Today's Law As Amended

PDF |Add To My Favorites | print page

AB-2698 School accountability: school climate and restorative justice: assessments.(2015-2016)

As Amends the Law Today

 (a) It is the intent of the Legislature to improve pupil academic outcomes at low-achieving schools by improving school climates to provide a strong foundation for academic improvement efforts.
(b) The Legislature finds and declares all of the following relating to school climate:
(1) A school’s climate is a social justice issue, as the state loses generations of pupils from poor and underserved communities with few options but to enroll in high-need, low-achieving schools.
(2) Over 20 years of research has confirmed that a positive school climate is directly related to pupil academic achievement and that school climate is the single most dominant predictor we now have of pupil academic achievement levels.
(3) The United States Department of Education recommends school climate reform as an evidence-based strategy to prevent school violence.
(4) The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends school climate reform as a scientifically sound strategy that promotes healthy relationships, school connectedness, and pupil retention.
(5) The federal Institute of Education Sciences includes school climate as a strategy for dropout prevention.
(6) Perceptions about school climate impact teacher morale and pupil achievement. A positive school climate benefits pupils, teachers, school administrators, school personnel, and parents; teachers are motivated to teach and pupils are motivated to learn.
(7) Without school climate assessments, teachers and education leaders lack a comprehensive understanding of the tools and steps needed to address low pupil achievement levels, pupil dropout rates, pupil suspensions, and pupil chronic absenteeism.
(8) The use of school climate assessments is an effective data-driven strategy that engages pupils, teachers, school administrators, school personnel, and parents working together to create safe, supportive, engaging, and successful schools.
(9) Positive school climates are stable over time absent any systematic effort to change climate components.
(10) The meaningful input and perspectives of pupils, commonly absent in school decisionmaking, are essential components of school climate assessments to improve pupil emotional and social well-being.
(11) No instances of successful turnaround schools, which are schools that transformed from high-need, low-achieving schools into high-performing schools, have been found that did not address school climate.
(12) Factors affecting a school’s climate that recognize the social, emotional, and academic aspects of K–12 pupil learning can be accurately measured and assessed.
(c) The Legislature finds and declares that creating a sustainable, positive school climate fosters youth development; higher pupil achievement; lower dropout, suspension, and absenteeism rates; decreased incidences of violence; and increased teacher retention and results in the following outcomes that directly impact K–12 pupils, teachers, school administrators, school personnel, and parents:
(1) Pupils, teachers, school administrators, school personnel, and parents are engaged and respected.
(2) Individuals feel socially, emotionally, and physically safe and relationships with and among youth are prioritized.
(3) Pupils, teachers, school administrators, school personnel, and parents work together to develop and contribute to a shared school vision.
(4) Teachers and school administrators, incorporating the views of pupils, model and nurture attitudes that emphasize the benefits and satisfaction gained from learning based on high academic expectations.
(5) Each individual contributes to the operations and climate of the school.
(6) Disciplinary practices are assessed and an effort is made to utilize practices that promote positive interventions.
(7) Collaboration and cooperation replace a school climate of confrontation and mistrust, and inclusiveness becomes the norm.
(d) The Legislature finds and declares all of the following regarding alternative discipline programs, such as restorative justice and positive behavioral interventions and supports:
(1) California K–12 schools issued more than half a million suspensions in the 2013–14 school year, with pupils of color disproportionately subjected to out-of-school suspensions.
(2) African American pupils are three times more likely to be suspended than all other pupils, and studies show that pupils of color are disciplined more harshly than other pupils, resulting in serious, negative educational consequences.
(3) A recent University of California, Los Angeles study concluded that African American pupils who are expelled from school have a 90-percent likelihood of being placed in a state correctional institution.
(4) Exclusionary school removals cause a number of correlated negative educational, economic, and social problems, including school avoidance, an increased likelihood of dropping out, and engagement with the juvenile justice system. This civil rights crisis has come to be known as the school-to-prison pipeline.
(5) The American Academy of Pediatrics has found that suspension can increase stress and may predispose pupils to antisocial behavior and suicidal ideation.
(6) Psychologists have found that disciplinary exclusion can increase pupil shame, alienation, rejection, and the breaking of healthy adult bonds, thereby exacerbating negative mental health outcomes for young people.
(7) Alternative discipline programs, such as restorative justice and positive behavioral interventions and supports, are healing practices that focus on repairing harm and preventing its recurrence.
(8) Restorative practice, which builds upon restorative justice, is used to build a sense of school community and restore positive relationships through the use of restorative circles where pupils and teachers work together to set academic goals, develop classroom core values, and resolve conflicts.
(9) A 2011–14 study prepared for the United States Department for Education’s Office for Civil Rights on restorative justice in the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) concluded that (A) the discipline gap between white and African American pupils decreased significantly for OUSD pupils who participated in restorative justice programs, but remained unchanged for pupils who did not participate in these programs, (B) that there was a 128-percent increase in the reading levels of 9th grade pupils at OUSD schools with restorative justice programs, compared to an 11-percent increase in schools without such programs, and (C) four-year graduation rates increased by 60 percent at OUSD restorative justice schools compared to 7 percent for nonrestorative justice schools.
(e) The Legislature finds and declares that alternative discipline programs and practices foster all of the following:
(1) Positive relationships among pupils, teachers, school administrators, school personnel, and parents.
(2) A school community based on trust, respect, and inclusion.
(3) A reduction in pupil disciplinary actions, expulsions, suspensions, and chronic absenteeism and the lowering of stress and antisocial behavior.
(4) Improved mental health and pupil academic outcomes.

