Rogers High School

Trauma Informed Care Cuts Out-of-School Suspension Rates

“I always hate blaming a school because they can’t help who walks through the door,” Fred Schrumpf, Director of Community Partnerships for Spokane Public Schools, recently told the Spokesman Review in a front page article on new approaches to student discipline. Alarmed by Spokane’s high dropout rate, which floated around 30% five years ago, Schrumpf and others began looking at alternative approaches to student discipline.

Empire Health Foundation partnered with Schrumpf and Rogers High School to educate teachers in trauma-informed curriculum. Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), such as abuse or neglect are the second greatest predictor after special education status of health outcomes, behavior and academic failure. If we fail to equip teachers with the tools and education they need to understand how a student’s trauma is likely the root cause of their emotional and behavioral needs, the toxic stress presents a huge barrier to these young folk’s academic success.

Teachers at "Help for Billy” book study

Teachers at "Help for Billy” book study

Through the partnership, Rogers staff has been exposed to a series of professional development opportunities including training by Sound Discipline, Circle of Security and a 6-week “Help for Billy” book study led by Schrumpf among other interventions. As one teacher said, "I really learned strategies to work with the students in my class and how to help them regulate." In the 2015 – 2016 academic school year, Rogers saw a 42% decrease in out-of-school suspension, and the overall rate of disciplinary incidents dropped by 32%. "This work is very much needed at this time in education,” said another teacher, “I love it. Can we have more of this training?"

Projects like these and others led by Spokane Public Schools helped to nearly halve the dropout rate to 15.5% in 2015, but Spokane’s discipline rate was also the highest in the state that year with near 8% of students suspended or expelled. There is much more work to be done. Transforming our region into the best place for young people to learn starts in nurturing healthy homes as well as schools. Our subsidiaries Rising Strong and FIN are working to reduce ACEs upstream by keeping families united, and Empire Health Foundation remains committed to mitigating the effects of complex trauma in our community. 

Crosscut on research-based interventions in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems

June 29 Crosscut article by Judy Lightfoot

June 29 Crosscut article by Judy Lightfoot

Washington State is leading innovation in research-based practices in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.  As this article from Crosscut details, resources are being shifted away from dated interventions such as Scared Straight -- which produce poor or null outcomes while costing taxpayers millions -- and toward evidence-based and research-based interventions, as defined in House Bill 2536.  Drawing on partnerships with research institutes and groups across the nation, including Frontiers of Innovation, a research collaborative based at Harvard University's Center for the Developing Child, Washington is looking to use science to develop better policy and practice for child welfare and juvenile justice interventions.  The quote from the article that really resonated with us was:

In short, refusing to cultivate kids — whether it’s turning our backs on them, imposing harsh penalties or trying to ‘scare them straight’ — is not a best practice, and the benefit-cost ratio is dismal.

So right!

One of the featured organizations, Lincoln Alternative High School in Walla Walla, successfully reduced out-of-school suspensions by 85% in one year, and tripled its graduation rate since first implementing trauma-informed practices in 2012.  In fact, Lincoln Alternative was the inspiration for our partnership with Rogers High School, which achieved a 35% reduction in out-of-school suspensions in its first year!

Finally, this article perfectly illustrates why we are working with Children's Administration and our new subsidiary the Family Impact Network to bring practices like these home to eastern Washington and introduce new efficiencies in the local child welfare system.  It is only through key partnerships like this, which bring scientific knowledge into conversations with on-the-ground communities, that we will be able to reach our goal of reducing the number of children in foster care in eastern Washington by 50% in five years!

Download the full PDF of the Crosscut article below:

EHF partner Rogers High School is moving the needle on graduation rates

Image courtesy Colleen Kirsten/Spokesman Review

Image courtesy Colleen Kirsten/Spokesman Review

Our friends at the Spokesman Review released a great story on how our partner Rogers High School is working to increase graduation rates.  In addition to moving to trauma-informed practices both inside and outside the classroom, Rogers has implemented multi-prong strategies to reduce truancy and offer alternative supports to struggling students.  Rogers goes beyond the classroom by partnering with local organizations like the Boys and Girls Club of Spokane.  In combination with Ferris, North Central, Lewis and Clark, and Shadle Park High Schools, Spokane Public Schools boasts a higher graduation rate than the state average!

Read the full article from the Spokesman to learn more about these exciting results!