Dr. Armour: Restorative discipline can help reduce dropout rates of students and teachers

Dr. Marilyn Armour

Dr. Marilyn Armour

Dr. Marilyn Armour, University Distinguished Professor at the School of Social Work, authored an op-ed on the potential of restorative discipline to help reduce the dropout rate of students as well as teachers, published in the Huffington Post, Houston Chronicle, and Austin-American Statesman (subscription required).

Restorative discipline is a prevention-oriented approach that fosters consensus-based decisions to resolve school conflict such as bullying, truancy, and disruptive behavior.

Armour is directing a 3-year project to implement restorative discipline at a middle school in San Antonio, TX, that used to have some of the highest discipline sanction rates in its district. After the first year, the school experienced an 84 percent drop in off campus suspensions and a 44 percent drop in total suspensions (which include off-campus suspensions and all other suspensions that allow students to remain in school while they are being disciplined). Read more here.

In the op-ed, Armour argues that restorative discipline can be a valuable resource for teachers struggling to master teaching demands with fewer resources, facing challenging classroom environments, and lacking specific training to manage antisocial student behavior. Restorative discipline can also help teachers rely less on “zero tolerance” or punitive measures, which send students spiraling towards suspensions, involvement in the juvenile justice system, and diminished motivation to engage in or finish school.