The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and the National Forum on Education Statistics (the Forum) are pleased to release this "Safety in Numbers" handbook. This handbook is designed to be used by school, district, and state staff to improve the effectiveness of their efforts to collect and use disciplinary incident data. It provides recommendations on what types of data to collect, why it is critical to collect such data, and how the data can be used effectively to improve school safety and answer policy questions relating to school improvement and the safety of our students.
NCES, as part of the U.S. Department of Education, maintains a Cooperative Education Statistics System with the states and outlying areas to improve the quality, comparability, and uniformity of elementary and secondary school data. The Forum members represent states, school districts, and other institutions that are major providers and users of education data. The Forum provides an arena for the discussion of educational issues and the development of new approaches for data collection and utilization.
In 1996, the Forum published "Recommendations of the Crime, Violence, and Discipline Reporting Task Force," a report that outlined a set of definitions and protocols for the collection of crime, violence, and discipline data. As part of an ongoing effort to promote data-driven educational policy decisionmaking, NCES and the Forum reconvened the Crime, Violence, and Discipline Task Force in 2000 to update the initial report. This work was a collaborative effort of the state and school district administrators, education policy researchers, and Federal Department of Education program and research staff who comprise the Crime, Violence, and Discipline Task Force. These individuals have a range of expertise, including data collection and analysis, school administration, classroom instruction, and policy development and implementation.
We hope that this handbook will contribute to the development of valid and comparable data on school crime, violence, and discipline to promote effective policy decisions and safe learning environments.