Just Discipline Project shows progress in new report

Huguley in a dark suit and yellow tie, holding a microphone to his mouth

A project out of Pitt’s School of Social Work designed to reduce out-of-school suspensions at the Woodland Hills Intermediate School has shown that, after two years, there has been a 28 percent decrease in the number of students suspended.

The Just Discipline project, funded by the Heinz Endowments, established community-building activities at the school, professional development courses for faculty and staff, and training for adolescent student leaders who have been able to successfully diffuse behavioral problems at the school before they escalate. Just Discipline leaders Assistant Professor of Social Work James Huguley (pictured) and Associate Professor of Education Ming-Te Wang have released a report citing the progress made since the program’s 2017 inception.

Key findings include:

  • A 28 percent decrease in the number of individual students receiving suspensions

  • A 20 percent decrease in the number of individual students receiving office referrals

  • A 19 percent increase in the students’ perception of school safety

  • Academic gains in math, language arts and science

  • 91 percent of the teachers would like the program’s work to continue

“We’re still working toward where we want to be in terms of the resources and systems, but we’re certainly encouraged by this progress,” said Huguley, who hopes to expand the program in the near future to other schools in Woodland Hills.

The project was one of five awarded $2,000 prizes at the first Partnerships of Distinction Awards from the office of the Senior Vice Chancellor for Engagement Kathy Humphrey.