The resources in this Spotlight offer research on strategies that support a holistic approach to ensure all students, families, and communities can receive the help they need to thrive.

The research reports findings for

  • keeping schools safe for students and educators,
  • preparing educators for culturally responsive teaching and leading,
  • enhancing work conditions for teachers, and
  • improving juvenile justice systems.

Behavioral Threat Assessment Programs

Learning From the Experiences of Texas Schools Implementing Behavioral Threat Assessment ProgramsThe use of behavioral threat assessment (BTA) as a strategy for school safety is becoming more prevalent. However, there is limited information regarding its implementation and the necessary elements for a successful BTA program.

Learning From the Experiences of Texas Schools Implementing Behavioral Threat Assessment Programs presents key findings from a study funded by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), which examined the implementation of BTA in high schools throughout Texas. Texas is one of several states that have recently made BTA mandatory in K–12 schools. In addition, this article provides an overview of BTA models implemented in schools and a review of existing literature on the implementation and outcomes of BTA.

From the article:

Another top concern for some interview and focus group participants was their difficulty in supporting students who were not found to be imminent threats but who still needed help, such as behavioral health or substance use treatment. In those cases, participants described challenges in identifying appropriate or accessible community resources and in obtaining buy-in from parents. 

Read the article.

Culturally Responsive Teaching and Leading

Essential Characteristics of Math Curriculum Materials That Advance Culturally Responsive and Sustaining EducationCulturally responsive teaching centers the strengths and cultural ways of being for Black and Brown students. Research and Evidence-Based Best Practices for Preparing Educators for Culturally Responsive Teaching and Leading, originally prepared for the Illinois State Board of Education, aims to pull together effective frameworks, tools, and strategies that are used in educator preparation programs (EPPs) for developing culturally responsive educators. It offers potential measurement strategies for gauging whether and how culturally responsive teaching is being enacted in schools and districts.

Focused on scholarship and publicly available materials and artifacts from the last 15 years from a range of organizations, the WestEd team surfaced tools that are likely to be useful for EPPs in developing culturally responsive teachers and leaders.

From the brief:

The work of preparing teachers to engage curricular materials and resources in ways that enable culturally responsive instructional practice includes developing pre-service teachers’ capacity to identify and honor students’ existing community and family knowledge while also developing their capacity to adapt curricular materials to incorporate community and family backgrounds.  

Read the brief.

What School Qualities Make Teachers Want to Stay?

Across the United States, school districts, both large and small, are facing challenges with recruiting and retaining high-quality teachers. REL Northwest is partnering with Lower Kuskokwim School District in Alaska to identify evidence-based strategies and tools to continuously monitor and improve working conditions with the goal of increasing teacher retention.

As a first step in assisting Lower Kuskokwim, REL Northwest staff reviewed and summarized research on working conditions and teacher retention. The fact sheet they compiled, “Addressing Working Conditions to Improve Teacher Retention: An Exploration of the Research,” describes eight categories that may influence a teacher’s decision to stay or leave. District leaders may consider developing strategies to address these factors to support teacher retention.

From the fact sheet:

Teachers may be more likely to stay if they have time for teaching and planning, such as:

  • Schools protect teachers’ time to work together to share ideas and develop materials for instruction.
  • School leaders provide teachers with release times to observe other teachers to improve instructional practices. 

View the fact sheet.

Youth Voice in Juvenile Justice Research

Youth Voice in Juvenile Justice Research captures interviews about the juvenile justice system from young people aged 18 to 24 years old who have lived experience with the system and provides valuable insights on how research can help improve the system for young people. Interviewees answered questions about what they thought of the juvenile justice system, what could be changed, what could be done better to help young people be successful, and what the greatest challenges are for young people who interact with the system.

From the report:

The education and justice systems work together to criminalize children when instead they should be supporting children and their families. There is a school-to-prison pathway that disproportionately affects children who are Black, Hispanic, and Native American; children who are LGBTQ+; and children with physical, cognitive, and behavioral disabilities.

Read the report. 

Subscribe to the E-Bulletin

Stay informed about WestEd’s research, resources, services, events, and career opportunities by subscribing to our E-Bulletin. Our September 2023, Volume 2, issue explores research to support the whole child, whole person, and whole community.

The issue features resources about the following:

  • Enhancing Public Health, Safety, and Justice Systems
  • What School Qualities Make Teachers Want to Stay?
  • How to Implement Culturally Responsive and Sustaining Education at Scale
  • Preparing Educators for Culturally Responsive Teaching and Leading
  • Postsecondary Pathways for Multilingual Learners
  • Bridging Research and Practice to Improve Education Systems

View the September 2023, Volume 2 E-Bulletin. 

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