The resources in this Spotlight focus on new education research and research-based strategies on equity and inclusion in the classroom. They include a report that examines school-based law enforcement’s effect on school safety, practical advice on addressing the disproportionate presence of marginalized students in special education programs, and best practices for culturally responsive teaching and leading.

New Research Examines the Effectiveness and Safety of School-Based Law Enforcement

Justice and Prevention Research CenterParents, teachers, and education and political leaders alike have called for stronger school security in the wake of school shooting incidents. But while school-based law enforcement (SBLE) has become increasingly popular, a new study finds that SBLE is less effective than previously believed, and it can even make students less safe.

The 2023 study School‐Based Law Enforcement Strategies to Reduce Crime, Increase Perceptions of Safety, and Improve Learning Outcomes in Primary and Secondary Schools: A Systematic Review was written by members of WestEd’s Justice and Prevention Research Center (JPRC) team and examines SBLE implementation related to crime and behavior, perceptions of safety, and learning outcomes.

The authors found that SBLE did not reduce crime and violence and was instead associated with an increase in school crime, behavior problems, and exclusionary discipline such as out-of-school suspensions.

“Schools aiming to enhance safety might benefit by shifting resources away from using school-based law enforcement,” said the study’s lead author, Professor Ben Fisher of the University of Wisconsin. “Instead, investing in evidence-based strategies, such as school climate improvement designed to prevent problematic behaviors and improve school safety, could yield more positive outcomes.”

Special Education and Marginalized Populations: Strategies to Increase Equity

Research-Based Strategies for Addressing Disproportionality in Special EducationResearch shows that students of color, multilingual learners, and students from nondominant cultures are more likely to be placed in special education, and pedagogical practices rooted in dominant culture are commonly void of culturally responsive elements.

How can education leaders dismantle culturally insensitive behavioral management systems that can lead to this imbalance?

Start with this informative brief from the Western Educational Equity Assistance Center (WEEAC), which breaks down its advice to district leaders into four key areas:

  • adoption of culturally responsive policies and practices in all education settings
  • improvement of the special education identification process
  • inclusion of culturally responsive and sustaining policies and practices in behavior management efforts
  • development of culturally responsive data literacy among all members of district staff

Culturally Responsive Teaching and Leading: Evidence-Based Best Practices for Educators

Research and Evidence-Based Best Practices for Preparing Educators for Culturally Responsive Teaching and LeadingCulturally responsive teaching can help create learning environments that validate and reflect the diversity, identities, and experiences of all students, including historically marginalized groups such as students of color. But how can teachers ensure that their own classrooms are responsive to the students in them? A recent brief that pulls together evidence-based best educator practices can help.

The brief, Research and Evidence-Based Best Practices for Preparing Educators for Culturally Responsive Teaching and Leading, contains practical advice for educators who wish to interrogate their own teaching, as well as leaders of educator preparation programs. Practices such as conducting empathy interviews, allowing students to choose topics for research projects, and assigning students to investigate the inequitable distribution of power and resources, enable “students to develop critical perspectives to interrogate inequities and injustices in their schools and communities.”

Subscribe to the E-Bulletin

Stay informed about WestEd’s research, resources, services, events, and career opportunities by subscribing to our E-Bulletin. Our April 2024, Volume 1 issue examines research and shares resources centered on research in education and research-based educational strategies. The issue features the following:

  • Study Finds School-Based Law Enforcement Ineffective and Potentially Harmful
  • Research-Based Strategies for Addressing Disproportionality in Special Education
  • Research and Evidence-Based Best Practices for Preparing Educators for Culturally Responsive Teaching and Leading
  • WestEd at the 2024 AERA and NCME Annual Meetings
  • Hear Preliminary Findings From English Learner Research Studies
  • Developing Educator Expertise for a Multilingual, Intercultural Future
  • State of the States: A Mapping Tool to Inform Research
  • Join the KATE Research Study

Follow Us on Social Media

Join us on Facebook and LinkedIn to share your knowledge of and thoughts on research-based strategies for improving equity in education.