Safe, Supportive Conditions for Learning: Making Connections for Student Success-Key Concepts

Article excerpt

prevention and early intervention, actively engage families, and incorporate strengthbased approaches that link social-emotional wellness, and academics. Evidence-based examples include .... ... * * . emotional learning, positive , r , interventions and supports, and to intervention.

start with safe learning environments that promote student well-being, prevent negative behaviors, and engage in the classroom and broader school community. We can enable teachers' ability to teach and students ability to earn we ensure that all students: (a) school knowing they are safe, welcomed, and respected; (b) have a trusting relationship with at least one adult in the building; (c) understand clear academic and behavioral expectations; and (d) see their role as positive members of the school community. Positive conditions for learning are shaped by the attitudes, expectations, policies, and practices of school personnel and must be intentionally established, measured, and maintained.

School psychologists have specialized training in learning, instruction, school and family systems, behavior, and mental health. They are a vital part of the school leadership team working to bring out the best in students and schools.

Interventions that strengthen students' social, emotional, and decisionmaking skills also positively impact their academic achievement, both in terms of higher standardized test scores and better grades. (Fleming et al., 2005)

CONNECTION 2: School-wide programs that prevent negative behaviors increase school safety and are central to positive conditions for learning.

Negative, antisocial, or violent behaviors such as bullying, gang involvement, substance abuse, and truancy undermine physical and psychological safety for students and staff and can impede achievement. Zero tolerance policies have proven ineffective at improving school climate and actually can increase bad behaviors and rates (APA, 2008). In contrast, evidence-based strategies to school safety employ positive discipline, target the negative behavior and its underlying causes, and teach and reinforce positive skills and decision-making. Integrating school safety measures with efforts to improve school climate and academic achievement results in more sustainable and comprehensive school improvement.

School psychologists are trained to address the many factors that shape student behavior at the individual, classroom, and school-wide levels, and to implement evidencedbased interventions that improve student behavior, the school environment, and academic achievement.

Nationwide, 5.5% of high school students reported in 2007 that they missed at least one day of school in the previous month because they felt unsafe at school or on their way to or from schoo|f up from 5 4% in 2003 (YRBSS, 2007; Eaton et al., 2008)

CONNECTION 3: Comprehensive coordinated learning supports directly contribute to student social-emotional wellness, positive behavior, and academic achievement.

Learning supports should be comprehensive, integrated, and directly connected to the school context. This means they are relevant to the mission of teaching and learning, connect to the processes and dynamics of schooling, and strive toward improved school success. Well-coordinated supports are provided in an integrated, multitiered system of supports that connects school-wide prevention and skills building with increasingly intensive interventions for higher risk groups and individual students. Effective supports include school-based mental health services, emphasize CONNECTION 1: Safe, supportive conditions for learning are essential to school success.

Students who do not feel safe and supported at school cannot learn to their fullest potential. Creating positive conditions for learning is essential to student achievement and must be integral to education reform efforts and legislation. …