School Safety in the U.S. | Web version

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June 2018


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School Safety in the U.S.

In the wake of several school shootings, policymakers have been weighing proposals aimed at improving school safety. Many of these promote technologies such as metal detectors and video cameras.

How effective are these devices? According to RAND researchers, the evidence is mixed.

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Featured Research

How the Every Student Succeeds Act Can Support Social and Emotional Learning

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Social and emotional competencies are proving critical to students’ success in the classroom and in life. Although the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) does not explicitly reference social and emotional learning (SEL), this law offers several funding streams that could be used to support school-based SEL interventions.

A recent RAND report discusses ESSA’s opportunities for supporting SEL and identifies 60 SEL interventions that meet ESSA evidence requirements. Most of the interventions showed positive effects on building students’ intrapersonal and interpersonal competencies, although several also demonstrated positive effects on outcomes such as academic attainment and achievement and school climate and safety.

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Corequisite Models of Developmental Education

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Many students who enter community colleges underprepared in reading, writing, and/or mathematics are required to enroll in developmental education (DE). However, evidence indicates that traditional approaches to DE were not working for many students, causing states and higher education institutions to rethink the way they address college readiness.

Recent RAND work focuses on the experiences of Texas community colleges, which are implementing a range of corequisite models. In these programs, students move directly into a college-level course, with DE support provided concurrently.

Researchers identified challenges to implementation--such as lack of stakeholder buy-in and uncertainty around state policy--and offer recommendations to overcome these challenges. The report concludes by reflecting on these early findings and their implications for the developmental reform movement.

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Designing Innovative High Schools

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The Carnegie Corporation of New York’s Opportunity by Design initiative was founded to develop innovative school models in high-poverty areas. RAND’s interim evaluation of the initiative provides early findings, focusing on three key school design principles:

  • Prioritize mastery: Students demonstrate deep understanding of clearly defined, rigorous competencies;
  • Personalize learning: Students’ learning experiences are tailored to individual learning needs and interests; and
  • Integrate positive youth development: Students have a voice in their learning and access to experiences and relationships that help them develop the skills and mindsets to succeed.

RAND found that schools were implementing numerous practices consistent with the design principles, and many aspects of implementation improved over time. However, schools faced difficulties as well, including challenges related to developing high-quality curriculum, hiring qualified staff, and ensuring high-quality instruction.

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