Managing school behavior: a qualitative case study
The purposes of this dissertation research were to understand the methods by which building-level school administrators collect office discipline referral data, and to understand the ways they make decisions based on that data. In order to achieve this overall objective, the following research questions framed this study:
1. To what extent do administrators have access to behavior data that inform their decisions on how to improve student success in school and society?
2. To what extent do administrators use behavior data to improve student success in school and in society?
3. What do administrators perceive it would take to enhance the effectiveness of their current efforts to improve students' success in school and society?
One mid-sized suburban school district from the Midwest was selected for this case study research. Eleven school building administrators were interviewed to provide insight into the research questions. Participants in the study self-selected pseudonyms to preserve anonymity. Interviews were conducted face to face, and then transcribed.
The themes that emerged from the interviews include: (1) participants' perceptions of and experiences with collecting and analyzing student behavior data, (2) participants' perceptions of and experiences with using behavior data to improve student success in school and in society, and (3) participants' perceptions of necessary steps to take to enhance the effectiveness of their current efforts to improve students' success in school and society. The findings from this study describe practices used for collecting student attendance data, office referral data, and suspension and expulsion data. Building-level school leaders recognize that data collection and analysis of building- and school district-level conduct and/or behavior data would help them establish patterns of behavior for individual students, as well as students throughout the building. The aim for school administrators should be to use research-based strategies, practices, and programs that have proven successful when they plan interventions and programmatic changes for students.
Based on its findings, this study recommends that further investigation into data collection processes that lead to improved behavioral outcomes for students be conducted. Consistent data collection, supported by a systemic procedure to analyze that data, is paramount to increase the effectiveness of any behavior support program. As schools continue to face challenges associated with providing adequate behavioral supports for students, building capacity with teaching and administrative staff is recommended, so that a continuum of behavioral supports could be provided to meet the diverse behavioral needs of buildings, schools, and districts.