This was a qualitative and quantitative study of the influences on the school-to-prison pipeline (STPP) in Virginia.
The qualitative component involved interviews with the principals, administrators, school resource officers, and/or school counselors from schools that are exemplars for preventing students’ entry into the STPP, as well as schools that have very high referrals to the STPP. Interviews were coded to identify themes common among participants regarding the STPP, and to answer specific research questions. The themes regarding school discipline decisionmaking emerged as Human Connection in Schools and Communities, Discipline Process, Complex Contributors to Students’ Actions, and School Aspirations. Administrators, school resource officers, school counselors, and school social workers provided information on the role of data in addressing discipline practices in Virginia schools. It appeared that improvement in discipline was an overall theme in how to reduce the entrance of students into the STPP. The majority of participants acknowledged the need for data-driven policies developed from data-informed decisionmaking. Decisions related to programs and policies were based on data collected within the school. It seemed that participants understood the benefit of sharing data as a group to improve policies and practices.