, a partnership of 12 education organizations representing parents, teachers, principals, administrators, local and state boards of education, and colleges of education, has issued a blueprint for making and keeping America’s schools safe.

The report, titled “Every Child Learning: Safe and Supportive Schools,” outlines four key steps to making schools safe:

1. Creating and sustaining a supportive learning community. This requires an engaging and challenging curriculum; respectful and supportive relations among and between staff, students, and parents; frequent opportunities for student participation, collaboration, service, and self-direction; and an administration that promotes safety and community.

2. Developing systematic approaches to supporting positive behavior. By combining a systematic, schoolwide approach to improving safety and discipline for all students, a research-based approach to creating orderly and focused classrooms, and a continuum of additional supports for the approximately 5 percent of students who need them, schools can ensure a positive school climate for all.

3. Involving families, students, school staff, and the surrounding community. Parents and community members should play a role in every aspect of the school, including determining the school’s basic goals, rules, values, and safety measures.

4. Using standards and measures to support continuous improvement based on data. States, districts, and schools must make a long-term commitment to the goal of safe and supportive learning communities, and then develop standards and measures to monitor their progress and support continuous improvement.

The report includes detailed recommendations for putting these elements into place in states, districts, and schools around the nation. Some of these recommendations include:

• Put in place policies and programs to ensure smaller schools and classes, as well as more personal learning environments in which all students are known well by at least one adult in the school.

• Set core state and district standards for safe and supportive learning communities that reflect the key elements identified in the report, measure progress in meeting these standards, and use this information for school and district improvement efforts.

• Have in every school a schoolwide support team to ensure a comprehensive approach to creating a safe and supportive learning community, rather than add-on efforts consisting of special programs to address specific topics.

• Have in every school a student support team that works to ensure appropriate assistance and support for students who need it.

Contact: Judy Wurtzel, (202) 296-5220, ext. 12, or wurtzelj@learningfirst.org.