The ACPS Approach to School Culture and Conflict Resolution

Do you know how ACPS supports students who may need a little extra support in terms of their behavior and works to create a positive school climate for all students?

This week, the School Board received an update on Restorative Practices: a strategy ACPS has been implementing over the past five years to help create a positive cultural climate in our schools.

Restorative practices is based on 80% proactive strategies, such as developing a sense of community, and 20% on responsive strategies, which work to repair harm and restore relationships.

What are Restorative Practices?

Restorative Practices are based on the principles of Restorative Justice that emphasize the importance of positive relationships as central to building community and involve processes that restore relationships when harm has occurred.

How do Restorative Practices fit in with other practices used in ACPS?

In an effort to support the needs of all students, ACPS used the social-emotional and behavioral component of Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) through Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) programming. This is a framework that includes consistent school-wide practices and intervention strategies to encourage positive student behavior. PBIS also serves to create and maintain positive learning environments for students and staff. Restorative Practices are a part of this framework. Together PBIS and Restorative Practices help to build an inclusive school culture which encourages connectedness among students and staff and shared ownership of the learning environment.

What is a Multi-Tiered Restorative Approach?

Tier 1: Universal Proactive Supports for all, which includes establishing a sense of community, Community Circles, building and re-affirming relationships and reinforcing social emotional skills such as respect, listening, expression of thoughts/feelings.

Tier 2: Targeted Interventions for some students, which includes maintaining a sense of community, Responsive Circles, repairing relationships, and participation as part of the solution.

Tier 3: Intensive Interventions for a few students, which includes repairing harm, Restorative Circles, empowering change and growth for all parties involved and re-building relationships.

What is the history of Restorative Practices in ACPS?

ACPS has been planning and implementing the introduction of Restorative Practices since 2014.

In 2017, a School Climate and Culture Specialist position was created.

Current implementation is complete across grades 9 through 12 at T.C. Williams High School; Francis C. Hammond International Academy; 8th grade at George Washington Middle School, Francis C. Hammond Middle School, Patrick Henry School and Jefferson-Houston IB PreK-8 School; Chance for Change Academy; the T.C. Williams Satellite Campus and at two elementary schools.

In July 2020, a Restorative Practices Liaison will be introduced at each secondary and K-8 school as a stipend position.

How many staff has ACPS trained?

  • ACPS has 12 International Institute for Restorative Practices certified trainers
  • Approximately 700 administrators and staff members have been trained in Restorative Practices
  • The majority of all staff has been trained in Community Circles (including teachers, ISS staff, parent liaisons and security officers)
  • More than 100 staff, students, teachers and administrators have been trained in Restorative Circles
  • More than 100 students have received training in Community Circles

What is keeping us accountable?

As part of our accountability measures, we analyze data from staff and student surveys. This year, we will also be using data collected through our equity audits. Each quarter we collect and analyze Restorative Practices data to monitor how faithfully the practices are being implemented.

ACPS, Alexandria City High School, George Washington, Hammond, International Academy, Jefferson-Houston, Minnie Howard, Patrick Henry, Satellite