SEC. 2.

 Chapter 6.5 (commencing with Section 52080) is added to Part 28 of Division 4 of Title 2 of the Education Code, to read:

CHAPTER  6.5. School Climate and Student Achievement Act
 This chapter shall be known, and may be cited, as the School Climate and Student Achievement Act.
 For purposes of this chapter, the following terms have the following meanings:
(a) (1) “Low-achieving school” means a school that is identified by the Superintendent or the state board as being in the lowest performing 5 percent of all schools and that is identified for comprehensive support and improvement pursuant to the accountability system requirements of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. Sec. 6311), as amended by the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (Public Law 114-95).
(2) A low-achieving school could be a school operated by a school district, a school operated by a county office of education, or a charter school.
(b) “School climate” means the quality, culture, and character of school life, based on the patterns of pupils’, teachers’, school personnel’s, and parents’ school life perceptions and experiences, and reflects a school’s norms, goals, values, expectations for behavior, interpersonal relationships, teaching and learning practices, safety, and organizational structures. School climate is a learning environment created through the interaction of personal relationships, physical setting, and psychological conditions.
(c) “School climate assessment” means an evaluation of a school’s climate, as defined pursuant to subdivision (b), to assess existing school culture and to provide information to influence pupil academic outcome improvements, and that incorporates the use of school climate surveys, interviews, school data analysis, and direct observations.
(d) “Alternative discipline programs, such as restorative justice and positive behavioral interventions and supports,” means a set of ethical principles and practices grounded in the values of showing respect, taking responsibility, and strengthening pupil relationships that prevent, respond to, and repair harmful pupil behaviors, enabling school personnel to intervene more effectively by increasing pupil support without compromising accountability.
 (a) On or before September 1, 2017, low-achieving schools shall begin and, on or before July 1, 2018, complete a school climate assessment, consistent with the provisions of this chapter.
(b) Every assessed school shall do all of the following:
(1) Take steps to ensure that responses to school climate assessments remain anonymous and that no individual is identified. These schools shall publish the results of the assessment on their Internet Web sites, provided that personally identifiable information or information that can reasonably lead a reader to identify an individual shall not be shared.
(2) Share the outcomes resulting from a school climate assessment through meaningful engagement and collaboration with pupils, teachers, school personnel, and parents in order to develop corrective action recommendations.
(3) Share the outcomes and corrective action recommendations with the school district local control and accountability plan committees.
(c) (1) The recommendations shared pursuant to paragraph (3) of subdivision (b) shall be incorporated and implemented by the school district no later than one year after completion of the assessment.
(2) If the recommendations are not implemented within one year of the completion of the assessment, the governing board of the school district shall, within 60 days, hold a public meeting explaining its reasons for not executing corrective actions.
 (a) The department shall develop and post to an easily accessible page on the department’s Internet Web site a listing of available school climate assessment instruments and organizations.
(b) The department shall convene an advisory committee comprised of stakeholders and professionals who have participated in the development and expansion of alternative discipline programs, such as restorative justice and positive behavioral interventions and supports, to make recommendations to the department that take into account the following:
(1) Improving pupil social and emotional support and expanding trauma-informed practices and cultural competency in regions of the state with identified low-achieving schools.
(2) Collecting best practices of existing districtwide, countywide, and charterwide alternative discipline programs and ensuring these best practices are widely disseminated.
(3) Developing a network of teachers who have effectively implemented these best practices and can provide training to other schools and school districts, county offices of education, and charter schools.
(4) Developing evaluation tools to measure the effectiveness of research-based alternative discipline strategies.
(c) On or before January 1, 2023, the Legislative Analyst’s Office shall compile data of the changes in pupil academic achievement at targeted low-achieving schools, including a breakdown by pupil ethnicity, and chronic absenteeism, suspension, expulsion, and dropout rates of the targeted schools and provide a report to the department, the Governor, and the appropriate legislative budget and policy committees. The report shall also include profiles of schools that implemented a school climate assessment and strategies used to accomplish improvements in academic outcomes and a reduction in disciplinary actions.
 This chapter shall remain in effect only until July 1, 2023, and as of that date is repealed, unless a later enacted statute, that is enacted before July 1, 2023, deletes or extends that date.
SEC. 3.
 If the Commission on State Mandates determines that this act contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement to local agencies and school districts for those costs shall be made pursuant to Part 7 (commencing with Section 17500) of Division 4 of Title 2 of the Government Code.