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Spotlight 2: Teacher Training on School Safety and Discipline
(Last Updated: March 2018)

The percentage of schools that reported providing training on classroom management for classroom teachers and aides was higher in 2015–16 (84 percent) than in 2013–14 (78 percent) and 2003–04 (72 percent).

Classroom teachers and aides have frequent interaction with students and can play an important role in helping to ensure that students are safe and healthy. Additionally, teachers and aides need to know school policies and procedures for disciplining students in order to implement these procedures appropriately. Between 2003–04 and 2009–10, as well as in 2015–16, the School Survey on Crime and Safety (SSOCS) asked principals of public schools whether their school or school district provided specific types of safety and discipline training for classroom teachers or aides. Additionally, in 2013–14, the Fast Response Survey System (FRSS) "School Safety and Discipline: 2013–14" survey, comprised of a subset of items from the full SSOCS questionnaire, collected data on safety and discipline training for classroom teachers and aides.

During the 2015–16 school year, about 93 percent of public schools reported that they provided training on safety procedures (e.g., how to handle emergencies) for classroom teachers or aides, and 84 percent of schools reported providing training on classroom management (figure S2.1 and table S2.1). Schools also reported providing training to classroom teachers and aides on schoolwide discipline policies and practices related to cyberbullying10 (67 percent), bullying other than cyberbullying11 (79 percent), violence12 (69 percent), and alcohol and/or drug use (42 percent). 


Figure S2.1. Percentage of public schools providing training for classroom teachers or aides in specific safety and discipline topics, by safety and discipline training topic: School year 2015–16

Figure S2.1. Percentage of public schools providing training for classroom teachers or aides in specific safety and discipline topics, by safety and discipline training topic: School year 2015–16

1 The questionnaire defined cyberbullying as occurring "when willful and repeated harm is inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, or other electronic devices."
2 The questionnaire defined bullying as "any unwanted aggressive behavior(s) by another youth or group of youths who are not siblings or current dating partners that involves an observed or perceived power imbalance and is repeated multiple times or is highly likely to be repeated."
3 The questionnaire defined violence as "actual, attempted, or threatened fight or assault."
4 This item on the questionnaire provided the following examples of mental health disorders: depression, mood disorders, and ADHD. The questionnaire defined mental health disorders as "collectively, all diagnosable mental health disorders or health conditions that are characterized by alterations in thinking, mood, or behavior (or some combination thereof) associated with distress and/or impaired functioning."
NOTE: Responses were provided by the principal or the person most knowledgeable about crime and safety issues at the school.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015–16 School Survey on Crime and Safety (SSOCS), 2016.


Recognizing warning signs of potential safety or discipline problems for students is one way teachers and schools can lessen the impact of these problems on students who may be struggling with them. About 76 percent of public schools reported providing training for classroom teachers or aides on recognizing physical, social, and verbal bullying behaviors, 48 percent reported providing training on recognizing early warning signs of student violent behavior, and 30 percent reported providing training on recognizing signs of students using/abusing drugs and/or alcohol in 2015–16. Additionally, intervention strategies can help inform teachers on how to appropriately intervene in various safety-related scenarios involving students. About 82 percent of schools reported providing training on positive behavioral intervention strategies, 71 percent reported providing training on crisis prevention and intervention, and 53 percent reported providing training on intervention and referral strategies for students with signs of mental health disorders.13

There were differences in the percentages of public schools that reported providing safety and discipline training for classroom teachers and aides by school characteristics during the 2015–16 school year. For example, a greater percentage of high schools than of middle and primary schools reported providing training on discipline policies and practices related to alcohol and/or drug use as well as for recognizing student abuse of alcohol and/or drugs (figure S2.2 and table S2.1). Additionally, a greater percentage of high schools than of primary schools reported providing training on discipline policies and practices related to violence, training for recognizing early warning signs of students likely to exhibit violent behavior, and training on intervention and referral strategies for students with signs of mental health disorders.


