Sprague,J. (2002, March), Getting Effective School Discipline Practices to Scale: B.E.S.T. Practices Staff Development. NASP Communique , 30 (6), 28-32.

Getting Effective School Discipline Practices to Scale:
B.E.S.T. Practices Staff Development

Jeffrey Sprague, Ph.D.
The Institute on Violence and Destructive Behavior
University of Oregon College of Education


Some school discipline practices promote antisocial behavior
Many school practices contribute to the development of antisocial behavior and the potential for violence. Because of the overemphasis on individual child characteristics, these important variables are often overlooked. These include, among others:

1. Ineffective instruction that results in academic failure;
2. Inconsistent and punitive school-wide, classroom and individual behavior management practices;
3. Lack of opportunity to learn and practice prosocial interpersonal and self-management skills;
4. Unclear rules and expectations regarding appropriate behavior;
5. Failure to correct rule violations and reward adherence to them;
6. Failure to individualize instruction to adapt to individual differences; and,
7. Failure to assist students from at-risk backgrounds to bond with the schooling process.
(Sprague, Walker, Golly, et al., in press).

These factors are all amenable to change in a positive, proactive manner (Mayer, 1995; Sugai & Horner, 1994; Walker et al., 1996). Unfortunately, school personnel have a long history of applying simple and unproven solutions to complex behavior problems (e.g., office discipline referrals, suspensions). They express understandable disappointment when these attempts do not work as expected (See Walker et al., 1996). This practice is sustained by a tendency to try to remove the problem student via suspension or expulsion, rather than focus on the administrative, teaching and management practices that either contribute to, or reduce them (Tobin, Sugai, & Martin, 2000).