Streamwood High intervention program a model for U-46
Streamwood High School's in-school intervention program is being used as a model of success for alternative discipline for students facing suspension or expulsion, Elgin Area School District U-46 officials say.
It has helped the school lower its out-of-school suspensions from 140 in 2013-14 to 71 in 2014-15. So far this year, the school has only 16 out-of-school suspensions -- the lowest among U-46 schools.
Officials have stepped away from the traditional model of giving students detention for bad behavior, said Nathan McCoy, the assistant principal who oversees discipline.
"The kids had no respect for detention and wouldn't serve it," McCoy said. That led to suspensions, he said.
"We were giving out thousands of out-of-school suspensions a year" across the school district, he added. Today, the school's and the district's out-of-school suspensions are far fewer and last one to two days, on average.
Traditional in-school suspension means students are excluded from classes and sit in a room with little to do, along with other students who are having a bad day or are in crisis, McCoy said.
"Research says those environments create cesspools of behavioral activity, and kids go there and get into more trouble," McCoy said. "The behavioral expectation is that kids are quiet and don't bother anyone."
With Streamwood High's in-school intervention program, a teacher guides students assigned to a special classroom.
Students typically get sent there 24 to 48 hours after an offense, which allows their teachers to prepare classroom assignments and homework for them to work on as part of their school day. Social interaction is limited. Phones and electronic devices are prohibited.
Students get graded for behavior and classwork, McCoy said.
"It is a place where kids are expected to work, and those categories are measured every single period," McCoy said. "It is one great program amid several, but more important than in-school intervention is the philosophy that it's built on. That philosophy isn't about programs, it's about people."