Figure S2.2. Percentage of public schools providing training for classroom teachers or aides in specific safety and discipline topics, by safety and discipline training topic and school level: School year 2015–16

Figure S2.2. Percentage of public schools providing training for classroom teachers or aides in specific safety and discipline topics, by safety and discipline training topic and school level: School year 2015–16

1 The questionnaire defined cyberbullying as occurring "when willful and repeated harm is inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, or other electronic devices."
2 The questionnaire defined bullying as "any unwanted aggressive behavior(s) by another youth or group of youths who are not siblings or current dating partners that involves an observed or perceived power imbalance and is repeated multiple times or is highly likely to be repeated."
3 The questionnaire defined violence as "actual, attempted, or threatened fight or assault."
4 This item on the questionnaire provided the following examples of mental health disorders: depression, mood disorders, and ADHD. The questionnaire defined mental health disorders as "collectively, all diagnosable mental health disorders or health conditions that are characterized by alterations in thinking, mood, or behavior (or some combination thereof) associated with distress and/or impaired functioning."
NOTE: Responses were provided by the principal or the person most knowledgeable about crime and safety issues at the school. Primary schools are defined as schools in which the lowest grade is not higher than grade 3 and the highest grade is not higher than grade 8. Middle schools are defined as schools in which the lowest grade is not lower than grade 4 and the highest grade is not higher than grade 9. High schools are defined as schools in which the lowest grade is not lower than grade 9 and the highest grade is not higher than grade 12.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015–16 School Survey on Crime and Safety (SSOCS), 2016.


During the 2015–16 school year, a greater percentage of public middle schools than of high schools and primary schools reported providing training on discipline policies and practices for cyberbullying and bullying other than cyberbullying. Similarly, a greater percentage of middle schools than of high schools and primary schools reported providing training on recognizing physical, social, and verbal bullying behaviors. A greater percentage of primary schools and middle schools than of high schools reported providing training on positive behavioral intervention strategies. There were no measurable differences between the percentages of primary, middle, and high schools providing training on classroom management, safety procedures, and crisis prevention and intervention.

A greater percentage of larger public schools (those with 500–999 students or 1,000 or more students) than smaller schools (those with 300–499 students or less than 300 students) reported providing training on classroom management (table S2.1). Similarly, a higher percentage of larger schools than of schools with less than 300 students reported providing training on safety procedures and discipline policies and practices for cyberbullying. A higher percentage of schools with 1,000 or more students than of schools with smaller enrollments reported providing training on discipline policies and practices for alcohol and/or drugs and on recognizing signs of students abusing/using alcohol and/or drugs. A higher percentage of schools with 500–999 students than of schools with 300–499 students and schools with 1,000 or more students reported providing training on positive behavioral intervention strategies and crisis prevention and intervention.


Figure S2.3. Percentage of public schools providing training for classroom teachers or aides in specific safety and discipline topics, by safety and discipline training topic and school locale: School year 2015–16

Figure S2.3. Percentage of public schools providing training for classroom teachers or aides in specific safety and discipline topics, by safety and discipline training topic and school locale: School year 2015–16

1 The questionnaire defined cyberbullying as occurring "when willful and repeated harm is inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, or other electronic devices."
2 The questionnaire defined bullying as "any unwanted aggressive behavior(s) by another youth or group of youths who are not siblings or current dating partners that involves an observed or perceived power imbalance and is repeated multiple times or is highly likely to be repeated."
3 The questionnaire defined violence as "actual, attempted, or threatened fight or assault."
4 This item on the questionnaire provided the following examples of mental health disorders: depression, mood disorders, and ADHD. The questionnaire defined mental health disorders as "collectively, all diagnosable mental health disorders or health conditions that are characterized by alterations in thinking, mood, or behavior (or some combination thereof) associated with distress and/or impaired functioning."
NOTE: Responses were provided by the principal or the person most knowledgeable about crime and safety issues at the school.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015–16 School Survey on Crime and Safety (SSOCS), 2016.


There were also differences by school locale in the percentages of public schools that reported providing safety and discipline training to classroom teachers and aides. Higher percentages of schools located in cities than in towns or rural areas reported providing training on classroom management and recognizing physical, social, and verbal bullying behaviors (figure S2.3 and table S2.1). A higher percentage of schools located in cities (60 percent) than in suburbs (52 percent), rural areas (50 percent), and towns (48 percent) reported providing training on intervention and referral strategies for students with signs of mental health disorders. The percentage of schools providing training on safety procedures and crisis prevention and intervention was higher in cities than in rural areas, and the percentage providing this training was also higher in the suburbs than in rural areas. The percentages of schools that reported providing training for discipline policies and practices related to cyberbullying and bullying other than cyberbullying were higher for cities and suburbs than for towns. The percentage of schools that reported providing training on discipline policies and practices related to violence was higher in cities than in towns, and the percentage providing training on recognizing student use/abuse of alcohol and/or drugs was higher in suburbs than towns. Finally, the percentage of schools providing training on positive behavioral interventions was higher in cities (90 percent) and suburbs (86 percent) than in towns (75 percent) and rural areas (73 percent).

