In many schools across the country, zero tolerance policies began as an attempt to keep students and teachers safe from serious student misconduct, such as violent behaviors and weapons in school. However, as these more serious forms of misconduct have declined, zero tolerance policies have expanded to include a wider range of misconduct such as vandalism, insubordination, and even dress code violations.

With 1 in 3 students suspended at some point between kindergarten and 12th grade, one result of zero tolerance policies is the loss of an estimated 18 million days of instruction annually. Studies also show that in schools with high rates of removing disruptive students from the classroom, students and teachers report feeling less safe when compared to their peers in schools with lower rates of removal.

For students struggling to overcome poverty, crime, and trauma, inequity in discipline only widens the already existing opportunity gap. Often, students of color and special education students are disproportionately impacted and as a result are more likely to have lower grades, lower standardized test scores and are less likely to graduate than their peers. Beyond school, the impact of suspensions can result in longer-term negative life outcomes, including increased victimization, criminal involvement, underemployment, and incarceration.

Leveraging the Power of Partnership

Communities In Schools partners with state education agencies, school districts, and community-based organizations to coordinate the services and resources needed to ensure that all students—particularly those with perceived behavioral problems—can thrive in and beyond the classroom.

A national organization dedicated to empowering students to stay in school and on a path to graduation, Communities In Schools serves 1.6 million K-12 students every year. In the schools where we work, 86% of students who received our most intensive supports met or made progress towards at least one of their behavioral goals. Whether it’s helping them find a safer place to sleep or opportunities that prepare them for the college and careers of their choice, we connect students with the support they need to learn at their best.

With more than 40 years of working in and alongside schools, integration is the key to success. As the name suggests, integrated student supports is most effective when it is integrated within a school’s current structure, strategies or frameworks including, multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS), positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS) and whole child initiatives. Communities In Schools now offers three new ways to help schools and school leaders leverage the power of partnership:

  • RampUp for Student Success
    Professional development to support educators and practitioners in understanding how to introduce or amplify key elements of integrated student supports in schools
  • Licensed Partnership
    Training and technical assistance that builds internal capacity for education leaders to implement integrated student supports at the school, district and state level.
  • Affiliate Partnership
    Experienced Communities In Schools site coordinators that work full-time in schools to manage community partnerships and deliver integrated student supports alongside leaders and practitioners.

In thousands of schools across the country, we know that our approach works because it’s backed by research. In a rigorous independent evaluation* of the impact of Communities In Schools on school outcomes, studies show that our model of integrated student supports is proven to improve average daily attendance rates in elementary schools and the four-year cohort on-time graduation rate in high schools.

To learn more about how you can leverage the power of partnership to improve school discipline, visit

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2020 State of the Association

Full of challenge and change, 2020 was like no other year. NSBA's State of the Association provides a snapshot of the association's advocacy and member services work as well as our ongoing transformation.