Targeted Systems Approach
The DRP team engages with school districts/CMOs over the course of 12-18 months. Our work has two components:
- The District Implementation Team: In every engagement, we work with a high-level and cross-functional implementation team (which must include the superintendent and/or the CMO CEO) that we launch in partnership with the district and/or charter management organization.
- School-Based Change: We also work with school leaders and their teams. The scope of the work with individual schools varies depending on the budget and goals of the client.
Superintendents, leaders of charter school networks, state commissioners, and school board members are seeking to solve a particular problem related to equity. This work happens in four phases through our Core Model as follows:
- We believe context matters. In Phase One of our work, we spend time interviewing key stakeholders to build our understanding of the local context — challenges and opportunities, current thinking on the work, as well as the goals and fears, and best ways to communicate with the community. During this phase, we help build teams at the central and school levels and introduce our frameworks (EQUITY and P) and assessment tools. At the end of the first phase, the major players in the central office are clear about the EQUITY Framework, the approach of DRP and how the entire engagement will work.
- We provide capacity and coaching, teaching leadership how to fish. During Phase Two, we provide training (virtual or in-person), norming the central and school level teams on the EQUITY Framework and laying the groundwork for developing and implementing a strategic plan.
- In Phase Three, our coaches work with central and school level teams — through virtual or in-person trainings and school visits — to develop and review the emerging action plans. Our team knows how to get things done and knows when to go off script. By the end of this phase, our coaches will have identified any obstacles and provided the support to create a comprehensive plan.
- During our final phase, Phase Four, we reflect on progress to date, solidify the community of practice, and ensure that central and school teams are shifting from planning to implementation.
At the end of the engagement, with a deeper understanding of the EQUITY Framework, clients will have a finalized, two-year implementation plan for central teams and school teams. Teams are clear about how to charter and implement strategies developed with their two-year action plan.
The Collective Action Model
The collective action approach takes one of two forms:
- DRP convenes district leadership teams from several districts or regions — traditional and charter together — to actively shift away from harsh, biased, and exclusionary discipline and other school policies and practices that disproportionately and negatively impact Black, brown, LGBTQQ students and students with disabilities.
- DRP convenes diverse leaders from adjacent systems — police, advocates, higher education, child welfare, juvenile justice, and/or school systems — to generate a comprehensive plan to address inequities in how students and families are punished.
The initiating client is typically a superintendent, commissioner, mayor or county executive, advocacy organization, and/or funder with a regional focus. The collective action approach is tailored to each engagement based on the initiator, but some basic elements are typically included.
- Convene and on-board the right people to the collective: We work with the initiator to recruit and on-board members who are committed to (a) real self-reflection, change, and learning, and who will actively participate to support collective growth; (b) represent diverse stakeholders who need to be at the table in order for system change to occur; and (c) empowered and high-level decision-makers who can translate insight into action.
- Case for action: Explore the specific, tangible, and research-based consequences of harsh, biased, and exclusionary disciplinary practices in fueling the school-to-prison pipeline; create a sense of urgency for collective and individual action.
- Vision for success: Understand, at a high level, the six building blocks — and accompanying people, policy, practices, and power-dynamics shifts that need to occur — to make progress on replacing antiquated approaches with more equitable ones.
- Reflection: Learn about local and national promising practices and research; reflect on local practices that are promising; surface common struggles.
- Planning: Begin to envision how to make the deep adaptive (mindset and beliefs) and technical (practices and policies) changes necessary to replace inequitable approaches to student behavior with more proactive, ABAR (anti-biased and anti-racist), and developmentally appropriate ones.
Our approach is anchored by two frameworks:
EQUITY Framework and Self-Assessment Tools
We have integrated the research on anti-biased, anti-racist organizations, behavior modification, achievement motivation, risk and resilience, school culture and climate, and social and emotional learning — along with promising practices from restorative justice, PBIS, MTSS, RTI, and culturally responsive teaching — into one set of actionable, non-jargony tools. The EQUITY Framework has 6 competencies, and each competency has 3 to 5 indicators of success. We’ve broken this down into a set of “look fors” in the form of a school-based self-assessment and a system-based self-assessment. In essence, our self-assessment helps teams understand where they are against the fourth leg of the stool and what it will take to make progress.
The P-Framework is a comprehensive approach to conducting an organizational assessment. Once teams are normed on the EQUITY Frameworks, our team guides leaders and their teams through an inventory of their principles, practices, people and performance management, policies, partners, and power dynamics — and how they need to change in the short, medium, and long term.
It’s time to rethink school discipline
We’re building a coalition of education leaders committed to ending the school-to-prison pipeline.
The Discipline Revolution Project, an initiative of ThirdWay Solutions, is a coalition of education leaders and advocates working to radically rethink school culture and decriminalize the way we think about student behavior. We help leaders build physically, psychologically, and emotionally safe cultures, including handling conflict and difference with an anti-biased, anti-racist lens in order to meet audacious goals.
Over the past decade, we have come to know that great schools that get results for all kids — including but not limited to students who have been marginalized — do four things well:
- School Culture & Student Supports
While we know that it’s critical to deliver excellence on all four legs of this stool, we have found that the fourth leg of the stool remains unexamined, lagging in innovation and rigorous dialogue. Systems struggle the most at the fourth leg. DRP helps states, districts, CMOs, and schools understand, prioritize, and improve this fourth leg.
DRP is supporting systems leaders, schools, and their partners to become expert at:
- Conditions: Anti-biased/anti-racist cultures of high support, high expectations to keep kids learning.
- Capacity: Adult skill and will in actively tearing down policies and practices that cement inequities — including but not limited to how schools handle incidents, struggle, and difference.
- Care: Student and family supports, including decriminalizing approaches to behavior.
The Case for Action
If we are truly committed to ensuring every single student has every life option they deserve, we cannot turn away from the facts: