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The ERIC/OSEP Special Project

OSEP, Ideas that Work

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Development funded by the U.S. Office of Special Education Programs


Unified School-wide Discipline Program Reduces Disruptive Behavior, Increases Time on Task

Reducing disruptive behavior in classrooms remains a major challenge for schools. The Unified Discipline (UD) program, a preventive, school-wide approach for improving student behavior has been shown to be effective in reducing behavioral problems and the need for specific, individualized behavior interventions in one elementary school. . This program was developed by OSEP-funded project at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte.

Most behavior improvement programs focus on reducing problem behaviors individually, whereas UD establishes a school-wide discipline model implemented through four interrelated objectives:

  • Unified attitudes of staff demonstrated in caring but firm responses
  • Unified expectations that set clear, specific, and reasonable rules that "apply across all locations and activities within the school, at all times and with all personnel"
  • Unified correction procedures that clearly and consistently demonstrate that consequences are procedural, not personal, and that offer encouragement to prevent future violations
  • Unified team roles that allow the administration and faculty support to each other's authority, which alleviates the need for second guessing and allows the principal to enforce the rules flexibly and individually.

Implemented in an elementary school with low academic achievement rates and a high percentage of special education students classified with emotional disturbance, the UD program helped the school develop unified attitudes, expectations, consequences and team roles school-wide to improve discipline at all grade levels.

Observational data gathered by the project measured the amount of positive on-task behavior and negative off-task behavior in classrooms involved in the project and in comparison classrooms that did not use the project procedures. Results indicated significantly higher rates of time on task and lower rates of time off task throughout the school year in the project classrooms.

The UD program has implications for practice as well as for policy and personnel preparation, since it demonstrates the connection between school-wide behavioral management practices and improvements in learning in classrooms.

The research in the study was supported in part by the Office of Special Education Programs at the US Department of Education, Grant #H237F940012, Bob Algozzine, Project Director. For more information about the Unified Discipline Program, see Marr, Mary, Audette, Bob, White, Richard, Ellis, Edward, and Algozzine, Bob, "School-Wide Discipline and Classroom Ecology," Special Services in the Schools 18, nos. 1/2 (2002): 55-73.

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Last updated: January 15, 2003

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