Classroom behavior presents a complex challenge for educators and school administrators: disruptive behavior can prevent other kids from learning, but suspensions and expulsions can cause significant harm. Restorative practices are a promising, evidence-based alternative to punitive discipline.
Over the last few decades, schools nationwide have increased the use of exclusionary discipline – or suspensions – to address disruptive classroom behavior. However, research suggests that punitive systems disproportionately harm students of color and students from disadvantaged backgrounds, with the potential for devastating impacts later in life. Punitive disciplinary policies are linked with an increased likelihood of future academic difficulties, increased misconduct, and eventual involvement in the criminal justice system.
Restorative practices (RP) offer an alternative to punitive policies that decrease student disruption without harm. RP promotes the development of socio-emotional learning, encourages self-reflection and empathetic listening, and helps to create non-judgmental spaces for conflict resolution.
The Education Lab has partnered with CPS to evaluate the effects of RP on student behavior and provide a model of classroom management and a disciplinary system that works for interested school districts across the nation.
CPS schools that implemented restorative practices into their disciplinary policies experienced a 18% decrease in student arrests and reductions in violent conflict inside and outside of school, which suggests positive changes in students’ underlying behavior.
Students at schools with restorative practices are shown to have improved perceptions of school climate, as students have increasingly reported that they feel they belong at school and that school is a safe place. Students also reported improvement in student behavior in school.
In partnership with Chicago Public Schools, the Education Lab evaluated the effect of restorative practices implemented in high schools across the district.
The Education Lab provides technical assistance to support Chicago Public Schools in using data analysis to answer key questions and guide daily decisions.
NBER working paper- From Retributive to Restorative: An Alternative Approach to Justice
Becker Friedman Institute Working Paper- From Retributive to Restorative: An Alternative Approach to Justice
Read the working paper on the results of the Education Lab’s findings from a study of the implementation of restorative practices in Chicago Public Schools.
From Retributive to Restorative: An Alternative Approach to Justice
This research brief details the findings from the Education Lab’s study of the effect of restorative practices in Chicago Public Schools.
Video- From Retributive to Restorative: An Alternative Approach to Justice
This video provides an overview of the Education Lab’s evaluation of the effect of restorative practices implemented in high schools across Chicago Public Schools.
The Economic Ripple of Learning Loss and its Impact on Chicago’s Future
In this City Club of Chicago event, Education Lab Faculty Co-Director Jens Ludwig participated in a panel discussion on the importance of addressing the learning loss crisis to ensure Chicago’s students thrive.
Jens Ludwig: Pandemic learning loss is Chicago’s next big crisis
Education Lab faculty co-director Dr. Jens Ludwig provides commentary on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on students’ learning and a known solution for accelerating learning for Chicago students.
Working on Womanhood: Reducing PTSD among teen girls
Education Lab Senior Research Director Dr. Monica Bhatt joined a discussion moderated by Harvard Public Health with Youth Guidance and a Working on Womanhood (WOW) alum to share about the impact of the program on young girls’ mental health.