The percentage of public schools that reported providing safety and discipline training during the 2015–16 school year differed, in some cases, by the percentage of students in those schools who were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. For instance, a higher percentage of schools with 76 percent or more of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch than of those with 26 to 50 percent of students eligible reported that they provided training in the following areas: recognizing early warning signs of students likely to exhibit violent behavior; recognizing physical, social, and verbal bullying behaviors; intervention and referral strategies for students displaying signs of mental health disorders; positive behavioral intervention strategies; and crisis prevention and intervention strategies (table S2.1). A higher percentage of schools with 51 to 75 percent of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch than of those with less than 25 percent or 26 to 50 percent of students eligible reported providing training on discipline policies and practices related to cyberbullying. A higher percentage of schools with 0 to 25 and 51 to 75 percent of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch than of those with 26 to 50 percent of students eligible reported providing training on discipline policies and practices related to and bullying other than cyberbullying. In addition, the percentage of schools that reported providing training on safety procedures was higher in schools with 26 to 50 percent of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch than in those with 51 to 75 percent of students eligible.


Figure S2.4. Percentage of public schools providing training for classroom teachers or aides in specific safety and discipline topics, by safety and discipline training topic: School years 2003–04, 2013–14, and 2015–16

Figure S2.4. Percentage of public schools providing training for classroom teachers or aides in specific safety and discipline topics, by safety and discipline training topic: School years 2003–04, 2013–14, and 2015–16

— Not available.
1 The questionnaire defined violence as "actual, attempted, or threatened fight or assault."
2 In survey years prior to 2015–16, bullying was not defined for respondents. The 2015–16 questionnaire defined bullying as "any unwanted aggressive behavior(s) by another youth or group of youths who are not siblings or current dating partners that involves an observed or perceived power imbalance and is repeated multiple times or is highly likely to be repeated."
NOTE: Responses were provided by the principal or the person most knowledgeable about crime and safety issues at the school.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2003–04 and 2015–16 School Survey on Crime and Safety (SSOCS), 2004 and 2016; and Fast Response Survey System (FRSS), "School Safety and Discipline: 2013–14," FRSS 106, 2014.


Five questionnaire items on topics relating to safety and discipline training—namely, classroom management, recognizing warning signs of alcohol or drug use/abuse, safety procedures, positive behavioral intervention strategies, and recognizing warning signs of violent behavior—appeared on all administrations of SSOCS from 2003–04 to the present, as well as on the 2013–14 FRSS survey; thus, responses to the items on these topics can be compared over time. The percentage of schools that reported providing training on classroom management for classroom teachers and aides was higher in 2015–16 (84 percent) than in 2013–14 (78 percent) and 2003–04 (72 percent; figure S2.4 and table S2.2). The percentage of schools that reported providing training on safety procedures was higher in 2015–16 (93 percent) than in 2003–04 (88 percent), but not measurably different in 2015–16 than in 2013–14. This same pattern emerged for the percentage of schools that reported providing training on positive behavioral intervention strategies. The percentage of schools that reported providing training on recognizing signs of students using/abusing alcohol and/or drugs was lower in 2015–16 (30 percent) than in 2013–14 (34 percent) and 2003–04 (40 percent). There was no measurable difference between the years 2003–04, 2013–14, and 2015–16 in the percentage of schools that reported providing training on recognizing early warning signs of students likely to exhibit violent behavior.

With regard to comparisons between 2013–14 and 2015–16 data, the percentage of public schools that reported providing training for discipline policies and practices related to alcohol and/or drug use was higher in 2013–14 (47 percent) than in 2015–16 (42 percent). There was no measurable difference between the 2013–14 and 2015–16 percentages of public schools that reported providing training for discipline policies and practices related to violence.


This spotlight indicator features data on a selected issue of current policy interest. For more information: Tables S2.1 and S2.2, and Diliberti, Jackson, and Kemp (2017), (https://nces.ed.gov/pubs2017/2017122.pdf).


10 The questionnaire defined cyberbullying as occurring "when willful and repeated harm is inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, or other electronic devices."
11 The questionnaire defined bullying as "any unwanted aggressive behavior(s) by another youth or group of youths who are not siblings or current dating partners that involves an observed or perceived power imbalance and is repeated multiple times or is highly likely to be repeated."
12 The questionnaire defined violence as "actual, attempted, or threatened fight or assault."
13 This item on the questionnaire provided the following examples of mental health disorders: depression, mood disorders, and ADHD. The questionnaire defined mental health disorders as "collectively, all diagnosable mental health disorders or health conditions that are characterized by alterations in thinking, mood, or behavior (or some combination thereof) associated with distress and/or impaired functioning."