Trauma can lead to an increased risk of school disciplinary sanctions, dropout, and criminal justice involvement for children who grow up in neighborhoods with high rates of poverty and violence. Schools in such neighborhoods may mitigate these consequences through trauma responsive educational practices, but there are no systematic interventions for developing school staff’s capacity to adapt and implement such approaches. Keels and colleagues propose to focus on trauma responsive educational practices through a whole-school intervention that is designed to provide educators with the conceptual and pedagogical knowledge to meet the socio-emotional and educational needs of children coping with traumatic stress, and to select the approach that best suits their school and classroom contexts. The intervention involves training 85% of school personnel in order to build educators’ and schools’ ability to meet the cognitive, emotional, and behavioral needs of students coping with trauma. Each school will receive coaching for one full day twice each month to help translate learnings into practical strategies. Principals of treatment schools will participate in learning communities focused on institutional policies and procedures that increase use of the trauma program, and teachers will participate in a learning community to deepen their understanding of developmental responses to trauma. The team hypothesizes that the intervention will decrease suspensions and expulsions, and improve students’ attendance, grades, standardized test scores, and connections to school and peers.
Can a school-wide intervention reduce the effects of trauma on the socio-emotional and academic outcomes of students in low-income communities with high rates of violence?