WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The Wichita school district plans to focus more on improving student behavior.
According to district leaders, there’s data that shows, over the past four years, there’s been an increase in discipline problems — specifically in the elementary schools. Officials said the number of discipline incidents increased more than 53 percent, a number they’d like to see go down.
For the past seven years, Wichita schools have been following the Multi-tiered System of Supports — a district-wide plan that aims to improve student achievement and address behavior issues.
According to the assistant superintendent of elementary schools, the district now wants to revisit and improve this plan — hoping it will help with the discipline problems.
“We are just in the process of going back through that model and making sure all our schools are on the same page, that we are all implementing that to the best of our abilities,” said Michele Ingenthron.
School leaders also want to set classroom and school-wide expectations For example, having structures in place on how to move through the lunch line or where students can sit in the lunch room. Ingenthron said she believes having clear expectations will help students meet them.
Ingenthron added that she recognizes school staff need to continue building relationships and providing positive support to their students.
Something new the district will be focusing on includes having more social and emotional conversations with kids.
“Looking at kids through a different lens, other than just punitive, but really understanding the life situations our students are coming to us with, and using those, that understanding, to help teach discipline not simply have it be punitive,” she said.
One way the district plans to teach discipline is by changing their approach when a student does something wrong. Depending on the severity of the behavior, district leaders said school staff should problem-solve and talk through the behavior with the student.
“Not having your pencil or not having your planner signed is not a behavior referral,” said Ingenthron. “It’s not even something that would be punished in a punitive way, as we kind of have thought about school in the past, but a teachable moment. How can I help this child be more self-sufficient?”
The Wichita school district plans to continue monitoring data to better understand what problems students are having, in order to find ways to reverse that trend.