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National PTA Board of Directors Adopts Position Statement on Positive School Discipline

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LaWanda Toney, Strategic Communications Director

Position supports addressing behavioral issues on an individualized basis in schools

ALEXANDRIA, Va., (Jan. 21, 2016) — National PTA’s board of directors adopted a new position statement on positive school discipline during its January board meeting last week. This is in response to recent events and research findings that overly punitive discipline policies are not effective in addressing or improving student behavior.

The statement supports positive school discipline policies that keep children in school and learning over exclusionary discipline policies (suspension and expulsion) that tends to exacerbate a child’s behavior problems by pushing students out of the place (school) created to support them and keep them safe. National PTA believes that exclusionary discipline practices should only be used in schools as a last resort effort to preserve the safety of students and staff.

“Research clearly shows that disciplinary strategies like zero-tolerance policies and automatic expulsions can lead to negative and even dangerous behaviors among students,” said James L. Accomando, president-elect of National PTA. “So it’s imperative that school discipline policies and practices address the cause of a student’s misbehavior, and improve positive behavior skills and overall student and school success.”

As outlined in the position statement, National PTA and its constituents are committed to promoting policies and procedures that:

  • Replace exclusionary discipline whenever possible with evidence-based, multi-tiered behavioral frameworks, such as positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS) that improve school climate and safety.
  • Regularly examine school district discipline policies and procedures, and their impact on all groups of students.
  • Provide students and their parents’ information about the school’s disciplinary policies and allow their voices to be heard throughout the disciplinary process.
  • Require school districts to provide adequate training for all teachers, principals and school personnel on prevention and school-based interventions and alternatives to exclusionary discipline, including PBIS and Response to Intervention (RTI).
  • Ensure adequate access to and retention of school counselors, school social workers and school psychologists to implement school-based interventions that promote positive school discipline.

An issue of increasing scrutiny and focus is the interaction between law enforcement officials in schools—typically referred to as School Resource Officers (SROs)—and students. National PTA believes if school officials determine there is a need for an SRO within a school building, there must be a clearly defined memorandum of understanding between the law enforcement agency and the school on the SRO’s role and responsibilities.

National PTA is committed to continuing to support effective policies and practices that ensure families, principals, teachers and other school personnel promote positive school discipline policies for all students.

“Every student deserves a safe and supportive classroom where they can learn,” said Shannon Sevier, National PTA vice president for advocacy. “Ensuring principals, teachers and other school officials have the ability and support to address behavioral issues on an individual basis will ensure that all students are getting the best education.”

About National PTA

National PTA® comprises millions of families, students, teachers, administrators and business and community leaders devoted to the educational success of children and the promotion of parent involvement in schools. PTA is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit association that prides itself on being a powerful voice for all children, a relevant resource for families and communities and a strong advocate for public education. Membership in PTA is open to anyone who wants to be involved and make a difference for the education, health and welfare of children and youth.

As movements to opt children out of assessments have increased, National PTA’s board of directors adopted a new position statement on student assessment and opt-out policies during its January board meeting. The statement calls for all students to participate in high-quality, comprehensive assessments that measure their growth and achievement so all children have the opportunity to reach their full potential.


“Assessments provide valuable information that is used to guide instruction and other educational decisions to better meet the needs of students and ensure they receive necessary resources and supports that prepare them for long-term success,” said James L. Accomando, president-elect of National PTA. “We highly value family engagement in education and respect the rights of parents to make decisions on behalf of their children, however, National PTA believes the consequences of non-participation in state assessments can have detrimental impacts on students and schools.”

As outlined in the position statement, National PTA does not support state and district policies that allow students to be opted out of required state assessments that are designed to improve teaching and learning. Non-participation can result in a loss of funding and diminished resources and interventions for students, which would have a disparate impact on minorities and students with special needs and widen the achievement gap. Opting out also stalls innovation by inhibiting effective monitoring and improvement of programs, exams and instructional strategies, and could thwart transparency by providing incomplete data for states, districts and schools.


National PTA recommends that:

·         States and school districts clearly articulate to parents the assessment and accountability system in place at their child’s school, including required assessments, their purpose, when they will occur and when results will be available.

·         Schools and families engage in meaningful, two-way communication regarding assessments, including how schools and families can work together to use the data to support student growth and learning.

·         States and school districts conduct audits of their assessment systems to reduce low-quality, misaligned and redundant exams.


National PTA supports state assessment systems that are appropriately aligned with each state’s academic standards. The association believes a sound and comprehensive assessment system should include multiple measures of student growth and achievement that reflect the knowledge and skills students need when they graduate to make certain they are ready for college and/or the workplace.

“When used appropriately, assessments provide critical data to support student learning and readiness for postsecondary education and the workforce,” added Shannon Sevier, vice president of advocacy for National PTA. “It is essential that families, educators, school leaders and policymakers work together and are stewards of effective assessment systems to ensure all children receive a high-quality education that enables them to reach their full potential.”